Knight Tales: Land of Bitterness

The Land of Bitterness sounds intriguing – is it a place where lots of Michael Barrymores live, or is it a world made from 95 per cent cocoa dark chocolate?

Alas, it's neither. Instead, this game's title refers to the realm of Bohgria, which is the homeland to lead character Gust. Gust, a knight, has returned from fighting a war to find the place trashed and his family all dead. Harsh stuff.

A mysterious girl tells him this is the fault of a queen called Clara who, it emerges, was once a friend of Gust's. Unable to believe Clara capable of cruelly killing his parents, Gust sets off to find her and discover the truth.

Knight Tales is a role-playing game, but don't let that scare you off if pages of stats and turn-based battling normally bring you out in boils. Everything is very simple and streamlined, from the interface to the control system.

You move around the gameworld using either eight of the face buttons (with the central number '5' used to attack) or the thumbstick. All the fighting is done in real-time, and the numerous enemies that inhabit Bohgria are defeated action-style via choice slashes of your trusty sword.

The number of Hit Points you or your opponent lose during a battle is shown as you fight. So get an enemy down to zero and you defeat them, usually also getting a reward in the shape of magic or gold.

Combat is actually handled well. The 3D top-down viewpoint is handy for seeing everything around you, and being able to move diagonally means you can reach enemies and slash them up no matter what position they're in.

Pleasingly, the amount of options in the game is also spot on. This is an RPG-lite for anyone used to games like Final Fantasy and, wisely, there isn't an unmanageable amount of options packed in. You level-up as your combat experience grows, making Gust and his sword more powerful for the bigger, badder enemies that you encounter on your journey.

You'll need to, because while early on it might be good enough to simply stand and slash opponents, later they become tough fire- and arrow-spewing menaces that require more experience points to get past. To further aid you, items are found lying around or can be picked up from vanquished baddies. These centre around elixirs and food, which is crucial in that it helps regain lost health.

More important than all this, though, is the band of fairies you come across on your travels.

The first to join your party, Vivi, helps move obstacles like rocks that block your path, while other fairies can assist with more powerful attacks using fire, ice and darkness. You can only have one fairy selected at a time, and they're scrolled through using the '0' key. The occasional simple puzzles you come across throughout the world, usually relating to where to go next, are solved by using the right fairy in the correct place.

Visually, Knight Tales is as pretty as any mobile RPG out there. The characters and bosses are well animated and there's plenty of variety in the environments as you explore. There's a nifty theme tune jollying along the overall quest, too, and a few other tunes for new areas and boss fights.

Save points are dotted around at key points, which leads to one gripe with the game. If you need to quit there's no instant save, and sometimes backtracking to a save point you know the location of is necessary. Because enemies respawn every time you re-enter a screen, that means defeating a lot of them more than once.

Another downside is with the plot and character conversations. Although finding out what's turned Clara bad is an incentive and there are some plot twists later on, the dialogue between characters is on the bland side. It's also not a very long quest to complete – you'll be 20 per cent of the way through before you've even started trying.

These chinks in its armour aside, Knight Tales is a very neat, playable RPG. The vast world, although linear, is full of surprises, with new monsters around every corner, and there's plenty to please RPG fans in the shape of collectable items and various upgrades. There's also a lot more to it that there initially appears – just don't get bitter when it's all over within a few hours.

Knight Tales: Land of Bitterness

This first instalment of a planned trilogy, this is a treat for RPG fans. The plot's a bit predictable and it's all over too soon, but there's plenty to enjoy