Kingdoms And Castles

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRYGVpR1DnI&t

Name:

Kingdoms and Castles

Platforms:

PC (On Steam and GOG), Mac, Linux

Developer:

Lion Shield

Genre:

Indie, Simulation, Strategy

Publisher:

Lion Shield

Modes:

Single-Player

Release Date:

20th July, 2017

Engine:

 

Reviewer:

Charede

Product Rating:

 

Review Score:

73/100 (%)

Disclosure:

Copy: Press copy

 

Another day and another review and this time I dug through my long list of reviews in progress to dig up a fun little city-builder called Kingdoms and Castles by Lion Shield that I have been meaning to finish covering for a while now. Just a quick word ahead of diving into this review I played this a while back before its release and I intended to release this review back then. However, due to complications with my personal situation, I was unable to do so. As a result, most of my points here refer to how the game was back then. So to address this, I have got round to picking it up again this week and played it for around 8 hours on the latest patch which as of the time of finishing writing this is 110r7s. As we go through I will go through my points as they were but provide some additional information to reflect how the game may have addressed some of the issues I initially highlighted. The end score will reflect its state as of patch 110r7s. I think this is only fair to you as a potential buyer of the game, myself as a content creator looking to give accurate information and to the developers who in all honesty have been working pretty hard on making some really nice additions to the game, but more details on that as we go through.

 

Starting with the obvious Kingdoms and Castles has a very simplistic but appealing, vibrant colour scheme on low poly objects and environment. I have no issue with the colour scheme, but as far as low poly is concerned, I feel it works well for the buildings and not so much for the peasants. I would have perhaps liked a little more detail on my peasants as they were so low poly to the point it de-humanised them due to lack of individual character other than what colour shirt they were wearing. You can, however, click individual peasants for more information, but that didn’t yield much in terms of changing my impression of them.

 

Once you are familiar with which buildings are which and get established with your own rhythm and build order the game plays out nicely. However, the lack of a tutorial was a small nuisance, and if anything most of my initial issues revolved more around lack of familiarity with the specifics of this game rather than difficulty derived from challenges the game attempted to throw at me. Had I had a short tutorial outlining what your peasants expect from you and a quick nudge in the right direction as to priority buildings it would have helped. I can see for younger players that this could potentially present a big issue as it could make the game more daunting to get into if you are young or not familiar with city-builder games. The advisors are of limited use and will point in the general direction of any major issues but are of little to no use otherwise.

 

Generally, the game plays smooth with little to no technical difficulties, but I did experience a few issues when it came to micromanaging resources and peasants, and wells were a bit unbalanced. As far as wells are concerned when I played the game initially fires would rapidly get out of control and occur in areas that were labelled as low risk. This seemed very unfair and was punishing early game. However, it would appear this has been addressed. In my playthrough today if I had wells nearby fires were not an issue within its ring of influence. I did a few tests and placed some wells with no coverage crossing over from another well and near the outage edges of the well’s ring of influence buildings were more prone to fires which is what I would expect and they occurred at a reasonable frequency.

 

Another issue was resource management. It is all good and well being able to allocate resources to specific depots, and this is something I praise them for as some games choose to leave it out. However, I would have liked greater control over who specifically was collecting resources and the order in which they did it. The ability to select an individual and force them onto a particular task would have been nice. A great example is when selecting trees to collect first and foremost, you have to manually click every single one rather than drag a region of trees to cut like in Banished. Secondly, the order in which they go to cut them appears to be somewhat random as for when I watched them they did not prioritize them in the order I clicked them from what I could see having tested it multiple times. One way to get around individually cutting trees in the long run is to set up foresters who will automatically cut down and then replant trees of their own accord. But regardless you will find yourself in a situation where you need to early game and an even late game clear some land to create space for new buildings which leads to the tedious job of clicking every single tree one at a time. It would have been nice to select a particular person and override them to say oi go take that tree out right now. I was sat for ages trying to build a wall but needed one tree removed and for some reason after an hour of playing they had still not removed it. If that wasn’t enough where you have large dense forest I found clicking on individual trees in the middle of the mass particularly difficult, it just would not allow me to select all of them. Often I would just resort to clicking as much as I could and then wait till it was clear to remove more and more. Clicking on certain trees was just impossible in the dense areas. Again a drag function to dictate an entire area to clear would have been nice.

 

It would appear that some efforts have been made to make job prioritisation better and that comes in the form of a button down in the bottom left which enables you to slide up and down the various roles. From there the game prioritises putting peasants into the roles at the top of the list and works its way down. If I remember correctly this feature did not exist when I first played the game as I do not recall it. I could, however, be mistaken as it has been a long time since I first played the game. The feature all in all is good, the only criticism I have is that you cannot partially fill a specific role. It will only move onto roles lower on the list once an entire role is full. This isn’t necessarily a completely bad thing as it keeps it simple and it is easy to track which roles you have peasants missing for. It does, however, mean that the only way I can manipulate the number of available slots for each role is by going to each building individually and then selecting the close button to remove their allocation availability to then force shuffle peasants into other roles. One idea to fix this would be an icon for each active building that allocates people to the role you are looking at. This would enable the player to quickly cycle to them to manually turn them off. Alternatively, the icons could be used in conjunction with a hotkey jumps the player to the building of the icon they are hovering over or automatically disable the building furthest out of the settlement, least staffed or with the lowest production rate to save hunting around for specific buildings. A small little time and effort saver but one that is particularly useful once you have a far more expansive city, hunting through the sea of buildings to turn off one at a time is not a fun exercise.

 

The game features raids and dragon attacks which are the only form of challenge or difficulty outside of peasants starving or getting so annoyed with you that they leave due to their needs not being met. The raids are initially interesting and were something I looked forward initially. But in time they became predictable as the game had little more to throw at me and my defences got to the point where a well placed Ballista would take out any dragons coming towards my city and even with the three heroes and army limit I could crush any invading raiders that came my way. The raids in particularly would have benefited from scaling up further in volume, having greater unit variety and attacking from multiple sides. From my time playing generally, the raiding parties all landed in one location, marched in and did not appear to be focused on exploiting weak points in my city’s layout/defences. By the time I had a population of over 300/400 I felt pretty comfortable I could take on anything the game threw at me. In all honesty, I got complaisant as far as enhancing defences is concerned and the game never punished me for it. It is important to note though I have only played the game on the standard difficulty and it may be that this changes on the hardest difficulty. Again similar issues plague the dragon attacks as although when you first come across them, they are intimidating the threat rapidly goes once you realise a couple of towers and a ballista and those suckers are brought down very easily. The game also only ever seems to send one dragon at a time, it would have been nice to see a family or a big mob of dragons try and get back at me for killing one of their kind.

 

In summary Kingdoms and Castles is a visually simplistic but cute and bright game suitable for children that would make a great introduction to the city-builder game genre. The game makes for a very relaxed experience which is emphasised by the calming soundtrack. However, it peaks and transitions smoothly at just the right moment for incoming danger from dragons and raids which brings you into the more intense moments, especially early game when these pose a bigger threat. The game, however, does suffer from mechanics not being explained with a proper tutorial, and there is little difficulty curve to challenge the player in the mid to late game once you have seen all the game can throw at you. There are a few bugbears I have as far as resource collection and management of peasants are concerned, but some of this has been addressed in more recent patches of the game. Likewise, the map size and addition of a creative mode provide the game with a better lifeline. Personally, I feel this is a game more geared towards children as their first city-builder and for that purpose it is a big thumb up. Outside of that as far as adults are concerned I feel for most, it will be good for one or two playthroughs if you are familiar with city-builders. I feel it might be more to the taste of those not familiar with city-builders or gaming as a whole, or those wanting something on the more relaxed side. All in all a very good all round experience but probably just not entirely to my taste as I like my city-builders challenging. As a result, with the updates that have come since I last played it I am going to give it a score of 73/100 (73%).

 

 

 

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