In late 2015, Raw Fury Games released their minimalistic indie strategy game under the name Kingdom. Since then it’s undergone a kind of reboot, adding a plethora of new features and a reworking of the endgame. It’s just released on Windows, Mac, Linux, Xbox One and mobile platforms, under the new name Kingdom: New Lands. Before owners of the original game throw a hissy, proclaiming “what about us” in Michael Jackson style; Kingdom: New Lands will come to you as a free copy. For everyone else it’s £10.99.
The goal in Kingdom: New Lands is simple – build your defences and defeat the demon words trying to steal your crown. The way the player goes about this however invokes deep choices with lasting consequences. By the way it’s a 2D side-scroller, so whilst the strategy seems fairly basic, every choice you make will have positive and negative ramifications. Simple input, complex decision-making. It is this key concept that really makes Kingdom: New Lands a total breath of fresh air compared to other strategy games out there right now. It is also this minimal yet gratifying system that will keep you coming back for more; I thought “yeah I’ll play it for a few hours and that’ll be it right?” Wrong! I’m still playing at over 10 hours deep.
Any budding kingdom builders reading may way to pay attention now, because now we’ll look at how you can go about becoming a legendary monarch. At the heart of every decision in Kingdom: New Lands is gold. This in itself seems like a little bit of a dig at our modern-day morals, but we’ll let it slide. Every citizen you hire, tree you cut, tower you build and farm you sow, all cost gold. Starting with very little your goal is to grow your population of lemming-esque people, turn them into archers, workers, farmers or knights and then protect your settlement until you can build a ship and get off the island. Moving on to the next island you’ll find improved methods of defending your plot of land, as well as uncovering some of the mysteries of the forest.
At it’s core Kingdom: New Lands is a resource management tower defence game. Throw in randomised worlds, kings/queens, colour schemes and that “one more day” factor and you’ve got a winner. The game is full of neat little touches too, like it’s endearing pixel-art style. You can tell the developers have put great time and effort into crafting the look and feel of the game. The mood of the changing seasons is captured in the resplendent soundtrack, which gives the player a sense of hope in the spring, and a foreboding sense of misery when the day draws in close on a winter’s eve.
Since the initial release of Kingdom it seems that the developers have really gone away and looked at suggestions from the community on how the game can be improved. In a day and age of gamers getting shafted by AAA companies it’s a joy to behold developers who actually care about rewarding their fanbase. If I could compare it to anything, Raw Fury Games are a fine restaurant serving their diners with a delicious meal and service with a smile. Many modern AAA developers could be likened to going into a restaurant, being served awful food and then having your coffee thrown over you for complaining!
Anyway back to the game. Kingdoms: New Lands has a day/night cycle whereby during the day you build up your defences and clear land for farming etc. At night your settlement gets attacked by a horde of demons from one of the portals at the edge of the map. Classic zombie/tower defence. Days are short so you really need to consider your priorities for the day, such as what will you build and when will you build it? For goodness sake don’t forget to send the merchant on his way again, or else you may find the coffers run low rapidly!
I really only have two gripes with Kingdom: New Lands. Firstly the game can become a bit of a grind once you’ve maxed your defences and have stacks of gold. That’s easily curable though by moving onto the next land. Secondly the randomisation of each land can be frustrating, as you may find yourself on a land with no working farm land, due to the annoying positioning of a stone or wall slot on top of the farmable patch. They are the only two negative things I can come up with here.
Kingdom: New Lands appears to be a unique time-waster, yet it really has founded quite an unexpected place in my gaming heart. I’ll admit that I haven’t arrived at the final land yet, so I technically haven’t completed the game just yet. But I’m looking forward to exploring how the game promises to be a top-notch reboot/expansion of it’s predecessor. Not only that but Kingdom: New Lands has some beastly achievements to take on, some of which require absolute precision and a careful game plan before even hitting the play button.
I can’t recommend this game highly enough and I also can’t see a single gamer who wouldn’t enjoy playing it; it’s relaxing and endearing style almost makes me wish I could escape into that demon-filled forest. Check. It. Out.
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