This game was a Steam special. To make it to my site, the price has to be special.
I’m a Ghetto Gamer. And this is my story.
Naw, just kidding. This is a review.
Kingdom was a $5 (half-price) Steam special. For those who don’t know, I usually try to keep my games under a buck. But not only was this game a Steam special, it was a Ghetto special. What better game to write a special post on how many times I can use the word ‘special?’ None. None more special.
I’m sorry, patient readers. I will get on with my review.
Kingdom’s plot is simple and profound. You are a king or queen. Your kingdom is built by the work of the townsfolk you recruit and direct. Every night, little dark men cross your border and steal the tools and jobs of your people. To prevent this scandal, you must build and defend walls to protect your borders. Sounds like a campaign tool for Donald Trump.
Even simpler than the plot is the gameplay. This may be the best game I’ve ever played with one finger.
Rather than a 2D game like Terraria, this is a 1D game in which your royal avatar moves left and right only. The farther you stretch your kingdom’s borders, the longer it takes you to survey it all.
Kingdom is a classic “minute to learn, lifetime to master” sort of game. Your actions are these: walk, run, drop gold, assign gold to task completion. That’s it. You don’t fight anything. You don’t build anything. You just wander left and right through breathtaking pixel scenery and designate gold to the completion of certain tasks.
These tasks include actions like felling trees, building walls, guard towers and farms, upgrading your home fire and other kingdomy stuff. Another important task is investing gold in tools for your citizens. Initially you can only purchase bows or hammers, but as your kingdom grows other tools become available as well.
Each night, little creatures from the woods come out and attack your walls. With luck, your archers and catapults can fend them off. If they break down a wall, they attack any villagers they find and steal their tools. If they have no tools, the invaders take their gold and they are no longer citizens. You must spend another gold to re-recruit them. In the meantime, the little invaders flee back into the woods with their spoils.
The ultimate failure comes when your King/Queen is attacked. The crown will fly in slo-mo from your noble brow. The music will swell dramatically as you scramble to recover it. If the invaders get your crown, you will be exiled and lose the game. As Raw Fury puts it, “No crown, no king.”
There are two things that make this game really great.
The simplicity of the gameplay makes this game incredibly simple to learn. Like I said, you can play with one finger. No fumbling with controls means you can really immerse yourself in the experience of the game. The day–night cycle is paced so that you are always on your toes and constantly scrambling to complete tasks before nightfall. And the bigger your kingdom becomes, the faster you must work and the harder it becomes to get your builders safely behind walls in time.
The other thing I absolutely love about this game is the beautiful art and animation. Pixel games are quite a thing these days. And my Ghetto-fabulous laptop likes them. A lot! High-budget 3D titles will never be properly represented on my machine. But when gorgeous pixel graphics like those in Kingdom exist, I wonder why I ever cared about 3D games.
Each day in Kingdom presents different combinations of weather effects. Sometimes the morning is foggy. Sometimes it is cloudy. Sometimes it rains. Seasons change. But through it all, you are provided with eye-popping visuals. Your reflection upon the water follows you everywhere. The parallax effect — from the foreground river ripples to the distant mountains — is stunning. The light cast from your torch is subtle but adds the perfect amount of polish to let players know this game was created expertly with love. By love experts (hubba hubba!)