Fit For A King is the absurdist, non-linear, 8-bit style, sandbox, Ultima-style game where you play Henry VIII and you can do whatever you want.
Literally, whatever you want.
Marry a bookshelf, jail your steward, fight a bear (you’ll lose) or swim across the continent by yourself. What does a King even do when everyone says yes to him? It’s boring, having all this power to do completely everything you want to, so you might as go bananas.
You start in a dream, to learn the controls (if only my dreams helped me like that) and you name the King, your steward, and your rival French King. By (t)alking to the steward, the aim becomes clear – you are to prepare an extravagant display between the two kingdoms. You want to embarrass the French King with a better display.
When you ‘wake’ to the real game, you have no gold – you have to explore your kingdom to open treasure chests, quickly encounter locked doors that require finding specific keys and go around collecting taxes. For example, there’s a room full of huge chests of gold locked behind the chapel (go figure) and the crypt beneath the chapel leads to certain death. There’s no map, you open up scenes by walking into them, and you have no idea where things are.
Tip – (t)alk to anyone about the summit and you get little missions, although I got so many I totally lost track and ended up fighting a bear in the woods (you lose) or getting sozzled in the cellar till I needed a nap in the chamber. #lifegoals. (Also, going to bed saves your progress.)
“Now, time to make some royal decisions”
The text-based gaming took a bit of adventuring to work out. There are 26 commands such as (j)ail, (m)arry and e(x)ecute, and you move with arrows. You can hark back to (g)raphics mode – a nice reference to old school green text games.
The Reformation According To King Amanda
(U)se bookshelves to read books. One book talks about reforming the Church, but “you have to be a King to do that”. Aha! To reform the Church, (R)eform the bible in the chapel. (You’re welcome). I detected a hint of consternation from Father Thomas…
…so I demanded his collection plate containing 80 gold. Stealing from the church never felt so… easy. A locked room by the chapel containing huge treasure chests requires a couple of specific keys. I still haven’t found them.
Reformation presents you with options to permit divorce, marrying multiple people, animals and/or objects if you give enough gold to the cause. (Did Henry VIII have all those options: Y/N?) I spent a bit too much money doing that, to be honest – so then I left the chapel broke to go collect taxes from my subjects. On the way, I met a bear. (I lost. Still not over it.)
All in all, reformation didn’t work in my favour, leading me to research how much Henry VIII spent or received in reforming the church. Turns out the real King got a lot more than 80 gold from the dissolution of monasteries, so I’m a bit shortchanged.
The Beheadings: What I’d send for execution
I am uncertain when (or if) the summit takes place so there’s no real-time pressure for the missions, so my aimless, mildly amusing wandering became a little boring. (If I want to aimlessly wander around, I’d do that IRL, thank you.) I hear you meet Machiavelli and Suleiman the Magnificent but I have no idea how I’d do that. In the trailer I see you can raft across the sea – to France, I presume? – but in my own wanderings I got to the pier and there was no boat, I couldn’t get the town crier to tell me about those ‘deaths in the crypt’ (so I sent him for execution, naturally – as well as a rotting carcass and a rat), and I acquired a lute and was given a number sequence to play a song (clever) but it didn’t work for me. I accidentally knighted the jester, and I wished there was a way to reverse it. Ladders make you go up and down, but a circle on the floor sent me into a basement with a rat and no way to return. The End.
(T)alking is largely hit and miss. Most words garner a “huh?” but some people, especially your loyal steward, help you with suggestions on what to do for the summit. The aim, of course, is to accumulate more gold, then spend that gold with people – for example, a suit of gold by the seamstress costs 300 gold – to get ready for the summit. Treasure chests and random taxation garners about 30 – 50 gold at a time. Apparently, you can earn money by (p)laying the lute, and it’s a nice touch to make the 8-bit theme tune from Henry VIII’s masterwork “Pastime in Good Company”, but I couldn’t make it play.
“spending frivolously on one’s ego is the noblest pursuit of a ruler”a book, Fit For A King
Adventure And Intrigue in Fit For A King
The crypt is a creepy place, (u)se the bones and they crumble at my touch, and funny looking tiles preclude getting shot. After the town crier out in the forest mentioned something about deaths this week, I felt this was a place of hidden intrigue and seemed a likely place to find hidden keys to chapel rooms. Still no idea where to find those keys, after wandering around the restricted view of the crypt for hours. This is Tomb Raider all over again, with keys and leaps of faith gameplay.
I was amused when I tried to (u)se the crucifix: “you try pushing it, no luck” (lol, I just reformed the Church, I think I’ve pushed a lot of luck).
Initially, I got frustrated by the non-linear confusion. The 3rd day playing it, I actually kept track of missions I was given by the steward and found the North of the court. There was something about exotic animals, and from looking on Steam I see you can go steal them from other countries. But seeing as Henry didn’t fare well against a bear, I’m not so sure. You go back to the steward “when you’re ready” so that must lead to the summit.
But I came to realise it is much more ludicrous and entertaining to go tearing off like a drunken, chaotic Bard wreaking havoc for the sake of a good tale. I’m with Tech Raptor in that I can’t wait to see how crazy this game gets via a YouTube playthrough.
Reminds me of: Reigns, Monty Python, D&D, early Pokemon and Reventure.
This is the ultimate Henry VIII life simulator, if only he had had the imagination. Play as the monarch of England in 1520 and execute a bookshelf. Marry the Bible. Knight your favorite barrel. Ordain your horse. Tax everyone.