I absolutely love city builders, so when I got the opportunity to play this game I was quite excited to try it out. I went in blind, not knowing anything about the game, and had a good time playing it.

Pros:

Beautiful voxel graphics and good music. Graphics in this title are top-tier, I have no complaints with this style and thought that it fit the genre quite well. The music is good too, nothing fantastic, but it works well for this game.

The advisers. The advisers in the castle are constantly giving you advice on what to do or, in my case, what was going wrong. These advisers are useful if you are just getting into the game, as they give you an idea of what you should be doing. They can be quite annoying, but if something needs to be built, changed, etc. in your kingdom, then they will absolutely let you know. The military adviser even lets you know when a raid is coming, giving you some time to prepare.

The controls. The controls and the camera in general are really nice. It’s easy to see the kingdom at a glance and find out what’s going on. When vikings or a dragon appear, a visual indicator pops up with the option to jump the camera to it, useful when you need to find out where the raid is coming from.

Optimization and flow of gameplay. The game runs really well. Even with a huge city and people running about the game never really faltered. I only ran into issues when it rains, but even then I never dropped below 40 fps. On the topic of gameplay flow, I am very happy with the inclusion of speed controls. I find them to be a necessity in this type of game, and having them already mapped to the number keys made it even better.

Kingdoms and Castles (1)

Cons:

The early game. The early game is brutal. There is so much going on at any given time early on that it is pretty hard to keep up. Constantly having advisers telling me that we need more food, that we need more homes, that the vikings are coming to kill us, and all of that was very overwhelming. While I was busy attending to the needs of my people, I made the mistake of not building enough defenses and ended up having half of my town razed by the vikings. This happened a few times before I was actually ready for viking raids. If you manage to make it through the early game, it does get easier, but until then it’s just a matter of hoping that you don’t get attacked at an inconvenient time.

The late game. Once you’ve managed to make it through the early game, the mid-game is just a clown fiesta of constantly having to rebuild buildings that burned down to vikings and/or dragons. However, once you’re past this phase, the game simply becomes easy. Viking attacks are dealt with quickly and buildings don’t need to be replaced as often. This stark contrast between the early game and late game was surprising. The difficulty definitely needs to be balanced out a bit. There’s never a middleground.

Generals and soldiers. The whole generals and soldiers mechanic sounds nice and all, but they end up being absolutely useless. They have to be manually controlled to move towards the enemy and barely do anything once there. Their sole purpose in my kingdom was to slow down the enemy so my archers and ballista towers could take care of them. I just stopped producing them after a certain point because it simply was a waste of time.

Lack of content. There simply isn’t enough content to keep this game interesting for more than a few hours. I could only see myself playing this in short bursts of maybe three hours at a time, as that is all the time it takes to get a decent kingdom and castle setup. Past that point it’s just mindless building until the map is covered. More buildings, different types of raids, or even more random events would have been nice.

Kingdoms and Castles (3)

Overall I can say I recommend the game, especially if you’re looking for a few hours of city building fun every now and then. It doesn’t take more than a few hours to max out a kingdom’s potential, but those few hours are enjoyable. I can see myself coming back to this in the future to maybe try out a new kingdom layout or challenge myself with a harder difficulty.

Score: 7/10

You can buy Kingdoms and Castles here on Steam.

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