I can imagine that everyone has this idea of grandeur when they think of what it’s like to be royalty. As a king or queen you live in a beautiful palace, overlooking wonderful lands. People will wait on you hand and foot, wanting to make sure you are happy and content. Danger to your life is reduced with your army of troops. All your wealth stored away so that thieves and vagabonds can’t get their sticky fingers on it. I admit this was my impression. That was until I played the two titles that make up Kingdom Majestic. Kingdom New Lands and Two Crowns are set in a strange and desolate land. You must recruit the help of the local peasants and build your empire from the roots up. Being royalty has never been so difficult.
Developed by Noi, and published by Microids in partnership with Raw Fury, Kingdom Majestic is a tale about a king or queen who travel to a new world. Your aim is to explore the island that you now call home. You must expand your territory and discover the wrecked boat. Repairing this vessel will enable you to leave this land, and journey to another. Five lands await in this resource management/adventure building simulator. The premise of the game is simple: collect gold, hire the locals, and expand your empire. Sounds straightforward, right? The idea is easy to understand, but the obstacles you encounter make this a challenging title.
Life on your island would be calm and serene if it wasn’t for the evil ‘Greedlings’. During the day you are free to explore or order your loyal subjects to remove trees and build structures. The sunsets and the moon rises. You will now encounter the ‘Greed’. They will exit their world and enter yours through a dark and mysterious portal. Hell-bent on attacking everything you own. They will damage your buildings, steal your items, take your money and they will even steal your crown! If you allow that to happen, it is game over, and your adventure will come to an abrupt end. You must plan to expand during the day, but you must return to the safety of your home at night. Reinforce the walls and protect your boundary with troops. The only things that will stop the Greed are money, an arrow or daylight.
All actions need you to have money. Hire a peasant: one coin. Build a wall: one coin. Create weapons: more coins. Money makes the world go round. It is the most valuable commodity in Kingdom Majestic. Completing tasks will reward you with gold. Your people will collect it for you and throw it at your feet like confetti at a wedding. The amount you get in a day varies. No matter how much you have, it’s never enough. When you build the boat, you’ll need a small mortgage. Patience and planning are necessary if you wish to venture forth. This drip-feeding of resources makes the gameplay slow and arduous. I found that once I had finished exploring, I would collect my taxes and hide by my castle waiting for time to pass me by. As such, this may not be for everyone. You are more tentative and selective about your tasks. One wrong move causes permadeath.
We know what the gameplay is all about; building, expanding, defending, and exploring. But what are the differences between the New Lands and Two Crowns titles? The first is a solo experience that is all about the feeling of isolation. You rely on your own strengths and plan how long you wish to stay on each stage. When I discovered that Two Crowns allowed co-op action, it concerned me. I thought it would ruin what makes the Kingdom series enjoyable, but I had nothing to worry about. The addition of a second gamer added a whole new element. Not only were you planning what your subjects were doing. You now had to ensure that you were on the same hymn sheet as the player in the world with you. Good communication and utilising joint resources meant that success was the likely result. Other than the addition of another player, Two Crowns plays exactly like New Lands. You will experience the same game mechanics, graphics, controls and audio. This isn’t a criticism. Each element works well. It didn’t surprise me that the developers didn’t want to move away from a tried and tested formula.
Viewed from a 2D perspective, all the action plays out on the horizontal axis. The island stretches from a dock in the West, and an impassable cliff to the East. In between trees and rivers punctuate the landscape. A pixel art style gives the game a retro feel. The earthy colour palette and dark tones add to the ominous atmosphere. A game that wouldn’t look out of place on a 16-bit console, yet it works so well on a modern console. The developers have created a game that is simple to look at and compliments both the theme and genre.
A whimsical and medieval soundtrack accompanies you throughout your time. The music plays in the background, where a stringed instrument strums an upbeat tune. At odds with the dank world that you find yourself in. Being chased through the swamps to the soundtrack of a banquet of times gone by was strange. The twang of bows and the thud of arrows were a joy to listen to. The Greed clawing at your walls fills you with dread. Noi has created a basic and atmospheric soundtrack, which works well with the theme.
Created for the PC, the Kingdom series uses a keyboard and mouse. I admit I was a little concerned about how well it would convert to console play. I had little to worry about. Four actions are attached to several buttons that are easy to master. The king or queen has no ability to attack or jump. You spend your whole time walking or trotting with your horse. Holding down the action button orders your people to start a task. Frustratingly, you can not prioritise tasks. Nor can you cancel them once they have started. You will lose several followers through poor planning and bad luck. The developers should have created a task list for utilising micromanagement. Thus, overcoming this issue.
A game that has such a simple premise has the potential to be quick to play, and easy to forget. Kingdom majestic draws you back into the action repeatedly. Your camp comes together. Your faithful followers throw money at you in vast quantities. You begin to make plans to build your boat. The Greed take your crown, and your world comes crashing down. You shake your head in disappointment, and say to yourself, “one more try!” Minutes fade away, and then it’s the early hours of the morning. It gets under your skin, you don’t want to fail, but it’s almost a certainty in this tough 2d adventure. Each separate game has its own long and tough achievement list. Increasing the replay value. If you were to be lucky enough to find each boat without issue, you could finish a playthrough in five hours. But to complete this title, you are looking at sacrificing a considerable amount of time.
Kingdom Majestic isn’t for the faint of heart. You begin with a small tutorial, then you are on your own. Most of your tutelage will come from repeated failings. It’s brutal, yet enjoyable. A lack of both attack and defence abilities leaves you feeling helpless when the Greed comes to town. Expanding before you are ready, which leaves you exposed. These are errors that you will make and regret! Would I recommend that you play this? Absolutely! You’ll be stumbling around in the dark, making plenty of mistakes. But when it comes together, the experience is wonderful. You’ll realise that it’s all worth the effort. Mount your horse and call upon your people. It’s time to build a new Kingdom in this strange land.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Kingdom Majestic Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 7/10
Life as royalty is glamorous, and easygoing, right? Not in Kingdom Majestic. You must create your empire from the roots up. Round up your people and steer clear of the “Greed”.
- Simple yet challenging game mechanics.
- The controls are easy to learn.
- The graphics are simple, and the action is smooth with little issues.
- The audio is basic, yet works well.
- Plenty of replay value.
- Slow gameplay will not be for everyone.
- Learning by failure will put off a number of gamers.