The game: The Kingdom: New countries
Gender : Strategy, tower defense, Roguelike system: Switch (also available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, iOS/Android)
Developers | Publishers : Noio, Licorice, Law Fury
Price: USD 14.99 | UK £13.49 | EU €14.99 Age Rating
: US E 10+ | UK 7 +
Date of publication : 14. September 2017

Test code not used; purchase of the game.

Welcome to Your Kingdom. It’s made of wood.

The Kingdom: New Lands is my first game of tower defense, and it’s very different from what I had hoped for. Of course, you build, recruit and defend against waves of enemy attacks. But I didn’t know you could play like a rocker in a defensive tower!

Roguelica lateral defense tower: Necessary abbreviation

In the New Countries you expand your base sideways and claim more and more land for your young kingdom. Abandoned on a forested island, they survive the nightly attacks of a faceless horde called Greed. They’re both cute and terrifying, these little golden creatures chasing the coin and the crown. If one of them takes the crown of your monarch, the game is over.

Ultimately, the only way to ward off greed, whose attacks become stronger every night, is to build a stronger defense to survive the rebuilding of the ship. Leaving the island will take you to the next place…. a more complicated island. If you lose on an island, you have to start all over again.

are looking forward to the nightly attacks of greed.
Building, extending, protecting. The spirit of study is laconic.
What now?

The ghost character will give you some instructions on how to start playing, and that’s all that will help you in the game. No more tips, no more descriptions, nothing more.

It’s all about discovery, experimentation. They learn through careful observation and fatal mistakes. It is a double-edged New Earth sword, like many other features that make it both charming and boring.

Enjoying new countries

But let’s start with what was pure joy. First of all, the beauty of the landscape and the soundtrack.

Don’t forget to smell the roses. If they come back. Wait, winter is forever?
Although this game has no time to…

Instead of hovering up and down on the map, you control a ridden monarch (king or queen) who moves back and forth in the style of the sidewinder. For a game where you are attacked every day, it is usually very quiet. I spent a lot of time admiring my reflection at gallop in the creek, watching the deer running or contemplating the mountains in the distance.

The accompanying music is beautiful and gives the game a relaxed feeling. However, the music fades with the sunset, as the night brings a sinister and disturbing silence that precedes the attack of greed. To describe an experience as exciting, there has to be a bit of tension at the end! It is worth noting that New Earths received a nomination for excellence in audio at the Independent Games Festival.

Farms are an important source of coins.

Besides the graphics and the music, I like the simplicity of the three buttons of New Lands, which originated from the Kingdom’s mobile platform, and the text-based interface without a menu.

You can only do three things: go left, go right or use coins. With the push of a button you drop coins on the ground, especially to recruit unemployed tramps. If you push hard, you pay in coins to build structures or convert walkers into useful units: Archers, builders, farmers or knights.

The only error I have with the controls: It is annoying to hold the left/right key to let the horse walk. Although I can use the switch to push the joystick instead of holding it down, I still have to change my thumb every now and then to avoid fatigue. So this time I’d rather play on iOS/Android than any other port. I’ve tried this game with different controllers: PC with keyboard, PC with PS4 controller, Switch and Switch Lite. The Lite switch was the least cumbersome to use.

Too punitive, too dramatic

Let’s be clear: I really like this game for its general experience. But a big mistake prevents it from joining the greats: a large number of important but hidden rules.

Walls prevent the grass from spreading. They need both walls and grass!
Blood moons are a bad sign. Get ready for a bad night.

Let them discover for themselves how the game works, which is fascinating at first. Some surprises are big, such as the discovery of a new horse or gastronomic events (I won’t spoil you). But the other surprises aren’t. For example: If you cut down the tree that flanks the walking camp, the camp disappears. Say goodbye to your source for the new equipment.

Another example: The walls of the building prevent the spread of grass. This can mean a slow and inevitable disappearance, because you need enough grass to attract rabbits (your first source of money) and farmland (a powerful source of money).

There are many such rules that you have to learn to win the game and it takes too long to discover them. And once you’ve learned them, it can be boring to repeat the first lessons. Moreover, I wouldn’t come up with some important rules without consulting the online strategy guide.

Although I know the rules, I sometimes make a careless mistake. The consequences are either (a) it takes much longer to win, or (b) failure is inevitable but drags on.

It takes a long time to get from one side of an island to the other. But is the view of the pier worth it?

Which brings me to my second big grouse: Keep moving. Although I like the unique concept of side-scrolling, I’m a little disappointed that more time is spent traveling than actively building my kingdom.

I hate that my starting horse gets tired so fast. If your horse is burned, it will run at a snail’s pace – a good way to get eaten by greed if you are caught unguarded at night. If you push the horse too hard, it will shrink and resist. Tiring the horse is a completely useless function. Okay, it adds excitement to the game, but it’s more boring than helpful.

Moreover, the game seems to be too much time investment for too little progress. Yes, roguelikes are tough, and losing is the norm in this genre, but I think it takes too long to acquire the knowledge necessary to win the game.

The victory screen you strive for on every island.
Stuffed rabbits are grazing behind the walls, unaware of the imminent attack.
Repair destroyed structures in the morning.

There are six islands in the New Areas. I didn’t get past the third island. Losing on an island means starting the whole game, but with some features unlocked. So far I’ve spent 30 minutes to 2 hours on every island. According to my performance, it probably would have taken me more than 30 hours to defeat six islands, even though I knew all the mechanics of the game.

Once your kingdom is severely weakened by a crippling attack, it takes an eternity to recover. At times like these, I wonder if it’s better to start the game again than to let it continue and still lose.

These stone walls will not last forever.

Completion

I love how the kingdom: New countries have a look, a sound and a feeling. But as a busy parent, I wish progress wasn’t so slow. I would like the required trial and error approach not to be so punitive for errors. The term ‘handheld’ is often used negatively when gambling, but the game may need some handheld. Or faster. I doubt if I can win the game without a strategy guide or invest more time than it’s worth.

That’s because Mars is a unique and relaxing strategy game with excellent pixel animation and sound, and a minimalist interface to be proud of.

So even though I can say with certainty that I love this game, I’ve decided to move on. Not out of boredom, because I like it, but because I want to see if the sequel to New Lands (Kingdom: Two Crowns) offers a better experience.

Conclusion: I like her.

Dimensions:

How to load…

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