Way, way back when, New World Computing released King’s Bounty; a game where you were a hero leading a band of hired mecenaries doing quests for the king. You visited towns to hire more men (there were a bunch of options on what to hire in a limited number of stacks), fought monsters and so on. This was basically the prototype for Heroes of Might and Magic, where you went from being an independent adventurer to a warlord that actually controls the towns you visit.

In 2008, the name was revived by a Russian company, with King’s Bounty: The Legend. It wasn’t developed or published by the same Russian companies responsible for HoMM V two years before, but it’s impossible not to make comparisons between two Russian revivals of old New World Computing titles.

I got this on a GoG sale recently, and have been trying it out in various stolen moments. I’ve gotten through the first map, short of some especially tough encounters, and am currently a little lost. The area the next ‘main’ quest goes into is obviously way too tough for me. I’ve now gone off to the south, and it looks like I can get a few things done there.

My first impressions of the game were a bit poor, as GoG offers three wallpapers, and two of them were heavy on the cheesecake. (I wish they’d offered the title screen image as a wallpaper.) The game itself, however, has been good. It is no surprise that like HoMM V, it is all in 3D; but where HoMM V felt crude and uninspired, this one feels polished. The models look good, and are well textured. The camera is more limited than I’d like, especially when I’m trying to see into the distance, but I’m not struggling recognize items either.

The combat is turn-based on a hex grid, with your troops moving around and attacking or using abilities, while the hero (you) can also cast a spell once a turn. So it feels much closer to traditional HoMM combat than HoMM V does. Just about all the troop types have one or more special abilities, which is a nice touch, especially since even the easiest ones are limited to being used no more than once every other turn.

There’s three classes of hero to pick from: Warrior (might), Mage (magic) and Paladin (mix), and then there’s a a set of three skill trees for extra abilities which each class can use, but obviously each class should have an easier time with one of the skills. There’s also ‘leadership’ which limits how many of each troop type you can command, which is an interesting way to keep you from just loading up on a large number of troops early on and plowing over enemies.

The questing is fairly clear, other than the earlier problem of not knowing what’s supposed to be easy, and what’s hard. I’ve seen a few quests already that branch off in different directions depending on what you say and do, which is very nice.

I think it’s better than HoMM V, though I’m starting to feel a little lost.