My latest obsession, and finally the reason to start blogging here again, is a beautiful little Indie Game called Kingdom. It’s been a while since a game has motivated me in such a way, urged me to figure it out, to get it right, to beat it. So far, I’ve made it a little past Day 40 before the little Greed bastards got my crown. But I am not giving up.

A pixel graphic feast for the eyes

What is it about? Well, up front, Kingdom is a tower defense strategy game. You are a king or queen of 2D Sidescrollerland, and need to protect it from the monsters that show up at night (the Greed).

The ruler itself has no purpose other than to collect money and spend it on recruiting new dudes, buying them tools and weapons, building walls and towers, and pimping the castle.

On your campfire you can gradually upgrade your settlement into a fort, then a castle.

What makes it good? Well, let me be frank: I don’t usually like Tower Defense Games. For the simple reason that I don’t like to be rushed in building or strategy games. I want to settle, to grow my lands, to take care of the people. And Kingdom, while being incredibly simple in its structure, provides this. You can beat the game in a relatively short time, I think, if you put your mind to it – but I enjoyed slowly growing the castle. I’ve read that some people find this boring; I find it relaxing.

There are different building sites to construct towers, walls and farms (over a stream)

In addition, the environment is absolutely stunning. The day/night cycles bring beautiful light effects. There’s fog on the river, dark groves in the forest, and fresh sunny days to be found. The colour schemes used for the different seasons make this game simply a pleasure to look at. The animations are adorable, and even the little trumpet sound when an archer ascends a tower brings a smile to my face. The UI is limited to a simple gold bag in the corner, and small circles wherever you can pay to use or upgrade something. Nothing else is needed.

Autumn in my kingdom

Ever since I played Terraria, I’ve been a little annoyed with Sidescrollers – they seemed so restrictive, too confined to two directions to go in. In Kingdom, too, it can become a little tiresome after a while, when you have to ride all the way from the outer edge of the land back to your castle, your horse running out of stamina half way there! But at the same time, it is so nice to survey the land, collect coins from your hunters and farmers, and see everyone pottering about, that I haven’t really been bored yet.

At the highest upgrade, three archers man one tower. But beware, you can’t assign them somewhere manually!

Another nice aspect here is the simplicity of the gameplay: I really enjoyed figuring out all the different possibilities through trial and error. You can find magical statues in the forests – randomly generated each time you start a new game – and you have no idea what they do. Just pop some coins down and find out! There’s no need for lenghty explanations or tutorials; three buttons are enough.

Don’t know what this does? Pay some coins and find out!

However, with all this talk of simplicity, do not believe this game to be easy! It’ll take some time to figure out the mechanics of it and to get it just right. For example, I once reached day 35 with a large, well-run kingdom full of motivated workers; then, after a massive Greed attack during the blood moon, I lost all my farmers and tools. I was almost alone, and effectively broke, in my beautiful kingdom – and had no way to get back on my feet.

The game is quite unforgiving in this aspect – there are no savegames to go back to! But it never made me quit in frustration, but instead I just picked up a new crown and started again. I will certainly do this as long as it takes to finish it – and I think it is precicely this kind of motivation which is saying something about the quality of a game.

The dreaded blood moon strikes every 5 days – so be prepared

I absolutely adore this game. If you’re interested, grab it on Steam or GOG, it’s a worthy little addition to any game collection. For beginners, here’s a few tips that might help along the way:

  1. To change your colour/gender, press the Down key during the loading sequence (when the horse is running). If your colour doesn’t change, click the banner in the ESC menu and restart. You can “fix” the colour again by “buying” the banner in your town centre.
  2. Your archers are your most important source of income in the beginning, so make plenty. Don’t make too many builders – be patient.
  3. If the Greed come at you and there’s nowhere to run, drop them some coins. They’ll leave you alone if they’re carrying something.
  4. Don’t build too many towers immediately: your archers will be more effective clustered around the outer walls than spread out over the kingdom.
  5. Once you upgrade to the stone castle, you only get 1 coin out of the daily chest. So make sure to have a few farms by then.

Enjoy your rule!

Kingdom – Official Website