by William Thompson
reviewed on PC
Running the country
What would it be like living as a King in Medieval times? We have all watched TV shows about the era such as Game of Thrones, read fictional novels about knights and castles, or played video games in which we were thrust into either being the crown, or working for it. Whenever the topic crosses my path, I get the sense that although there were perks to being the ruler of a nation, it would have been tough having to control the masses and keeping the kingdom running smoothly. And in some cases, it seems to have been tough to simply keep your head attached.
Gradual learning curve
Kingdom Tales tasks you to lead of a fledgling nation and travel the land in search of a legendary dragon. The game is best described as a 'real-time strategy game for beginners'. The game contains forty-five scenarios spread out over nine chapters. Each has a fixed amount of buildings plots in which you are able to erect one of three groups of buildings - Homes, Production and Magic. Homes are where your subjects live, with each dwelling providing income to your coffers dependent on the size of the establishment. You start off with the knowledge to build simple tents and over the course of the game gradually gain expertise so that you can build large residences with an equally large tax income. Production buildings such as stone cutters are used to produce building supplies, wells are used to provide water, farms are used to produce food and warehouses store food. The Magic buildings include a Magician's Laboratory, a market and a Pavilion.
As you progress, new buildings are introduced, keeping the learning curve quite sedate. With only three to four buildings available in each category and most upgraded buildings having the exact same function as their smaller counterparts, there really isn’t much to learn. Some buildings like the Market and Warehouse add so little to your budding empire that they are safe to skip entirely. It all makes for a somewhat dull progression, especially since most scenarios follow a similar path for their conclusion.
Of course, buildings require resources, as do workers. Gold is the primary resource, collected from the taxes on habitable dwellings. It is used to purchase upgrades to buildings, buy construction materials and pay your citizens for putting their lives on the line when attacking creatures that impede your progress. Construction materials are required in order to erect the structures. Magic, harvested in the laboratory helps to prevent curses on your buildings and to counteract enemy evil sorcerers. The final resource, Happiness, is not used for anything except to motivate your citizens to keep the production levels up high and tax income flowing towards you.
Each scenario has its own goals, be it collecting a certain amount of a particular resource, completing a certain number buildings or defeating whatever enemy units are standing in your way. They only take a few minutes and are extremely simple - the only real strategy involved is to decide where you will build each of the specific structures, and in which order. Get the order wrong early and you'll be left with a supply shortage of a particular resource. Sometimes building plots are unavailable until roadblocks in the form of rubble, old buildings or a variety of creatures such as wolves or giant scorpions have been removed.
Graphically, Kingdom Tales looks similar to the early 1990's title Settlers II. The settings are vibrant and colourful, the buildings are easy to distinguish and the menu system is clear and uncluttered. Busy little citizens move about from one building to another whenever you produce something. They even do a little dance once all the goals have been completed for each level. The audio is also cheerful, with birds singing along merrily in the background as your peasants do their thing. Warning bells ring to indicate that food or water is low or a building has been cursed and requires attention.
Fun for a short time
Kingdom Tales is a game that feels as though it is much better suited to the mobile gaming crowd. It is the sort of game that you could play on a tablet for fifteen minutes or so at a time during your daily commute. Calling it a real-time strategy would be accurate, but in much the same way your household cat could be likened to the 'King of the Jungle'. Some hint of a storyline can be read between missions, but it's no G.R.R Martin epic. It is simply a tale of a fledgling kingdom and their progression through various lands towards the dragon's lair. The game is fun for awhile, but as you progress and realise that one level is primarily the same as the next, it begins to become dull. There isn't much substance to the game to make it appealing in the long term. All in all, Kingdom Tales is probably best suited as a way of introducing youngsters into full-blown real-time strategies than anything else.
Sound effects are nice. Gentle learning curve.
Levels feel repetitive and too easy. No real story.