Generally, I find myself playing games where the goal is intense and driven. You’re faced with unrealistic odds, back against the wall, and it’s up to you to save the day. What if, however, you found yourself the Royal of a Kingdom in its infancy? Kingdom: New Lands wants to ease you into that very life. This is how they do it.
Full disclosure, this game isn’t new. While it’s new on phones and tablet devices, the game has been out for almost two years now. Developed by two folks, Thomas van den Berg (Noio) and Marco Bancale (Licorice) built this beautiful little game with the help of Raw Fury Games. Raw Fury is getting rather well known for their work with independent game developers, which I couldn’t thank them more for when I take a look at the beauty of Kingdom and Kingdom: New Lands.
It’s a simplicity in design that draws you deeper into the game’s almost frighteningly simple mechanics. Taking no time at all to figure that, in order to proceed with building your slight Kingdom, you have to pay the people and draw in the masses. The music cannot remotely be understated. It’s a triumph because it is some of the most thrilling and yet soothing music I’ve ever heard in a video game. I don’t get flustered over video game soundtracks often but between Kingdom’s core release in October and League of Geek’s Armello release in September of the same year — they had me captured from the first second it filled my ears. It will ease your weary battle-ready soul in moments and make your blood run cold when you fear the music signals an encroaching blood moon. This world isn’t kind despite the tender animation and it certainly won’t hold your hand, leading you towards a mug of warm milk for longer than a day or two. Don’t mistake its design for ease of play. This is a Kingdom you have to begin and it’s that same Kingdom that you have to rule and fight for into the new lands.
As you progress through the start, making sure those few stragglers in nearby camps can wander over with a few humble coins in their pockets, it becomes evident that you’ve got limited resources to protect them. It becomes a game between you and the night, watching without blinking, to see where the untold demons and horrors come from and what part of your Kingdom they’ll attack. If they break through, snatching the weapons and tools from your citizens, you can try to recover but to what end? How many people will you lose? Will you have enough money to repair the damage, be it the human cost or the structures you’ve maintained thus far?
It’s a simulation on building a Kingdom and watching it grow with the resources provided. Resource gathering games can seem tedious if you’re not into watching the pieces become the whole. When you build a house, it’s tedious to run back and forth with lumber and measure twice, cut once and all of that other trouble. In the end of that tedium comes the fact you’re built a foundation for life, for a future and that’s where you have to aim with Kingdom. You will race on your horse and search to the left or the right, you’ll either find something to aid your growth or you’ll find the very thing your citizens will fear. Protect them. Destroy ‘it‘. The concept, while being easy in execution, has nuances that you couldn’t begin to understand unless you give it a chance to wrap itself around you and drag you in.
You will scream ‘OH WHAT NOW!?‘ a dozen times. You will chuck coins at random people in their tented homes and tell them it’s in their best interest to don the pajamas of your Kingdom and either pick up a sledgehammer, sword or sickle. You’ll cheer endlessly when those citizens of yours survive the night. You’ll sigh deep as you destroy what is left of the scourge on your land before moving onto the next. You will do it all over again because that, quite honestly, is how Royals must be. There is no rest but the reward is replacing danger with solace. Raw Fury knew what they saw from van der Berg and Bancale. You don’t need the visuals of a triple AAA studio, the money and the power — to come up with something original, worthy of evangelizing and ready to disappear into.