Last time I did a game review, I played Kingdom: Classic for hours on end just to be sure I’d adequately researched my review of it. Now I’ve moved on to Kingdom: New Lands to stay loyal to the franchise and to ensure that I continue to avoid work and household chores. For just like the original, Kingdom: New Lands will consume your whole life. A lot has stayed the same moving from one version to the other, but a lot has also changed—including some cool new additions that add just enough variety to keep you hooked on beating all the monsters and completing the game. (It is possible, although it might not feel like it when you get started!). You will likely need more than one sitting, though, as there’s way more game to get through. Yes, this new game has many extra levels instead of just one nightmarish plain for you to survive in!
Like the original, you begin your quest on horseback, and there’s a brief walkthrough to show you how to perform actions in the game. There are only three commands: left, right, and to drop coins—but the game still offers a surprising amount of versatility. Like the original, you play as a monarch establishing a kingdom in a land full of monsters that want to steal your gold, and eventually, your crown. You must build, expand and defend your kingdom, and you win by defeating the baddies and keeping the crown safe. But you can’t do it alone. You must recruit peasants to serve as archers, builders or farmers, who will help you to grow your empire and its economy. But be warned—adopt the wrong tactics and your kingdom won’t be able to sustain itself, and it will get overrun by freakish monsters that spawn out of their own faces.
The new game feels instantly familiar. It keeps the same look, with gorgeous 8-bit graphics that mimic the original landscape. For the first few game days, things are much the same as in the first one. So what’s changed? There are subtle differences in the scenery that might be something to take note of… Or they might just be for decoration. You’re still limited to movement in two directions, but there are new places to explore—some new lands (the clue really is in the title). You’ll progress through a series of islands, each one slightly more difficult than the first, but each with new items for you to discover and use. Make sure you look out for the blank circles that indicate an action can be performed by throwing coins.
If you have played the original version, you might find it takes a while to get your strategy right. This game requires a different allocation of resources to the original, and if you’re stuck in the habits of Kingdom: Classic, you might find it hard to adapt to the demands of these new worlds. I went back to the original before writing this review (research purposes, it’s a tough life) and I actually found it more difficult because I’m not used to the rules of that game.
You’ll need to plan a way to get off of each island, and while you’re working on it, you’ll also need to fend off the hordes of troublesome monsters that can end your game in an instant. Remember not to get caught out in the forest at night, but also make sure that you do go for a wander. There are others that can help you, but you need to go to them. They won’t come to you. Each of these forest-dwellers has their own special power that can help you build your empire and defeat the enemy. You might even find them indispensable. If only there was a way to take them with you to the next land…
It’s not necessary to have played the original game to enjoy this one. The walkthrough at the start is useful and makes the game simple to understand. Although the commands are very basic, there’s a lot you can do with those simple actions. Because this new version builds on the theme of the original, you won’t miss anything if you’ve not played Kingdom: Classic. I would still recommend that you do, though, because both games are delightful time-wasters, and supremely relaxing. Seriously, if I need to wind down from a hard day at work, I don’t run myself a bath or grab a glass of wine. I put some Kingdom on, and lose myself in a whimsical 2D world. Life is so much simpler there, and it has satisfying rewards, challenges and pretty things to look at.
Like the original, Kingdom: New Lands is available through Steam on PC, PS4, XBox One, Nintendo Switch, and Android and iOS devices. I received it as a present, but it costs around £5 to purchase—worth every penny.