We covered Portal Knights earlier this year, when it initially launched on Steam and PS4, but the game is now part of a flood of indie titles seeking to find extended life through Nintendo Switch ports. Portal Knights helps flesh out the selection of building games available on the hybrid console, but with enough interesting additions and gimmicks to make it more than just a Minecraft clone.
Portal Knights sees you playing as an adventurer in a world split into 48 separate islands by a great calamity. Each island is a different biome, with unique monsters, materials, and more, and it’s up to you to craft, level up, and discover portals to traverse between the islands. I appreciated the amount of character customization the game offered, even if the character models themselves looked like bootleg Mega Bloks figures.
The game experience is also fairly customizeable. You’re given story hooks and character interactions that help guide you along and give you a reason to continue exploring if you need that kind of thing, but if you just want to kick back and build houses or fight monsters, you can go about things that way too.
If you want to purely explore and lose yourself in the world, though, you might be out of luck. All of the islands in the world are pretty small, and it’ll only take you a few minutes to reach the edge of an island and fall into the endless abyss. These small environments seem to translate to good performance, at least. The game runs pretty flawlessly when docked, but in case you do run into a few hiccups it also sports toggles for bloom, depth of field, and environment detail.
In portable mode, I didn’t notice a significant resolution drop from the native 720p, but I definitely did find that the framerate was pretty choppy and uneven. It still stayed playable, but was a little distracting at times. Most of those graphics options I mentioned earlier didn’t seem to have any significant impact on the portable performance, but I did feel a noticeable boost from disabling ‘detailed objects’. This also has the added benefit of removing some of the more distracting world detail in the game so you can get a better idea of where the materials you need are located.
Portal Knights is a cute little game that does a great job of selling the usefulness of the Nintendo Switch. I could see myself zoning out and playing this game for a while on my television, but if I need to go on a long train ride or I’m stuck somewhere on campus, the ability to pass the time by continuing my Portal Knights journey on the go is a great selling point. It might not be the best example of the genre, but if you’re going to play it then the portable option makes the Switch the best place to play.