Heavy is the head that wears the crown. And even heavier is the one that gets lopped off because they didn’t know what they were doing.
That’s the beauty of Kingdom: New Lands. You get a brief tutorial at the start of each run. You’re told to collect money, how you can spend that money and who you can spend it on. Then you’re on your own.
And that’s important because a massive part of the Kingdom: New Lands experience is discovery. Learning what the game is about, what you have to do, how you achieve your goals. What your goals even are.
The core of the game, though, is side-scrolling from left to right on horseback, keeping a close eye on the environment around you. As monarch, you build up and establish a kingdom by recruiting men and women for arms and craft, all while trying to figure out where you are and what your purpose is. It starts out as a Rogue-like, and you’re guided through the tutorial stages by your dead predecessor who appears to you as a ghost. You pick up a few stray coins and then start the initial foundations of a base by building towers, spikes, and weapons for your people to defend the realm. Money gets spent really quickly, though, and you need to be careful as it’s in limited supply despite how much you see at the beginning.
Overtime, as the days pass and your presence grows, you’ll notice you’re not alone and are often thwarted by goblins and other-worldly beings who seem desperate to attack you, your people, and your newly crafted fortifications. Once they take your crown, it’s over and the game starts anew. So try not to let that happen!
On your travels, you’ll also come across some interesting relics and artefacts but no explanation of what they do and how you need to interact with them. This is the game’s way of encouraging you to try new things, be open to new possibilities, take risks. But the main thing is learning something from the experience, whether it’s a good lesson or a bad one.
That’s what makes it so difficult to write a review for a game like this as it feels like everything is a spoiler! You genuinely want people to go in fresh and have absolutely no idea what they’re up against. It is so important not to look at any guides, try not to watch videos, or even know anything about the game before going in. The mystique is crucial to your enjoyment because each reign should present some new insight into the task at hand. It feeds into the larger story of your own unique journey.
But it’s all supplemented so wonderfully by the games’ beautiful pixel art-style reminiscent of a classic Sierra adventure game. The transition in the day and night cycle and the effect that has on the water, on the trees and the wildlife who roam around the island immediately draws you in and has you asking questions about the intentions of everything on your path. You’ll stumble across bright campfires, reddened skies, flowing mists and wind-whipped trees, and you’ll enjoy every moment of it. Not to mention the lovely medieval symphonies that really charm the pants off you as you play.
The Switch version is wonderful to play docked or on the go. It’s just the perfect game for dropping in and out of, whether you’re using touch or physical buttons, Kingdom: New Lands is mostly a delight, it can be equal measures relaxing and stressful, though it is unfortunately plagued with a few issues which the devs are looking to address with a new patch.
Among the problems includes the ballista which doesn’t launch during attacks. There’s also a huge save glitch which erases past sessions completely. Some of the builders won’t actually complete the work set for them and there is also some big problems with the frame rate. As such, we can’t give the game the full rating we’d like to, but we do plan to revisit our review and score once the patch is live.
To summarise though, Kingdom: New Lands is an enthralling gaming experience, minutes or even hours at a time. Whether you come for the strategy or stay for the mystery, Raw Fury do an excellent job of keeping your attention throughout. The atttachment to your monarch will surprise you, the twinge in your stomach as you wait for night to pass will haunt you, but you’ll keep coming back for more because you just can’t stay away.
Kingdom: New Lands is a diamond in the rough that is just a few extra tweaks and refinements away from being another sparkling gem in the eShop lineup.
+ Mysterious and charming
+ Gorgeous pixel art style
+ Discovery and learning how to play so refreshing
+ Oddly compelling
– Steep learning curve which can be off-putting for some
– Serious frame rate issues
– Some weapons don’t work and some jobs are left undone
Kingdom: New Lands
8 out of 10
Tested on Nintendo Switch