Kingdom: New Lands is a very unique strategy game in which players will take control of a king or queen with the goal of protecting their crown. This means players will need to start a camp that will eventually grow and expand into your very own kingdom, hence the name. Speaking of the name, the “New Lands” part is there due to this being the ‘expanded’ version of the game. Kingdom was already released elsewhere before, but didn’t have several of the features it has now. I would go into the differences, but Xbox players won’t need to worry about them as they come with the game no matter what.
As usual, let’s cover the basics. A lot of strategy games don’t waste much time on looks or sound, as balancing the game is far more important. Luckily, Kingdom uses a pixelated style for its background, foreground items, and sprites. Combining this with some simple sounds, makes for a very pleasing experience. On top of all of this, Kingdom has seasons that not only change how the game looks, but (seemingly) can change other gameplay elements of the game.
Now, don’t quote me on this, but it truly seemed like my farms earned money slower during the winter seasons. I want to repeat, I could be wrong but that’s what seemed to happen during my experience with the game. Even if that’s not true, there are plenty of other gameplay quirks that I had to learn while trying to unravel how to beat the game. I will not spoil all the things I figured out, but I will mention that how you cut down the trees in the foreground is extremely important to your success in surviving for extended periods of time. Even if the player doesn’t directly do any one action, the player still makes all the decisions that determine how their kingdom expands and defends itself.
You see, the player’s ultimate goal is to protect the crown atop their head. So as players start the game, they will spawn as either a king or queen (can be changed during the first loading screen by hitting A), with nothing but a horse and a crown on their head. Soon after, players will find a few coins that will start to fill up the pouch in the top right corner. These coins sort of work as a player’s health. When players get hit while holding coins, they will start to drop coins. When a player is all out of coins, they will drop their crown when hit. If the crown isn’t picked up before an enemy grabs it, the game ends. Those coins don’t just count towards your health however, which is where the strategy starts up.
Players will quickly find many things they can spend their coins on. These range from upgrading your main building, building barricades, recruiting people or several other things. Once you recruit people however, you must decide what they will do for your kingdom. At first, this is simple as you can only buy hammers and bows. The people that take up hammers will work on projects like barricades, cutting down trees, farms, or outposts for your archers. These archers are the people that picked up bows that you paid for. These archers are imperative to defending your kingdom since they are the easiest troop you can make. Earlier I mentioned farms, which I used a lot during my time with the game. These farms won’t be available right away, but when your people start making scythes, farms are soon to follow to make you more money than you’ll know what to do with.
Personally, I only ever won by making a boat and setting sail. Doing this, I wound up on a second island that was larger and with a different layout than the previous island. Supposedly there’s multiple islands, but I spent too much time trying to figure out some of the more ‘hidden’ mechanics and didn’t make it through many of the islands. I found trying to survive on the first island for as long as possible a tremendous feat that I enjoyed trying over and over again. So far, I’ve managed to reach Day LXX (or 70) and am still going strong even if my involvement is kind of minimal at this point. Each time I pick this game up, I find myself trying to play it until my game is over, whether I win or lose. I’m not sure why, but I simply can’t put the game down until I know the outcome of my kingdom.
Kingdom: New Lands is a very easy to learn strategy game that makes players feel like they’re responsible for their virtual kingdom. I personally think the game could do with a bit more explanation in-game and a way to allocate troops but on the other hand, I understand that the AI just split up to cover both sides of the kingdom evenly. Other than these small gripes, I can’t find much else ‘wrong’ with the game. There’s not much else to say, if you enjoy managing simple resources while watching your troops do their thing, you’ll probably like this game. For me, Kingdom may be a bit on the simple side, but it is this simplicity that keeps me coming back to try, try again.
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