Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon is a 3D indie computer RPG for Windows featuring turn-based combat, old-school sensibilities, and a story of high adventure and comedy. In a world of jaded heroes and veteran adventurers, you play a team of misfits.
User reviews: Mostly Positive (20 reviews) - 70% of the 20 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Jul 24, 2014

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Reviews

“This is a game I’ve really wanted to like for a long time. However, I don’t, I love it! It was a breath of fresh air poured into a genre.”
5/5 – RPGWatch

“Succeeds both as satire and as a proper dungeon-delver in its own right. With great characters, enjoyable writing and solid combat, I’m more than willing to overlook some interface issues, the odd mismatched asset, and the need for frequent trips to the inn. Frayed Knights is well-made, fun, and entirely unique.”
4/5 – IndieRPGs

“Frayed Knights is, quite simply, the kind of game a lot of CRPG fans have been waiting for.”
GameBanshee

About This Game

Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon is a 3D indie computer RPG for Windows featuring turn-based combat, old-school sensibilities, and a story of high adventure and comedy. Who says RPGs have to be so serious?

In a world of jaded heroes and veteran adventurers, you play a team of misfits: Arianna, a dainty warrior with an attitude problem; Dirk, an adrenaline-junky rogue who doesn’t seem to understand the word ‘subtle;’ Benjamin, a nature-priest and an ill-suited newcomer to the adventuring lifestyle, and Chloe, a ditsy sorceress with a love of cute, fuzzy animals and setting her enemies on fire.

Adventuring is always a dangerous profession, but recently things have gotten bad. Very bad. Teams of expert fortune-hunters are getting "morted," suffering great losses against enemies that are better prepared than ever. In the taverns and Adventurer's Guildhalls, whispered rumors speak of the return of an evil that once all but destroyed civilization. But as many great and famous adventurers fall to this growing threat, perhaps this bunch of losers - called "The Frayed Knights" (but never to their faces) - might just be the heroes the world really needs:

The wrong people at the wrong time.

Features:

  • 30+ hours of gameplay.
  • Challenging, turn-based combat in a game that plays at your pace.
  • A unique "Drama Star" system that rewards the player for playing through tough situations instead of reloading and replaying.
  • A spell named, "Power Word: Defenestrate."
  • Over a hundred base spells, most with several upgraded variants.
  • An innovative trap-disarming / lockpicking system using character skills and items to disable a device one component at a time.
  • Over 80 feats to customize your party as they progress through the game.
  • A detailed, "stats-heavy" rules system... which you are free to ignore if you choose.
  • Nearly 200 different items to be used and abused by your characters.
  • A "Quarterstaff of Nad-Whacking."
  • Sixteen "dungeons" (interior adventuring areas), five outdoor areas, one village, an alternate dimension, and some green dude's one-room hovel.
  • A THICK (virtually) 69-page PDF manual. For those who want more than just the tutorials...

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP or Better
    • Processor: 1.2 gHz CPU
    • Memory: 512 MB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL + Compatible 3D Card
    • Storage: 400 MB available space
    • Sound Card: Windows Sound
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows XP or Better
    • Processor: 1.2 gHz
    • Memory: 1 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL + Compatible 3D Card
    • Storage: 400 MB available space
    • Sound Card: Windows Sound
Helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
25.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 17, 2015
This game gives me the 3-D explore feeling of Bard's Tale, the repetitive combat of Final Fantasy, and the spells, traps, and combat engines of Elder Scroll games. Oh, and then it's got the character personality of Three's Company.

Frayed Knights is clearly a labor of love done by gamer enthusiasts in their spare time. It's the genuine indie article, and the developers did a great job bringing it to life.

This review is mostly about game play. You play this game for an RPG dungeon crawler. You don't play it for graphics and looks. The graphics do their job, but the beauty is in the mechanics, the characters, the humor, and the story.

This is a dungeon exploring game, with heavy emphasis on combat encounters. You will fight, gain xp and loot, level up, customize your character abilities, solve some light puzzles, and fight some more. Along the way you will also fight things. After that, you'll wander through a few zones fulfilling quests while fighting things. It will be a rare 60 seconds of wandering that doesn't have an encounter... and by that I mean more fighting.

You play a party of four adventurer-wanna-bes with a loser reputation. Each character is already pre-classed, and the balance is good: A fighter, a rogue, a sorcerer, and a priest. As you level up, you can customize them in any way possible, making the rogue a magic user, for instance, but the party you're given will save you some time and calculating. Many events in the game trigger entertaining dialog among the characters. It's the kind of tabletop style banter that is snarky, while still providing exposition, and makes you feel like you know the inside jokes they're tossing around. I never laughed out loud, but I smiled a lot and I liked the characters. I think the programmers had fun with this.

There are about 4 or 5 major zones in the game, one of them being a town. Each zone has a couple of "dungeons". Some quick, many are optional, but there's a lot of variation. The dungeons usually aren't starkly linear either, which is refreshing. The town is really boring, though. It's Elder Scrolls Morrowind boring. I wish it had all the same characters and one-third the size, with no superfluous buildings. I'm sure it was built for immersion, but you don't run very fast in this game so it became tiresome.

Combat fatigue is the main mechanic in the game. It controls everything. As you adventure about, you will experience random encounters, ambushes, and monsters walking about. Combat is turn-based, and each action your characters take uses up endurance. At any time you can rest to recover endurance, but you never fully rest up. The more that you cycle through your endurance meter, the more fatigued your character gets, until finally, the character cannot recover any more endurance by resting until he/she sleeps at an inn. The trick of the game is maximizing your character abilities and balancing combat choices to be endurance efficient so you can stay away from town longer. Rather than cast the giant overkill of a maximized sorcerer fireball, you can cast the efficient but slow-killing disease over time while your fighters whiddle down the baddies.

The combat system throws you a few bones though. One of them is a novel game mechanic called drama stars. Your stars fill as you win battles and stuff, then you can redeem them any time for stat buffs, resurrections, healing, or my favorite, a full endurance meter top-off. These are a neat perk, keep you adventuring longer, and they're meant to be used as you get 'em. If you load a savegame, you lose the stars. If you continue a game after quit (not the same as loading), then your stars stay intact. It's an incentive to not reload save games every time something bad happens. An RPG first!

Combat takes time and deliberate thoughtfulness. You will never get so strong that you have a one-shot "I-Win" button. Even very powerful AE spells never really take out a whole group. It's pretty much the essence of the game, and it's not meant to be a cakewalk. It can be hard.

There are an ample amount of potions and consumables that you can loot and buy. USE THESE. Use them all day long and do not hoard them! They let you win more battles with minimal endurance spend.

Your inventory is unlimited and this is handy. You just don't have to worry about returning to town to sell things or playing inventory tetris to make room for things. The merchants never refresh their sellables anyway, and most equipment upgrades will come from loot, treasure, and quests. Your money will be used for potions mostly.

A lot of time and energy was spent building a trap and lock mini-game. Well, it's not really a minigame, but there are endless ways to disarm traps and unlock chests. Do you want to disarm the trigger? or neutralize the trap payload? or perhaps some mechanics in the middle? It's cool that so much thought went into such a small part of the game, and it is far better than some of the lockpicking dexterity checks I remember from Elder Scrolls games.

The spell system is probably also overkill. I felt throughout the first 5 or 6 levels that I only had small percentage of useful spells. Then suddenly after a few more levels I had too many spells to choose from, and boosters for my oldest ones so they never became obsolete. There are just a lot of spells. I played the whole game and never cast all the spells that I had. I enjoyed the spell effects for what they were, and the witty descriptions, but it became tiresome to search through spell books all the time. A better spell interface may have helped here. There are spell casting hotkeys, but only for 3 spells. As the game needs a keyboard and mouse anyway, three hotkeys was too few. Ten would have been better.

As you level up, the game opens up in terms of character class customization. Just as with the spells and disarm options, there are a LOT of feats, skills, and abilities. Maybe too many feats. It doesn't matter. Pick fun things to do with your characters and do those things. I spent a little time microgaming and trying to optimize it, then I just said screw it and picked stuff that looked fun. I'm glad I did. Maybe all the options add to replayability, or to the RPG factor, but there's just no way you'll even get most the skills and feats available on any one character. Definitely get the feat that allows you to detect random encounters. If combat gets too repetitive, that feat will possibly save your interest in the game.

The graphic user interface itself is clunky and needs polish, but it is manageable. There are buttons in weird places, and it takes too many clicks to get to spells or inventory. It's also heavily dependent on keyboard/mouse. Luckily, the most common combat functions have keyboard hotkeys. A suggestion for next time would be tiny interface buttons for each character that you can drop in consumables or spells, a la Diablo.

So try the game out. Get past the graphics and the UI, and enjoy the billions of combat options.

A final note, there's humor in this game at every turn. It's subtle, it's smart, it's the kind of humor I would use with my own gamer friends. You're supposed to have a good time with this.

Thanks for reading.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 25, 2015
A throw back to the old RPG "blobbers" of the late 80s/early 90s. I love those old games and this game certainly scratched that itch. Drama star system was a fun addition and prevented save scumming. Also, the pregenerated characters were genuinly fun and entertaining.

Really, for me, the one downside was the GUI was a bit rough but it was workable and didn't hold back my enjoyment of the game.

Looking forward to the sequel.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
5.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 1
I rarely write interviews for games on Steam, but I really enjoyed this one. Know what you're getting into. The price tag reflects the quality of the graphics, music and what not. Its an indie game made by a very small team and it shows. The style is cartoony, and light hearted and that's not everyone's thing. You also have a group of premade characters, though the freeform skill system still means you can "multiclass" them with few problems. For example the thief can be effective made into a combat oriented thief or a thief/cleric type character. I made my mage into an archer/mage for example. The game is a first person/party based game and it looks a lot like Wizardry 8 and feels like it too. There are random encounters, the game has a lot of party building options, and so its not really a casual game. Its a short, fun RPG if you like these kinds of games. Its not Might and Magic 10 or Wizardry 8, but if you have enjoyed those and are looking for something similar and don't mind the shorter playing time and light hearted gameplay, than I can definately recommend Frayed Knights.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
20.0 hrs on record
Posted: January 31
A fine blobber with lots of witty banter. The only part of the game that I disliked were the random encounters - too many of them can be resolved simply by mashing the attack button for a minute or two until the enemies are dead. That kind of gameplay is not fun or interesting in any way; for the sequel, I'd prefer to see fewer, more complex encounters instead.

On the technical side: the game not very alt-tab friendly - the graphics can bug out and the fps can drop down to 3 FPS when you change back to the window. There's also a small bug where taking items with the "inventory" button (or by hitting the space bar) fails to trigger certain states. To be on the safe side, you should always use the "done" button when looting unique items.
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38 of 43 people (88%) found this review helpful
2.7 hrs on record
Posted: July 22, 2014
I bought the game from the dev's site when it first came out in 2011. I played through the entire game in one marathon session, which took me 20ish hours. If you like old school dungeon crawlers, you will love this game. You have a premade party, which seems like it was done to make the story work, but it's pretty open to how you develop each character's abilities. The game is very tongue-in-cheek, and the characters sometimes break the 4th wall. The dungeons are very well designed and many contain secrets, hidden areas, and puzzles(The Tower of Almost Certain Death is the best IMHO). The game is balanced around attrition, so if you never use consumbables or make poor decisions you will be going back to town to rest or reloading a lot. Most of the mainstream reviewers complained about this, but I didn't really have a problem with it. Judicious use of "liquid nap" potions and drama stars will keep you from going back to town constantly. It's obvious that the designer has a deep love and understanding about what makes old school RPGs work, which many devs who try to make new games with older styles don't understand. The only thing I have bad to say about it is that the UI isn't great. It's not horrible, I never had any problems figuring out how to do what I needed to do, but it could have definitely been more streamlined. Still, that is a minor quibble for what was overall a great experience. I'm looking forward to FK2.

edit: spelling
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