Forgotten King ($2.99) by Jan Hrnjak is a challenging and mysterious puzzle game involving medieval kings and dungeons. If you enjoyed games like Campfire Cooking and Mr Future Ninja, then you'll appreciate what Forgotten King brings to the App Store.
About 10 years ago, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass came out. It was one of my favorite Zelda games, and one of the few that I actually managed to beat without much help from other sources (aka my boyfriend). Even though I'm usually not a stealth fan, the parts of the game where you had to sneak past the Phantoms were fun, and I enjoyed them because they were puzzles in itself. With Forgotten King, memories of Phantom Hourglass come back to me because the gameplay is similar.
App Feels Like
App Feels Like
Visually, Forgotten King is beautiful with the retro pixel art style that is fairly common in throwback games these days. Everything is rendered in 2D with bright and colorful hues. In the beginning of the game, as the story reveals itself, players will find an almost Disney-like fairy tale plot unraveling in a book, and it's lovely to read through. Animations are smooth and fluid, with no issues of lag or choppy frame rates on my iPhone 8 Plus. The game has a soothing, rather whimsical soundtrack that fits well with the fairy tale theme, and the sound effects fairly realistic. I mean, that sound of spikes coming up from the ground sounds believable to me, after all. Overall, the developer did a great job with the visual style and audio design.
In Forgotten King, players will find a chapter system for levels. However, at the moment, there is only the first chapter available, which has 18 stages (15 regular and three bonus ones). It may not sound like a lot at first, but the game itself is pretty tough, so it will take some time to get through this first set of puzzles, depending on your skill level. The developer has promised more chapters in updates, and it'll always be free. So if you manage to get through the first 18 stages of the game, there's more to look forward to.
In Forgotten King, you'll discover the tale of a King who once ruled the kingdom in a fair and just way. But there were four dark lords who reigned underneath the King's kingdom, and they eventually cast a spell that stripped the King of all power, his crown and throne, and locked him away in an eternal prison in the void.
Now this is where you, the player, comes in. Your job is to help the King through the deadly trials that await him, where he has to sneak past the patrolling guards, solve puzzles and figure out the mystery behind the Dark Lords. Only then will the King be able to have his spirit freed from their dark magic, and back to ruling his rightful kingdom.
Somewhere on each stage is a green gem. You have to grab it before you head to the exit door on the floor, because the gem unlocks it. There are also apples to collect, which you'll want to get if you want to do well. There's three stars to earn on each level, which is dependent on the number of deaths (you get three chances), apples collected, and reaching the door with the gem. The worse you do, the less stars you earn.
Controls in Forgotten King are simple, though a bit unique so it takes some time to get used to. Buttons that resemble bullseyes appear on the screen to indicate the direction that the King can move in. The King continues walking until he reaches a corner or an intersection, where you must then choose the direction you want to go in. Think of the buttons as a giant D-pad that shows up on the screen only when you can move in a certain direction, because sometimes only one, two, or three buttons appear.
Timing and precision is everything in Forgotten King. You need to figure out the right moment to make your move in order to not be stabbed to death by spikes from the floor or impaled by the guards. Your movement is very limited, so you'll have to observe first before moving. Observation is also key if you are a perfectionist and want to find every single secret in the game, as there are many hidden mysteries to uncover.
Like I mentioned before, the game may only have 18 levels right now, but these puzzles get tricky, and you may end up dying a lot (at least I am), so it will take time to complete. Granted, sometimes the puzzles get frustrating, but over time you learn what mistakes were made and end up avoiding the same error twice.
Forgotten King is a beautiful and challenging puzzle game that tests your timing, precision, and patience.
Forgotten King has a lot of good things going for it. The hand-drawn pixel art is incredibly well done and packed with detail, and the music by Fat Bard is excellent. Even though the puzzles can be a bit frustrating, I learned from my mistakes and just try again, so it clearly motivates you because they end up being so obvious. The controls are simple enough and work well for the restricted movement system of the game. I'm also looking forward to seeing the new chapters added with each update.
While I like Forgotten King overall, I think the controls are a bit weird. I think having a simple d-pad in the bottom corner could have been enough, since the current control scheme has me reaching out with my thumb or finger on my iPhone 8 Plus screen. Perhaps the developer can consider optional touch screen controls in updates.
I'm still early on in Forgotten King, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it so far. The puzzles themselves are meticulously crafted so that they're challenging, and a true test of skill. The vintage pixel art is also beautiful to look at, and the soundtrack is immersive. The controls work okay, but it would be preferable to have an option that lets one play the game with one hand on a larger device, I think. Still, this is a fun and challenging puzzle game that will test your patience.