It's something of a shame, then, that the engrossing story of Arthur's Knights
gets bogged down with problems of the game engine. Inconsistencies with handling objects, the 'pixel-perfect' placement necessary to trigger some events, and some confusing design decisions mar what could have been an excellent game. While it's still good, only adventure game fans will probably take the time necessary to work past the game's foibles and uncover the gem underneath.
And what a gem it is. Arthur's Knights tells two tales, although both of them concern a knight named Bradwen in the times of Arthur. In one, Bradwen is a Christian knight, working for the glory of God; in the other, Bradwen is a Celtic knight, believer in the goddesses of the old faith. I, of course, started out with the Celtic tale, but both of them are quite engrossing. The 'same yet different' style of the game reminded me a lot of Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!, where the reader is given a number of conflicting accounts and has to decide on their own what the real truth is--undoubtedly something in-between the extremes shown. While this is probably philosophizing a little more than necessary, I have to say I really enjoyed the premise of Arthur's Knights.
During the course of the game, you will engage in a number of different quests. For example, the first thing you must do when you play as the Celtic knight is to find out what happened at the Villa, and then tell your father the king; in the Christian story, you must 'subdue' a lord of the land who is stirring rebellion. This, of course, is merely the first few events in a long series of adventures, taking you from Uffington, where you start, to Avalon, Cornwall [where Tintagel Castle lies] and eventually even Camelot itself.
As you adventure to these various locales, you will be doing typical adventure-game things. You have to talk to various people, and as you talk to them you will gain new conversation topics, which you can then use to get more information out of other folk. You'll pick up items, give them to people, and use them to solve puzzles. You will also engage in combat, which is something not usually found in adventure games.
However, combat is just like the rest of Arthur's Knights--predetermined. If you've done everything right, you will win the combat automatically; if you do not follow the proper steps (which usually entail being honourable) then you will die. It's that simple, really. So no itchy trigger finger is necessary to enjoy the game.
All of this is well and good, but the game has a number of issues that mar the experience. For example, sometimes you will click on an item in your inventory to give it to someone. Other times, you will simply talk to them once you get it and you will hand it over. Why this discrepancy? Also, doors often require near pixel-perfect 'aim' to open them; same with picking up items. And sometimes doors that were once open will not open again until you do something else; you'll sit there thinking you're missing the sweet spot when instead you need to be completing some task. Very frustrating.
The thing that frustrated me the most of all, however, was the method of transit used between areas. Once you learn of a new area you can go to, you can get on horseback by simply leaving a walk-around area and ride there. However, you can't actually ride there--you have to click an icon and pick your destination. Once you arrive there, you may or may not be able to go back, depending on if the story wants you to. This artificial shoehorning definitely got on my nerves.
As a result, both of the adventures are very linear in fashion. You simply must do what is expected of you before you move on, because the game won't progress until you do. This long series of short bottlenecks is frustrating; while I wouldn't want to have free reign over the whole world from the start, the game sometimes felt like it was dragging me along for the ride as opposed to me actually playing it.