Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross review: A deck-builder that brings alive Nobel-winning work
Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross is one of those rare occasions when you don’t quite know what to expect from a video game. Despite the demo being available on Steam, my first experience was directly from the full version for review purposes. When I first saw the trailer, my mind was filled with intrigue. After all, the overall presentation of a retro-inspired pixelated style is synonymous with Japanese games.
Olive Panda Studio may seem like an Asian name, but Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross' main plot is completely Western. It takes inspiration from the novel by Henrik Sienkiewicz, who won a Nobel prize in literature for his work. The unique blend of Eastern video game elements and a Western tale could have gone wrong. After a few hours, I will say that the developers have done a good job in several aspects.
Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross takes players back to the days of classical RPGs, but there’s a twist
Even during the times of today’s modern gaming, pixelated video games are not obsolete. Genres like turn-based tactics often utilize this approach, as seen in recent hits like Triangle Strategy. This retro aesthetic still has loyal fans, and Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross caters to their demands. Moreover, the title manages to deliver on its core gameplay aspects.
There’s no surprise that Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross has a wonderful flow in terms of storytelling. After all, it’s inspired by a Nobel-winning work! However, reading a story from a book and adapting it to a video game are two different aspects. The main plot feels engaging enough to not skip through and read between the lines.
Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross takes you to 15th century Europe, where you are thrown into an era of turmoil in Poland. The game puts you in the shoes of a young nobleman named Zybszko. With your uncle Macko, you start an adventure after returning from a war against the Teutonic Knights.
Without giving any spoilers, I must say that Olive Panda has done justice to author Sienkiewicz. While necessary tweaks have been made where required, the original plot has been preserved as much as possible.
Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross is an adventurous take on its core gameplay. You could mistake the game for an RPG, given the plot and everything around it. However, what you end up finding is a crafty deck-builder that adopts a turn-based approach. Simply put, you make your deck with cards, which are then drawn at random during a match.
Each turn gives you five energy points, and each card consumes one action point. The cards vary in their roles - some cause damage to your opponents, while others allow you to preserve yourself.
While I couldn’t finish the story, the role of cards in the beginning is satisfiably varied. The deck you begin with is very basic and nothing worth writing about. However, the more quests you win, the more resources and cards you get. The final rewards also allow you to pick between a set of cards, and you can decide based on the type of deck you want to run.
As Zybszko, you’re not alone on your crusade. You will have companions in your squad, but you can’t directly control their moves.
Squad balance is pretty important once you have enough allies. Every ally has a different playstyle, and it’s up to you to decide who fits yours the best. Having a balanced squad will ensure you survive longer and don’t spend your in-game coins trying to heal.
Fans of old-school turn-based tactics will feel at home with Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross. Esthetically, the retro style fits well with what the developers have tried to achieve. The original novel is over 100 years old, so a retro approach is commendable. It lets developers keep the graphical requirements simple and focus on key areas like deck-building.
That said, character designs are top-notch. While they appear as smaller figures during battles, every NPC has a full-drawn character art displayed during communication. I loved the art despite not being a hardcore fan of the pixelated appeal.
Don’t expect to witness mind-blowing animations, for there aren’t any. Yes, different attacks do different types of damage, and you can tell the points of difference. This game is not for those who love 4K graphics, Ray Tracing or advanced features. It will delight those who love a solid storyline that is backed by interesting strategy-enhanced gameplay.
The NPCs not only interact with you, but they also become your allies in battle. You’ll unlock more as you complete more quests. From my experience, there are main missions and side quests; their difficulty is shown as stars.
Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross has three difficulty modes, and I chose the middle ground. The easiest one will feel too easy as elements like squad heals are unlimited. However, go for it if you want to experience the story and not bother with anything else.
Thanks to the simple in-game mechanics and art styles, Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross is not demanding. The review was done on the beta branch, but I didn’t find a single bug across multiple sessions. The overall performance is pretty stable, and the recommended settings on the PC are pretty low. Even if you have a basic setup, you shouldn’t have any problems.
I feel that the animations of the different moves could have been different. Perhaps, it’s a limitation put forward by the game’s engine. The current system could feel lackluster after some rounds, and missions could feel repetitive.
Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross delivers what is expected of it. You get a great story that’s presented dynamically. Despite the lack of advanced animations, the dialog lines are well-composed, and you will find them engaging. The battles are pretty interesting, and they could very well test your mettle at higher difficulties.
The deck-building aspect will feel more engaging at higher difficulties, and you will face bigger challenges in the latter parts. The role of the cards could be more varied, but you won’t feel bored at any point. Moreover, you can also follow different playstyles depending on the types of cards you choose.
The game's name, Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross, could confuse you, but Olive Panda has given a fitting tribute to the source. This title has the potential to be remembered as one of the better video game adaptations from books in recent years.
Krzyzacy - The Knights of the Cross Review
Reviewed On: PC (Review code provided by Neverland Entertainment)
Publisher: Olive Panda Studio, Neverland Entertainment
Developer: Olive Panda Studio
Release Date: July 20, 2023