Kingdoms and Castles Review

The dragon’s lifeless body fell right onto the exact spot where I laid the foundation of my town. As I watched the dragon’s body clip through the Keep, a sense of relief washed over me. Not relief for my townsfolk, whom I had just saved from a fiery demise. No, not for them, but for me.

With the slaying of that dragon notched on my archers’ scoreboards, I had done everything there was to do in Kingdoms and Castles….and I had just hit the six hour mark.

Technically, I hadn’t done everything…there were some Steam achievements leftover for hitting certain population milestones, which would take a lot more downtime than I was willing to pump into Kingdoms and Castles. So, more accurately, I had done everything there was that was worth doing, in the game.

Kingdoms and Castles started out as straightforward, town-building, strategy game. With around two-dozen buildings to construct, everything had a clear purpose and their functions alongside the other buildings made sense. There were no obscure rules to learn, or elaborate game mechanics to keep track of. Wood, stone, food,  and population were the only major things that needed monitoring; adequate water coverage (either from coastlines or wells), citizen happiness level (boosted by the presence of churches or taverns), and smart guard tower placement (to defend against invaders) were the only other facets of the game that necessitated the most attention.

There are a handful of other resource systems that need monitoring, but those that I mentioned represent the core of the game. As far as strategy city-building games go, they don’t come much simpler and easy-to-play than Kingdoms and Castles.

The game’s graphic style mirrors that simplicity. Featuring peg-like peasants, the game’s visual appeal comes from watching the dozens or hundreds of peasants scurrying around doing their duties. Once open housing is available, peasants will randomly “move in” to your town and they will automatically pick up on any available task that needs doing. It was fun to zoom out and watch the town in action. Watching the peasants all hopping around doing their own jobs reminded me a lot of watching tiny fish in a fish tank. For awhile anyway, it was quite a relaxing time.

Unfortunately, as pleasant as it was to watch…I could only watch so much before I found myself rapping my fingers on my keyboard, awaiting progression. Once I had read all of the little tooltips for every building there was to build, and had a basic understanding of what a good city layout in Kingdoms and Castles should look like, I had very little else to do as I waited for more citizens to move in, or for more resources to be collected.

Occasionally a viking raid would arrive, and while they increase in strength over time, they’re easy enough to repel that a few archer towers will do you just fine for the first hour of gameplay. They show up, slowly make their way into your town, steal resources and peasants, and make their way back to their boat. If you kill all the vikings you get to keep your resources, if not, you lose all they managed to snag on their way out.

Dragons would also show up, but their presence was a complete joke. The dragons would fly in at random times and mostly just float above my city. Perhaps the dragons in these lands had some sort of amnesia, because they acted more like butterflies than dragons. Only occasionally did they every drop a fire-blast or two down onto my town. Sometimes they never even flew near my town to begin with.

But I finally encountered a dragon that flew right through the heart of my city. After being pelted by arrows for a good half-minute, it was over. The dragon’s body vanished as it fell into my Keep, I breathed a partially-annoyed sigh of relief, and my peasants scurried on, unaware that their lives were about to end forever.

Kingdoms and Castles wasn’t a bad game in that it was broken, and it was even fun for a short time, but after I killed that dragon and I unlocked the achievement, I resigned as Lord of [Tom Already Forgot What He Named His Town] forever. I just can’t recommend Kingdoms and Castles; the game was not fun enough for long enough, and gave me absolutely no reason to play it all over again.

Not recommended. There just wasn’t enough variety of things to do to keep my attention past an hour or two. Feels very much like a stable, early-access release, rather than a full retail game. I will monitor Kingdoms and Castles for major developments and update this review as necessary.

Epic Brew reviewed this game using a retail copy purchased by the reviewer. Trailer and screenshots taken from GOG and Steam, respectively. Epic Brew is not affiliated with either.

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