Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Nothing in Kingdoms & Lords is unexpected, from its fantasy story and trappings, to the way its various town building and combat systems work. Even its freemium model will feel instantly, and perhaps unfortunately, familiar to those who have played any of the browser games this might as well be.
War is coming to the cute and cartoony Four Kingdoms, as opposed to the grim and gritty Seven Kingdoms, and the player is charged with building an empire large and powerful enough to repel the invading barbarian hordes. This dual structure is actually the game’s most novel feature. Back in the kingdom the game is medieval Sim City as players build libraries and barracks, manage economies, and expand their borders across the wilderness. Out on the battlefield though suddenly it becomes Fire Emblem as players lead their armies of swordsmen and horse riders in strategic turn based battles. There are even spells to unlock and skill trees to explore.
These systems, while a little basic compared to others in their respective genres, are fun and competently done and the game always keeps the player busy. In addition to the daily grind of managing the town, players are constantly receiving new quests. These can be as mundane as harvesting a certain crop, visiting the marketplace, playing the lottery, or sharing one’s status online. However, quests can also be long, multi-stage affairs with trips to other parts of the map or even boss fights. While not always exciting, between the rewards they give, and their quick pace, quests become addictive in an unhealthy, snack food kind of way.
The variety of things to do at any given time is by far the game’s biggest strength. It’s a shame then that the freemium model does everything it can to hold this back. Players need lots of different currencies and resources to accomplish tasks in Kingdom & Lords. However, while most can be replenished through reasonable means, taxing houses for more coins or using mines to gather more minerals, getting others is a bit more cumbersome. There’s an energy meter that restricts how many actions a player can do in succession. It’s annoying but at least it slowly recharges. What’s worse are the diamonds which are used to do everything from making buildings more efficient to recruiting enemy soldiers to buying other resources to skipping past length production phases. These beauties are as useful as they are rare, unless one is willing to pay of course. It’s understandable that the game has to earn revenue somehow but leaving players who refuse to spend real money periodically powerless is the wrong way to do it. At least players can take in the pleasant scenery and listen to the nice music while they wait for the game to be playable again.
When played in chunks throughout the day, Kingdoms & Lords is a fine, mildly engaging way to kill some time. Just be sure not to try and dig too deep too fast.