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"King of Holy Beasts" Review: Inheriting the 90s Simulated RPG

While various game developers are still pursuing image quality to improve visual performance, with a game capacity of up to hundreds of gigabytes, there is a “small workshop” that has been sticking to the 2D game track for more than 20 years. It is the Vanilla Society founded by Moriji Kamiya, praised by Taro Yoko, the producer of the “Nier” series, as the “treasure of the Japanese game industry”. During the 20 years since its establishment, Vanilla Society has created excellent works such as “Masamura: Legend of the Demon Sword”, “Dragon Crown”, “Odin’s Domain”, and “Grimm’s Book”. If you are not familiar with the above games, you must have heard of “Thirteen Machine Soldiers Defense Circle”.

“Thirteen Machine Soldiers Defense Circle” was released in 2019. Vanilla Society changed its usual action or role-playing gameplay and devoted itself to text adventure . It tells players a story that almost includes all ACG elements from the perspective of thirteen boys and girls in three chapters. The following year, “Thirteen Machine Soldiers Defense Circle” and Liu Cixin’s long-form work “The Three-Body Problem” were nominated for the 51st Nebula Award, and it was also the only game work nominated for the award over the years.

The game “King of Holy Beasts” that we are going to talk about this time was approved in 2014 and officially started production in 2016. When it was officially announced, it coincided with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Vanilla Society, so it naturally became the “20th anniversary commemorative work”. The gameplay of this game has become a strategy simulation RPG. Can this work, which has been approved for nearly 10 years, inherit the unique calm atmosphere and tactical nature of the simulation RPG masterpieces of the 1990s as claimed by the production team?

Prince’s Restoration

On a certain night, General Valmo attempted to rebel and raid the capital. The queen used herself as a shield to protect Prince Aaron and was eventually defeated. Later, General Valmo declared himself emperor and spread the invasion to the entire Phaeblis continent. Prince Aaron followed Joseph to hide on the island of Parebia before escaping. Ten years later, Aaron organized a rebel army , and Valmo’s soldiers also invaded the port of Parebia. After a battle, it was discovered that the former guard knight of the Queen, Hoderick, was leading the enemy forces. When Aaron approached, the Unicorn Ring emitted a dazzling light to purify Hoderick, who was in “domination”. The prepared group set off for Kornia, but Scarlett was kidnapped as soon as they arrived at the port. After escaping from the predicament, everyone decided to go to the fortress city to rescue Scarlett.

The above are the parts that can be played with DEMO. Yes, it’s the kind of royal plot that people often talk about in “King of Holy Beasts”. Players can guess the follow-up plot by looking at the beginning. The overall plot is plain without too many waves or points that can make people boil. The branches on the main line are to choose whether to save someone or not, and the characterization of character details is more attentive. If you are a player who entered the game because of “Thirteen Machine Soldiers Defense Circle” and pursue the kind of interlocking plot, this game may disappoint you. But then again, isn’t it good to tell a story calmly?

Of course, you can also choose not to save the female lead and directly enter the capital without listening to advice. Then you will face a level 40 demon army and a corrupted female lead.

As for the side quests, we delve into the stories behind each character. “The Black General” tells us the reason why Cui Weisi and his sister separated, while “The Thing That Should Be Protected” tells us the story of Knight Clive and his fiancée. Despite focusing solely on the main storyline and not touching the side quests, the process of this work lasts for about 25 hours, which can be said to be a lot of work.

After saving Scarlett at the end of the DEMO, Joseph will let you decide on the next destination. Then the map will mark the “Dragon Kingdom” in the southeast and the “Lost Forest ” in the southwest. Although it seems to be an open world setting for players to choose their next destination, the production team did not set dynamic levels. Going directly to the Lost Forest will still be beaten by the elves.

Up to 60 companions can be recruited in this work, and the characters include various races including humans , angels, elves, and orcs. In terms of character design, the style of Vanilla Society is still recognizable at a glance, and even shadows of previous works can be found in some characters. Like the elves, it reminds people of “Odin’s Domain”, and the appearance of the giant female swordsman and elf archer in the arena seems to return to “Dragon Crown”.

Black and white elf

Map exploration

The Phebris continent is divided into five regions, each with unique landforms. The territory of the Drakengard Kingdom in the southeast is mainly mountains and deserts, while Bastellias, which spans the northern part of the continent, is a country of orcs in the cold zone. The main buildings in the region are fortresses and towns. Fortresses are used to expand the team, and towns provide players with the service of buying and selling props and weapons. They provide materials to help the fortress city complete the revival and can also use “hotels” to enhance the favorability between characters.

The hotel is naturally the favorite food segment of the Vanilla Club

The “collection points” on the big map are fixed positions, and different collection points will give different materials. Collection points located by the seaside can obtain various types of fish, and collection points near the forest can not only obtain scraps but also possibly obtain wood. Each collection point will refresh after several battles. The scarce stone production team used for bridge repair provides players with a mining game, where players can go to the mining site to mine and have a certain chance of finding a treasure map.

Mining mini-game, with a certain probability of uncovering a treasure map

In addition to the revival of the town and the collection of materials, there are many elements buried in the map, such as treasures and slabs. Players can find the corresponding location to obtain treasures according to the information given in the treasure map or notes. During the process of finding treasures, players can open the task menu at any time to view the distance between themselves and the treasure and the pictures of the location of the treasure. It can be said that the production team is almost directly sent to your face. Exploring buildings such as magic circles, ruins, mysterious stone circles, and towers requires corresponding characters to join the team before exploring.

Slate puzzle to obtain treasures

During the process of exploring the area, whether encountering the main storyline, side quests, or after the Liberation War, players will enter the plot first. After the plot, players can choose to continue exploring the area and engage in combat later. After refusing to engage in combat, players can wander around the mission as long as they have a team that can defeat the enemy near the mission.

Combat training

The combat part of “King of Holy Beasts” can be divided into the player’s command of the combat route and the automatic combat after the two teams meet. The command of the battle situation will gradually become complex, from the simple confrontation of two troops to the double attack of being attacked from both sides to the control of equipment siege warfare, and the operation will continue to increase. The terrain and sudden weather changes will also affect the battle situation at all times. The useful cavalry charge on the plain is far less fast than the flying troops’ surprise attack on catapults in mountainous areas. The swamp before entering the lost forest seems to be a shortcut, but it will actually affect the marching speed. The sudden sandstorm weather requires climbing up the watchtower to check the nearby enemy situation.

The automatic combat phase can be called “electronic fighting cricket”. Each character has active and passive skills. After encountering each other, the automatic combat will determine the order of attack based on the character’s action speed. When all the active and passive points of everyone are used, the battle ends. If the winner and loser with less remaining health cannot be determined, it will be considered a failure. Some people may ask if there will be stupid situations like full-health healers in automatic combat. You can rest assured that players can adjust the order of action and release conditions in the character interface to counter heavy witches We can set priority for heavy equipment. The mercenary’s low-health harvesting skill can be set to prioritize enemies with 50% or even lower health. The priest can also use conditions to prioritize low-health healers.

Apart from the mercenaries that can be hired, there are up to 60 characters in this game. Players can recruit all characters in one playthrough, and so many characters will not give players the feeling of too much repetition of troops. In the game, not only are there differences between troops of different races, but also among troops of the same race. Taking the most commonly used cavalry as an example, in addition to knights, there are also white knights who can relieve abnormal states and black knights who output higher damage with lower health. Archers are also divided into hunters and archers. Hunters output mainly, archers cover mainly, and elf archers can heal allies remotely.

When the game progresses to the mid-game, the initial character will start to change jobs. After Yaliang changes jobs to monarch, he changes from infantry to cavalry, and his movement speed is greatly accelerated. After the swordsman changes jobs, he can hold a double sword to enhance his attack power. After the marksman changes jobs, he can equip a large shield to add defense performance on the basis of long-range output. It can be said that the Job Change System makes the job more abundant.

The two most important resources in the battle process are energy and courage. Energy can be understood as the remaining combat rounds of the team. Each battle will decrease a bit, and stationing in specific buildings or camping can restore it. It takes courage for the team to attack, release skills, and change the captain. In the early stages of the battle, courage will limit the number of your team. By constantly defeating the team’s stationed buildings, players can accumulate courage. With sufficient courage, players can flexibly use it to achieve unexpected effects such as isolating enemy troops, raiding the leader’s camp, and firing swords in the gravity field.

The uncomfortable thing about character development in this game is the experience distribution mechanism, where experience points can only be obtained by defeating a team. In many levels of the game, reinforcements that are beneficial to the battle situation will appear, which makes the author rarely use characters added in the battle situation during the game. Sometimes, when there is only one boss left, one has to consider whether to let a low-level unit improve their experience.

Review summary

The summary of “King of Holy Beasts” in two words is “top-notch”. Players can freely explore the vast world without the main storyline, making them forget about time. The game’s seemingly complex operations are actually easy to learn, and the adjustment of character strategies gives players enough room for operation. The diverse characters and units also allow players to create more combinations. Players who are still hesitant may wish to download a sincere trial version. I believe this work can make you fall in love with it at first sight, just like the art style of Vanilla Society.

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