Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 14, 2012
It’s a little challenging to talk about the Frayed Knights storyline without getting into spoilerific details, but I’ll try to keep it as light on the spoilers as possible.
Originally, Frayed Knights was intended as a single game, which I expected to clock in at around sixteen hours of gameplay. It grew. It grew a lot. Even after splitting it into three parts, the first chapter – Frayed Knights: The Skull of S’makh-Daon – is about thirty hours of solid gameplay.
The original story had to stretch to fit. It wasn’t too hard to fit things into the first game, with a bit of expansion. The conclusion is largely worked out for the final game, though it, too, requires a bit more fleshing out to fit the larger canvas. The “middle” act – which I now recognize as being a little weak to begin with – was inadequate to the task of supporting a stand-alone game. I’ve had to re-work a lot of it to make it (I hope!) a really enjoyable and compelling story in its own right.
A critical goal for the second games’ story is it must be a stand-alone tale: A player must be able to play this game “cold” without even realizing it had a predecessor, and not feel like they missed anything. At the same time, there should be some rewards for the Frayed Knights veterans where they get some payoffs for some background elements set up in The Skull of S’makh-Daon. It has to reach a satisfying conclusion at the end of the game, wrapping up the primary storyline and only leaving a few threads hanging for the final title to tie up.
As you know if you’ve played through the original game, I like a bit of seriousness in my comedy. Personally, I cannot enjoy a story where I don’t care about the characters, or where the stakes never seem to get very high. The Skull of S’makh-Daon struck some sober tones in the middle-to-end game, with a murder mystery the unveils something of a conspiracy. Frayed Knights 2: The _________ of ________* focuses much more on character development and delves a little bit more into some of their pasts.
The game begins where the first one ends – the Frayed Knights have effectively been “put out to pasture” – ostensibly away from the enemies they gained when they unwittingly kicked over a hornet’s nest in game 1. As it turns out, the conspiracy is much bigger and deeper than anyone would have thought, and the Knights may have accelerated the timetable a little bit by exposing – and defeating – an important piece of a larger plan. Bad things are happening, which even reach the remote country village of Roark’s Retreat, where both the Frayed Knights and (most of) the Heroes of Bastionne are once again competing for opportunities. Rumors continue to grow about the rise of an Ancient Evil (TM), a lich named Nepharides who very nearly destroyed civilization completely only a few centuries before. And – as before – the Knights may very well stumble into the clue in an unlikely place that could change everything…
While parts of it take a somewhat darker tone than game 1, there’s still plenty of action, adventure, and goofiness. The Rats of Nom make a climactic return. There Might Be Giants. And here there be dragons. At least two of ’em. And the Knights – well, they are still the wrong people for the job.
* Yes, we have a sub-title. We’re just not sayin’. Yet
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