Most strategy games try their best to bombard you with information, but Kingdom from Raw Fury Games tells you nothing and lets your discover everything about it’s pixelated world yourself. This minimalist approach is the game’s greatest strength as you turn a small camp fire into a thriving kingdom. Complexity may be the norm for strategy enthusiast, but simplicity is emphasized here. This is a strategy game in its most basic and truest form.
Kingdom has you take on the role of a king or queen tasked with building/maintaining a domain in the shadow of a pixellated forest. Each day cycle will test your skills as a ruler as you expand your monarchy into the forest and fending off shadowy invaders.
The catch however is that you’re limited in the actions you can take. Like any prestigious ruler, you can only spend money earned for your kingdom and command your servants while riding on horseback. This may sound limiting at first, but never to the point where you are completely helpless all the time.
There are no menus that give you any kind of instruction, besides a few lines of text at the very start of the game. Most of what you do will come from the context of what you see. You can give precious coins to forest wanderers for their servitude, while also spending money to build tools for them to use for your kingdom. You can make hammers, bows, sickles, and other tools to give to your servants and have them maintain the area or defend from invaders.
Building structures is what will help your kingdom grow. This opens up strategies that focus on unit management in relation to structures that you build. When you gather enough coins from servants, you can build walls and other types of structures for defense. Most of the time will be spent running from one side to the other spending coins to build and recruit other wanderers.
Eventually when you have a big enough population, you can increase the level of your kingdom. This opens up more structures and tools to purchase for your servants, which is important for surviving each day and night.
Your biggest challenge comes from the shadowy monsters you encounter in the forest. They will relentlessly attack your kingdom at various times and try to steal your crown. Should they succeed, the game is over. No crown, no king. To prevent this from happening, you need to build enough defenses to fend off the monsters each night.
This can be as simple as having enough bowmen around to kill the invaders, but randomness can sometimes be too overwhelming. Sometimes a random monster will jump over your walls and attack you directly, leading to a quick game over after playing for a long time. This can be cheap, so you have to be well prepared for anything.
The game’s mute approach to explaining things may be annoying to some players. The trial and error needed to learn what works and what doesn’t can be helpful, despite leading to failure. The game does have an ending, even though you aren’t given direct clues in how to reach it.
Most will probably spend hours playing through the game’s many cycles before discovering a critical clue on how to get further. If you have the patience to go with the flow, then you will definitely be rewarded.
Kingdom is a very simple game at its core. Its gameplay can be incredibly frustrating at times, but still has an element of addictiveness that will hook you. The randomness can be a bit unfair if you’ve spent hours playing through a single game, mostly due to a few bugs or design flaws.
If you stick through all of the bad however, Kingdom will give you many hours of gameplay. Within those hours, you will experience all of the good and bad emotions that come with being a ruler. It might not be for everybody, but Kingdom still has something good to offer.
This review was based on a purchased digital copy of Kingdom on Steam for PC.