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Need to know

What is it? A strategy game based on the legend of King Arthur.
Developer Inkle
Publisher In-house
Reviewed on RTX 2080 Super, Intel i7-9700K, 16GB RAM
Multiplayer None
Link Official site

I’ve lost count of how many endings I’ve seen in Pendragon, the latest game from 80 Days creator Inkle. Your primary goal is always the same: gather a party of warriors and reach the battlefield of Camlann to help King Arthur defeat his nemesis, the evil Mordred. But what happens on the dangerous, winding road leading to this fateful encounter is different every time. The characters you meet, the places you explore, and the enemies you run into are heavily randomised, which makes for an excitingly dynamic and unpredictable storytelling experience—albeit one that occasionally punishes you with a sudden and unsatisfying finale.

Pendragon is a narrative roguelike based on Arthurian legend. Some knowledge of the mythology will help you navigate the story, as I had very little and felt like the game could have done a better job of leading me into its world. The story begins after the breaking of the fabled Round Table. Camelot has fallen and Arthur’s allies have scattered, leaving him to face Mordred at Camlann alone. And that’s where you come in. You pick one of several playable characters—Guinevere and Lancelot are available to begin with, but more can be unlocked—and embark on a quest across Britain to aid him.

(Image credit: Inkle)

But here’s the thing: you’re gonna fail, a lot. You’ll repeatedly die on the road to Camlann, sometimes only a short while into your journey. Then when you finally do battle your way there, one of Mordred’s powerful knights might just coldly strike you down. But defeat in Pendragon never feels like a game over; it’s more like the last page of a particularly grim storybook. You close it, pick another from the shelf, blow the dust off the cover, and hope Arthur’s pals are more successful in this one. Failure can be frustrating in Pendragon, but the path taken to that failure is almost always interesting.

Defeat in Pendragon never feels like a game over



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