Kingdom is a procedurally generated, 2D city builder game in where you take control of either a king or a queen, on their quest to build a kingdom that can withstand the relentless creatures that awaken at night. Whether you are a boy or a girl is random though you can roll a new appearance on the loading screen by pressing the S key. You start off with nothing but a few coins and must set up shelter before the dark hits. A small tutorial is given, though pretty soon you will be left to figure things out on your own. This is a trial and error type of game so you will more than likely die your first few times playing. Other than riding around and sprinting on your horse, your only other form of interactivity will be to drop money on people or objects. You have no forms of attack and must rely on your peasants to get you through the night. To recruit more peasants you go searching the wilderness for them and give them a coin to convince them. Why they need to be bribed when you are offering food and shelter from the darkness we may never know.
Giving coins to the stall with a hammer will get you a hammer that a peasant with no profession can pick up to start building walls and maintaining your defenses. The stall with a bow will allow you to buy the equipment necessary for Archers, which will be your main source of income early on as they will hunt the lands and return to you with the profits of poaching animals. Archers are also your only unit capable of attacking for a large portion of the game and are absolutely necessary to surviving the creature filled night. You will need to build a wall so that they stand a chance at winning since your melee units are only recruitable late in game, annoyingly enough. Guard towers will usually be able to be built behind walls and station an archer high above ground to defend your kingdom. That may seem useful but in reality towers are a waste of money in this game due to the Archers never again be able to leave from it. It does not sound that bad, but when you start expanding and you have a bunch of archers stationed in useless positions, while your forces are weak from the previous attack and on the verge of collapsing, it can very easily lead to your doom.
Your doom can still come easily in various cheap feeling ways. Archers have terrible aim and when you have a horde of relentless creatures tearing down your wall, which can easily result in them getting through and wiping out your kingdom due to not being allowed to have melee units yet. So build more walls or upgrade them further you may think. Well what you do in this game doesn’t really feel like building, everything is preset for you in certain locations, so you have no say to where or what you build. You can upgrade your walls twice which is not all that durable and to upgrade your wall further you have to go deep into a random part of the forest and offer coins to some kind of shrine. It is fine to have little hand holding but that makes no sense. Tearing down buildings is not possible so be very careful about what you build. Buildings cannot be moved either, so new peasants that arrive when you have a quite a bit of territory will have to go all the way to the center of your kingdom to get a bow or hammer. That is a walk all the way from where you recruit them, down to the center of your kingdom and back to the outskirts of your territory where you actually need them.
Even then your peasants love to wander off and occasionally die a needless death when they are out after dark. It makes sense that your archers may lose track of time when hunting but when they see it is dark out they will very slowly make their way back without a care in the world. The dumb friendly AI and their slow movement speed combine perfectly together to make things far more tedious than they should be. Builders seem to have the worst AI as they will often times be off staring into space somewhere instead of being on the front lines doing their jobs and manning the catapults which only they know how to use. Sadly you are also affected by slow movement speeds and an asthmatic horse than can only run for a few seconds. In a game with no means of controlling anything other than going right up to the object you want to interact with, even if it is on the other side of the map, having a feature that hinders your means to do so is utterly unnecessary. Your horse can sprint a bit longer if you stand still and let it eat some grass though not by much.
Each day you receive taxes from your peasants and these are placed in the center of your kingdom. So imagine you have just withstood a huge attack and most of your peasants didn’t make it. That means you have to go to the center of town if you need cash and then all the way to forests, while hoping that your very slow peasants make it before dark. Even if they do they certainly won’t make it all the way to the center of the kingdom and back to the front lines to fight. You cannot tell them what profession to be either, they will grab a tool at random and you will not be able to change him into something else. There is no way of telling how many of your peasants don’t have a profession and are currently useless unless you stumble upon them. The amount that they ask you to do in such a short day is absurd and quickly starts to feel like a chore. You feel like less of a king and more like an obsessive mother, trying to bribe her rebellious kids into doing what she wants, one that has never heard of a safe and decided to throw into a lake whatever extra money she may have that won’t fit in her purse. At the very least they nailed the environments and atmosphere of the game. The mood of this game ranges from creepy to yet another perfect sunny day to good effect. Whatever the case may be the soundtrack definitely adds a lot to the experience.
The starting monsters in this game are greedy little creatures that will steal anything they can get their hands on and over all else want the shiny crown on your head which will result in a game over for you. They are easy to defeat most nights, however when the moon turns red they will attack in a massive horde that will likely be the death of you. Well actually these creatures will not kill you or anyone else but they will steal all your peasant’s equipment and cause them to flee from your kingdom until you bribe them to stay. The other two monsters that appear later on will gladly kill all of you however. Which your blind Archers and lazy Builders seem all too eager to let happen. I don’t mean to make Kingdom sound like an awful game, it’s just extremely tedious due to poor design. It could have been an amazing game but every positive thing seems to have more negative to it. Sure the world is randomly generated but with buildings being preset for you it all feels the same with no room for experimentation. You are free to explore the cool environments but must micromanage far too many things in person and night is upon you before you know it. Yes you are the king, though it feels more like being the paper boy with no say over anything, that just so happens to have everyone’s paycheck in his pouch. With better AI, a real time map of sorts that shows you how many peasants you have as well as their profession, longer days and maybe some sort of NPC that recruits peasants for twice the prize, Kingdom would become a much better game. As it is, I would suggest holding off on buying it and seeing if any improvements are made, if you are interested in what Kingdom offers.