Kingdom: Classic

My game of the weekend has been Kingdom. It is enjoyable and difficult.

In Kingdom, you are a monarch on a horse who solves problems by throwing money at them. Literally, you have a bag of gold, and your only action is to put money somewhere: recruit peasants, buy them equipment, upgrade buildings. It is a survival game, with nightly attacks. You need to clear four portals from which these attacks are coming.

A key but bothersome part of the difficulty is the lack of save points. If you make a significant mistake, you lose, start over. If you think that you are ready for the next portal and are wrong, monsters destroy everything. There is also no way to know how big the counterattack from the portal will be until you hit it. You need to be aggressive before the attacks become overwhelming, but you also lose for being too aggressive.

If you could save, the big decision points would lose their difficulty; “oh, it’s that big, I should reload and build up for a few more days.” I am not really fond of that school of difficulty. If I know how prepared I need to be, I win; before I know, I either massively over-prepare or lose, find out, then try again. Apart from learning execution, the game should take you about 3-5 tries, learning about how much defense you need before you try each level of offense.

That doesn’t sound very good, but the gameplay is interesting enough for its simple mechanic. There is an economy of recruitment and gold farming (again, literal: you have farmers whose harvest is immediately converted to gold), and the daily flow of expanding by day and staying safe by night. I do not play enough similar games to know whether it stands out, but it has a mix of strategy, economics, and tower defense. It is satisfying to see your kingdom grow and to watch your archers shoot down waves of greedy demons.

My only other complaint of the game is something by design: travel time. As you expand, you can get a kingdom where it takes most of an in-game day just to ride across. This can be mitigated by taking over the portals in the late game, and it is part of the design that movement is limited, but it is just annoying to take that thirty second ride yet again. It would be nice to have a mechanic balancing expansion that did not leave the player just holding down an arrow key and waiting.

Cerebral fun, not action-packed. Recruit, expand, build your Kingdom.

: Zubon

6 thoughts on “Kingdom: Classic”

  1. The full game is an interesting twist; it has islands (levels), and each islands limits what you can build or what is around (some don’t have the horse upgrade, for instance). It worked for a few levels for me, but I was already too experienced in Classic, so it wasn’t hard, and soon became pretty repetitive.

    Another issue with the game is unless you Google it, how the hell would you figure out what the random shrines do? Or that they need to be ‘refueled’.

    1. Reading reviews was very helpful. Mine above is almost spoiler free, but the things you say are what most people complain about. So I knew those going in, just from having scrolled down on the Steam page!

      Yeah, the game is lousy about information. That is probably a major source of fake longevity: just figuring out what things are. “I paid gold to … ?”

  2. It’s definitely fun — I have yet to win at it though. The wave from the second portal wipes me out.

    Best part is Classic was offered for the low price of “free” over the holidays (as a promotion for the newer version). Definitely worth it :).

    I second the complaint on excessive travel which is why I pick a single side to expand (and wipe gates) before tackling the opposite side. This approach hasn’t resulted in success (yet).

    1. I just had my first win. Yes, clearing the left side before taking down any trees on the right side makes it easy. You just need to figure out how much to build up before taking down the 3rd and 4th portals.

      Oddity: the game has lots of achievements, but none for beating the game. There are achievements for beating the game quickly and for lasting a very long time, but none for winning in that middle range.

  3. The full version of Kingdom just showed up in the new Humble Bundle at the $1 level. I picked it up thanks to your post here. (Other good stuff in there: Orwell, n++, Obduction)

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