by Sean Martin
previewed on PC
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Visiting Kalypso this year at Gamescom I was shown the new game by Kasedo, their digital subdivision, Distant Kingdoms. The game is a fantasy town builder — you place your settlement and slowly over time build it into a teeming fantasy town. But there is more than initially meets the eye. Distant Kingdoms also has four separate fantasy races, mechanics related to magic, and a text based adventure system, really taking advantage of the fantasy setting. I feel like without these extra mechanics the game would be fairly generic, but with them, especially at this stage of development, it gives the impression of a somewhat more interesting town-builder.
At its heart the game is fairly simple — you have to cater to the needs of your citizens, worrying about their desires and happiness (if they are discontented, peasants will start setting fires). On top of this you have to consider the chains that create certain resources. Say you have farms, but need to turn that wheat into flour, then you build a windmill. But then you also need a bakery to turn that flour into bread. This is just the chain for a basic food item, and as time goes on you can also upgrade the class of your citizens — this will make them more effective workers and supervisors, but they will also have more complex desires.
As you expand you will also need to trade between your other settlements to make sure you have an adequate amount of resources in each. The four fantasy races also come into play, each with a work specialty — Dwarves for example, give a productivity bonus in a mine if the majority of workers are Dwarvish. You can also build a sorcerer’s dwelling which will harvest mana — this mana can then be used to cast spells, which will confer positive effects upon your citizenry. You can also build totems which will apply other permanent area buffs, but will require mana upkeep.
The text based adventure component of the game is also one that has quite a lot of potential. If you want to explore a new area you must first hire adventurers at the tavern, then send them on an expedition to explore it. Once they get there the adventure will begin, in the form of text based scenarios — every member has an action point, and as you move through each encounter in the adventure you will be required to use each in turn based on their specific skills. Once you complete the adventure, the area will be free for colonization.
From what I saw Distant Kingdoms is fairly regular as a town builder, but I really like the way it uses its fantasy genre to differentiate mechanics and add points of interest, such as the point and click adventure system or the spells. I think If Orthrus Games double down on representing these aspects of fantasy in really interesting ways, then Distant Kingdoms might find a way to rise above the average town builder.