King's Bounty: Armored Princess does more of the same really well. The stand-alone expansion to 2008's cult hit King's Bounty: The Legend adds virtually nothing to the original's strategy role-playing game formula, but the game does all of the by-the-numbers stuff so perfectly that you can't help but love the deja vu. While developer Katauri Interactive isn't going to win any awards for innovation here, this is still a must-play for anyone who loves this genre.
Assaulting cartoonish undead castles with a collection of D&D refugees is just part of the adventure.
Most of the plot of Armored Princess is a straightforward extension of the original King's Bounty. The demons that you fought as the champion of the fantasy realm Endoria are back for round two, and only the armored princess of the title stands in their way. Princess Amelie is the hero you play as here, a maid in mail who winds up being sent to the alternate reality of Teana on a hunt for her mentor, the knight Bill Gilbert, and eight magical stones that can save the world. This basically turns into an tropical getaway because Teana is kind of a Caribbean world divided into a succession of fairly small islands, each with distinct personalities. One is full of pirates, for instance, another loaded with barbarians, and so on. This adds an energetic atmosphere to the new game and breaks up your adventure into easily digestible chunks. This structure also bluntly lets you know how you're doing because you can tell pretty much immediately whether or not you have enough levels under your belt to take on an island. Running into a bunch of invincible barbarians on a new island is a pretty good cue that you should kick your sailboat into reverse. New islands generally have to be accessed with maps that must be taken from tough enemies, too, which also keeps you from getting ahead of yourself for the most part.
Plot and basic structure are identical to that in both its predecessor and tons of other Heroes of Might & Magic-inspired sagas. You guide Amelie across intricate maps of fairly traditional fantasy lands (enemies generally come with claws, swords, and shields, although you do run into the odd robot) with a horde of units in tow that serve as shock troops for battles. Whenever you take on some bad guys, these grunts do the fighting for you, although you give them their marching orders on turn-based hexagonal battlefields. Amelie starts off as a first-level wuss of a paladin, mage, or warrior (your choice) that can recruit only basic bowmen, clerics, and pitchfork-wielding peasants into her army. But with time, levels, and increases in her leadership stat, she will be able to field troops like giant snakes, giant spiders, ancient bears, sneaky buccaneers, creepy vampires, and many other D&D refugees. The goal is, of course, to explore the nooks and crannies of the islands, as well as slay evildoers and monsters. You'll also solve quests; buff Amelie by leveling up and tweaking her many might, mind, or magic abilities via an extensive skill tree; and progress to the final showdown. One significant addition is a pet dragon that levels up and has special abilities that can be used in combat. The beast's role isn't well defined, though, so it seems less like a traveling buddy than a way to cast extra spells during battles.