App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
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There’s something familiar and comforting about omnipotently watching over a frontier town or guiding soldiers into battle. It’s the sort of activity that has a rhythm most iOS gamers are undoubtedly accustomed to at this point. However, while Kingdoms of Zenia: Dragon Wars does well with all the building and army-wrangling, its pacing is off.
An evil king has overrun the land with his evil armies and - surprise, surprise - players have to rebuild while slowly taking the land back; eventually bringing the fight to the evil monarch himself. Gameplay in Kingdoms of Zenia is split between town management and combat. Town management is exactly what we’ve come to expect from similar free-to-play games: lots of building, upgrading, and waiting. Conversely, combat takes place on an open field with two opposing armies facing off automatically. Players can tap the screen to use special items and attacks, but that’s about the extent of their interaction.
Kingdoms of Zenia never seems to stop prodding its players to keep them moving forward. This isn’t a complaint; it’s nice to have so many different tasks assigned at any given time as it gives them something (several things) to focus on rather than aimlessly messing around with their town’s expansion. Although that’s still certainly possible. The speed of the combat sections is also appreciated. Most battles are decided one way or another fairly quickly, and even if they start to drag on there’s a fast-forward button available to keep things moving.
The problem is in the pacing. It’s not that the wait times for resource or unit production are unreasonable, but that the stockpiles are so limited. Wood is vital for construction, especially in the beginning, and yet it can be a major pain to gather enough. For example, building a lumber mill requires 300 pieces of wood, but the first mill that players construct only produces one per minute and holds a maximum of 50. So unless they intend to check in every single hour it can take quite some time to save up enough for a second mill. Upgrading helps a bit by reducing the time and increasing the stock cap, but it also requires 450 wood simply to get it to level 2.
Kingdoms of Zenia: Dragon Wars is certainly not a bad flight of freemium fancy; it’s just a major grind due to the screwy resource handling. But assuming one has no problem taking it slow there’s a decent amount of entertainment to be had.