is a series of first-person RPGs
by From Software
(better known for the mecha-combat series Armored Core
). Despite being Japanese, the gameplay and story conventions have far more in common with Western role-playing games such as the Ultima Underworld
series, though the gameplay mechanics are far simpler and they still have distinct Japanese touches.
Games in the King's Field series
Main Series:Spiritual Successors:
Most of this article will use the Japanese names.
There is also a program called Sword of Moonlight
that allows one to make their own King's Field
style games. This program came with a PC port of the first King's Field
. There is an online community
dedicated to this program, which has made Sword of Moonlight
available in English and has even produced games using it. You do not need the Sword of Moonlight
program to play games made with it.
Unfortunately, much of the franchise is a case of No Export for You
. This includes the very first game in the series, which was released before the PlayStation
console was even available outside of Japan. By the time the PlayStation came to America, King's Field II
was already out, so that was the first game America got. For those who want to play the real
first game, there are fan translation patches, both for the original PlayStation version and the Sword of Moonlight
The three PlayStation games form what is sometimes known as the "Verdite Trilogy," as they all involve events in or that involve the Kingdom of Verdite, the dragons Seath and Guyra (who are basically gods), and usually require the hero to attain the Moonlight Sword
. The games are ultimately plot-lite, but actually have a bit of mythology behind them if you talk to a lot of people and read the manuals.
In King's Field
you play as Alfred, a prince who ventures into the Royal Cemetery to hunt down the source of an unknown evil and, on his journeys, receives the Moonlight Sword.King's Field II
takes place a number of years later. Alfred is now King of Verdite. The Moonlight Sword has been stolen and evidence indicates the thief is on the island of Melanat, which is supposedly cursed. The King's friend Alexander volunteers to go to Melanat and retrieve the sword, winds up discovering a slave-mining operation and a plot to revive the black dragon, Guyra.King's Field III
takes place twenty years later and stars Alfred's son, Lyle. Sadly, Alfred has been possessed and has become a force of evil, and Alexander died sealing Alfred in his castle
. Lyle finds out the truth of the situation, defeats his father and the being who possessed him.King's Field IV
is an all new story that basically has nothing to do with the Verdite Trilogy. In it, your main character is given the Idol of Sorrow
and tasked with returning it to it's pedestal in the Ancient City, which will supposedly break the curse. In the course of your journey you learn that the civilization of the Ancient City had begun worshiping "the darkness" and may have brought about their own destruction. The Moonlight Sword once again appears, but its a completely different sword from the one in the Verdite trilogy.
Not much is known stateside about the PSP games or the Mobile Phone games, save that the PSP series switch from free-roaming 3D to tile-based movement in the style of really old-school RPGs like Wizardry
and Might and Magic
This series provides examples of:
- Attract Mode: If you wait a few seconds at Shadow Tower's title screen, a gameplay demo will play.
- Bragging Rights Reward: You actually can get the Moonlight Sword without defeating Guyra in King's Field II, and use it as an equippable item. It requires a very difficult maneuver and lots of luck though, and then you find out the sword is not as good as the Dark Slayer, which you already have.
- Dark Is Not Evil and Light Is Not Good:
- The ultimate weapon of most of the games is the Moonlight Sword. This sounds like an aversion, until King's Field II reveals that the Moonlight Sword was created by Guyra, the "evil" god, to facilitate his own resurrection. It does, however, ultimately end up being a force for good in the games.
- The Infinity+1 Sword of King's Field II is the Dark Slayer.
- The first two games mostly work on the premise "Seath good, Guyra bad." However, in King's Field III it turns out that both were ultimately mistakes, created by a higher power who thought introducing religion would give people meaning in their lives. It backfired, horribly, as the two gods took their roles a little too seriously and started actually trying to dominate the world. Incidentaly, the final boss of the game is Seath, who is represented as a shining white figure who uses light-based attacks.
- Death Is Cheap:
- Somewhat in King's Field II - if you die near the beginning of the game you have to either restart from the beginning or reload your save game. Once you've unlocked Seath's Fountain though, then you'll always come back there with all your gold, experience and inventory intact.
- In King's Field III, Dragon Stones now double over as extra lives (formerly they were just this game's version of Elixers). As long as you have one, there is no real downside to dying. In fact there's a secret area you have to die to reach!
- Actually, all three games use Dragon Stones to fuel resurrection; the third game is just the only one of the trilogy where no additional action (activation of a recovery fountain) is required as a prerequisite. Die without a Dragon Stone in any of the three games? Start from the beginning again (or, more likely, reload a save). Die with a Dragon Stone but without having activated the necessary fountain in I or II? Same.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: By the end of the Verdite trilogy, you've killed both the major gods.
- Infinity+1 Sword: The Moonlight Sword is the ultimate weapon in most of the games, except in King's Field II where its the Dark Slayer.
- In King's Field IV it seems like its the Moonlight Sword, but there's a secret wall where you can find the Triple Fang, which is slightly better.
- Informed Attribute:
- You're told in King's Field II that only the Dark Slayer can kill the final boss. This is not quite true.
- Similarly, while you need the Moonlight Sword to get to the final boss in King's Field III, once you're there you can use whatever you please.
- In addition, the manual and game text of King's Field III make it sound like you have to have the Excellector equipped to level it. This is not the case — simply having it is enough.
- Market-Based Title: See main article.
- In Europe, KF: The Ancient City is still called King's Field IV, or we're told.
- Motif: The Verdite trilogy has a recurring image themed around each game's Infinity+1 Sword. At the end of King's Field II we see an image of the Moonlight Sword (from the first game) crossed with the newly-introduced Dark Slayer. In King's Field III those two swords are joined by the Excellector.
- Multiple Endings: In King's Field III its possible to confront King Alfred without reforging the Moonlight Sword. you get a Bad Ending implying that Lyle becomes possessed, and you also don't get to face the true final boss.
- Nostalgia Level: The Royal Cemetary in King's Field III is this for Japanese gamers (it was the setting of the original King's Field).
- Nothing Is Scarier: Shadow Tower lacks any sort of music beyond the opening cinematic and demo, leaving players to nothing but the sounds of the various monsters they come across.
- Pacifist Run: It is possible to get to the final boss fight in King's Field III as a level 1 character, only needing to kill one red mushroom blocking the path just past Lake Noel.
- Press Start To Game Over: Start King's Field: The Ancient City. Walk forward. Enjoy starting over.
- Spiritual Successor: Several, all of them made by From Software.
- Shadow Tower for PlayStation. From Software even incorporated aspects of its equipment system into King's Field IV.
- The Japan-only sequel for the PS2, Shadow Tower: Abyss, which abandons the fantasy setting of the original for a more modern one.
- Eternal Ring for the PlayStation 2, which is superficially similar insofar as being a first-person RPG but in a lot of ways plays more like a stock JRPG.
- Demon's Souls for PlayStation 3. The gameplay has changed quite a bit, but it has very similar atmosphere and quite a few Shout Outs to King's Field.
- Demon's Souls has its own spiritual successor by the name of Dark Souls, which continues with the shout-outs, including Seath the Scaleless. Probably not the same entity, but knowing From...