In 2014, Netmarble made a huge mark on the mobile gaming space with the original Seven Knights—an expansive RPG that even seven years on doesn't look particularly dated next to most mobile gacha games. Deep combat mechanics and a solid story granted it some real staying power. But on November 10, the Korean gaming giant attempted to do it again with a full-blown sequel seven years in the making with Seven Knights 2. It’s poetic, really.
At its core, Seven Knights 2 is a full-3D squad-based RPG that focuses as much on its story as it does its combat. And it doesn’t take long to convince you of that. A catastrophic event introduces you to a small fraction of the characters you’ll meet either through the campaign or its gacha unlock methods, and you’ll be swiftly sent on your way to chase a destructive force with a child in tow and a mysterious watcher in the wings.
Major questions arise as soon as the quest begins, and like any good service game, their resolution will likely only blossom in time. A fairly lengthy tutorial guides you through the first two chapters, but it’s loose enough to let you try (and fail) to clear some purposefully tricky boss battles along the way without giving you the answer.
Where Marvel Future Revolution (another massive Netmarble mobile RPG) has you control a single character, spamming abilities on groups of enemies in rapid succession and never really pausing, Seven Knights 2 takes a slower, more methodical approach. It’s not exactly turn-based; it’s real-time in almost every sense of the term, but perhaps not in the way you’d expect.
There’s no denying that combat could feel a little punchier
In choosing your team of four, each member brings three active abilities to the fray. Though they’re on fairly lengthy cooldowns, which can land you with little to do in longer fights, each character’s chargeable Ultimate attack—typically a powerful area blow or team heal—helps add some much-needed spectacle. Beyond that, you’re relying on simple auto-attacks to dispatch enemies, which you can either leave for characters themselves to handle or mash the attack button to the same effect. The choice is yours; that’s a recurring theme here.
You can take direct control of each member of your squad at a moment’s notice by tapping their party icon. It’s rarely necessary, but if you demand a higher degree of speed and flow to your RPG combat, micro-managing your team can certainly provide that. And if not, there are enough auto-play toggles to tailor the experience to your liking, giving you exactly as much control as you’re willing to handle.
Sadly, your other squad members seem unlikely to dodge telegraphed attacks. You’ll need to toggle the Follow button and physically drag them away time and time again. It’s a shame that you don’t have the option to eat a powerful attack for your own gain without risking a team wipe, though we'll hopefully see something patched in to help with that.
The action is deep enough right now, but there’s no denying that combat could feel a little punchier. There’s not much weight or impact to the battles, whether you’re swinging a slow war hammer or dashing around with a polearm.
There's every chance controller support could have saved the day. The tactile nature of buttons under your fingers and the rumble of a big attack can really help shake things up. Alas, the game has shipped without it, making its action bar combat system feel truly bewildering. Ability icons don't fan out from the auto-attack button by your thumb like in Genshin Impact or even a good MOBA. Rather than them sitting within easy reach, they're lined up at the bottom of the screen, which can make playing on something like an iPad—where the graphics stand out best—maddeningly unintuitive.
Fans of the original may find solace in the familiarity of it all
Still, the ability to tailor a team to your specification adds a degree of strategy that certainly helps offset combat that doesn’t feel as satisfying in practice as it does in theory. For example, your usual team might struggle with the Chapter 2 boss, but swapping out one damage dealer for another support character can turn it into a cakewalk. That kind of planning is required regularly throughout Seven Knights 2's campaign, which should go a long way in adding some much-needed variety to its linear progression.
Recent mobile RPGs like Genshin Impact offer fluid combat and endless combos, where switching between characters can result in delicately woven and truly mesmerizing battles against even the smallest of enemies. By comparison, Seven Knights 2 feels slow and sticky. There's still a degree of old-school charm to it at times, but it's hard to get excited by its mostly autonomous gameplay.
Whether a blessing or a curse, this one isn’t some grand adventure full of open-world exploration. At least not from what I've seen so far. While reasonably pretty and large in scope, heading out of the main city doesn’t immediately present a wide world you’re free to explore. This game is rooted in plains and fields separated by quests, fully-voiced cutscenes, and plenty of loading screens.
Fans of the original may find solace in the familiarity of it all, but just don't expect this to be Netmarble’s answer to Genshin Impact. You're hardly free to find your own fun, but if you're prone to becoming overwhelmed by that level of choice, then it could work well for you. Seven Knights 2 is ultimately a solid, expensive-looking game with all the grindy hooks you'd expect. Go in with your expectations adjusted accordingly and you'll find a fair bit to like.