I stayed up too late again last night. Steam was having a sale on Kingdom, and it’s been on my list for a while, so I figured what the hell.
First off, I dig the artwork. Retro graphics have been back in style for a while now, but they’re employed to varying degrees of success. When you compare Kingdom’s artwork to something like Interstellaria, you definitely notice the difference.
While the later has its charm and is functional, Kingdom’s assets can be quite beautiful. Water is especially well-rendered, and the flora and fauna and background layers are also striking.
Gameplay-wise, Kingdom does a good job in creating a curious little world for you to explore. Mechanics are simple and yet there’s not really much explanation of anything beyond the first minute or so, so discovery a big part of what it’s going for. Figuring out how to build up your camp/kingdom, recruit peons, get gold, etc. are usually pretty straightforward and not overly challenging, but sometimes you’ll hit a wall and need to look around or learn by trial and error.
I found two elements to be sometimes bordering on frustrating, but they were intentional design decisions by the developers, and I can see why they were made. First, your horse! You can make him run, which you’ll want to do often, especially as your territory grows. Unfortunately he can get winded if you push him to hard. People in the Steam forum talk about learning how to manage him; I think he probably just has a hidden stamina bar that recharges if you stop and let him rest for a second every now and then. But that’s for you to learn — forget I said anything!
Second – the peasant AI. This is one of the main challenges of the game, and most of the time it feels fair. If you order a peasant to cut down a tree too close to nighttime, he may not make it outside the walls and back before the sun goes down. If you build towers, archers will man them instead of going out hunting. These are the kinds of behaviors that you have to learn. And many of them can’t be undone as far as I can tell (haven’t seen any way to destroy a tower or cancel a tree marked for chopping). But it’s a game that’s easy to pick back up after you get wrecked by monsters, so this isn’t deal-breakingly discouraging. My first playthrough I think I discovered a bug, though. Archers are supposed to behave in a certain way to protect both sides of your territory, but at one point I had almost all of them bunching up at one wall. After half my base was overrun and cleared out, the AI seemed to correct itself. =P
Anyway, I’ve probably said too much already; you’re supposed to learn this stuff for yourself should you choose to try it out. So I’ll just leave you with the game’s description from Steam:
Wise Rulers know their kingdom will fall,
Brave Rulers do not despair.
Great Rulers know their riches can rule,
And spend every coin with great care.
In Kingdom, each coin spent can tip the balance between prosperity and decay. Attend to your domain, border to border, or venture into the wild to discover its wonders and its threats. Master the land, build your defenses, and when the darkness comes, stand with your people, crown on your head, until the very end.
Kingdom is a 2D sidescrolling strategy/resource management hybrid with a minimalist feel wrapped in a beautiful, modern pixel art aesthetic. Play the role of a king or queen atop their horse and enter a procedurally generated realm primed to sustain a kingdom, then toss gold to peasants and turn them into your loyal subjects in order to make your kingdom flourish. Protect your domain at night from the greedy creatures looking to steal your coins and crown, and explore the nearby, mysterious forests to discover curious and cryptic artifacts to aid your kingdom.