A game doesn’t always have to have insanely good graphics, sophisticated gameplay mechanics, or an insanely detailed story to be considered a “good video game.” Kingdom Two Crowns, a side-scrolling strategy game that initially launched on consoles and PC, completely takes what’s familiar in other major strategy titles and breaks it down into one of the most interesting minimalistic, rogue-like experiences for mobile devices.
During Kingdom Two Crowns, you play as a monarch on your trusty mount of a newly developed kingdom who is tasked with recruiting citizens. You’ll begin with nothing but a bit of land and a few coins for villagers to get things going. Once insisted, villagers will build your kingdom out further, cultivate crops, and defend the kingdom at night from “The Greed” who will try to break in and steal your money and crown.
Pretty much, any work that your subjects do earns you more coins, which you’ll have to budget over time. Eventually, you’ll have enough to build a ship to take you and your subjects to a new island to start the kingdom building process all over again where it can get significantly harder. However, that takes time to achieve, and there are a lot of lands to explore.
Every night, The Greed will attempt to break through your defenses and cause havoc in your kingdom. They’ll come looking for you to steal your coins. If you run out, The Greed will knock off your crown, and that ends the reign of your kingdom’s first playthrough. If you end up losing your crown, the game restarts with a “descendant” of the previous monarch, and you’ll notice the kingdom is significantly cut down due to years of a lack of leadership. Ultimately, as the leader of this new kingdom, you have to find a way to rid the land of The Greed for good.
The gameplay isn’t challenging by any means. Recruit people, those people help you get resources and money, use the resources and funds to expand and find new areas, and so on. There’s a ton to discover, and I’m not just talking about in the main game mode. There are other modes (and more to come) with specific challenges like destroying a certain amount of greed portals, surviving for up to 40 days, and travel to 10 different lands. There are also various settings you can play in, which are pretty much reskins of the base game. You can play in a feudal Japan or a kind of post-apocalyptic setting.
There’s absolutely so much to explore that even after many hours, I feel like I’ve only scraped the surface of what it has to offer. There’s also a co-op split-screen mode if you want to rule with a friend, but it doesn’t exactly work well on the phone. You might be better off playing that mode on a tablet.
While I do appreciate how the game looks from a minimalistic standpoint, I wish that wasn’t fully applied to the game’s UI. After a while, I did lose track of how many workers I had or, if any, died at night from The Greed. I only noticed because there was a single tree I was waiting to be cut down for two days, but after walking around, I saw most of my workers building a new boat. A number indicator of how many workers, hunters, and unused villagers I have would have been helpful. There’s a ghost of your ancestor who only appears at the beginning of the game that explains the basics, but they could have been more of that kind of helper throughout my playthroughs.
Also, there should have been more of an explanation about specific landmarks that I could invest in as well. For example, there was a waterfall that I gave three coins to for some reason. All of a sudden, a huge deer hopped out that wanted three diamonds from me, which are tough to find. Another instance was when I first came across the boat and figured out that’s what I needed to progress. I hopped in, only to realize I was alone traveling by myself. It would have been nice to know that I couldn’t exactly go back to my original land and that I could have taken my subjects with me on the boat by ringing a bell. I ended up on a new island, all alone with one newly recruited subject and two coins. I then ended up being overrun by The Greed that same night because I had no one to help set up a camp. Many of these annoyances could have been fixed with the ghost of my ancestor acting as a guide like Navi was to Link in Ocarina of Time.
Kingdom Two Crowns makes for one of the more intriguing strategy games that I’ve played in some time. The mobile port looks and runs great, but suffers from a UI that doesn’t give the player enough unit information. Gameplay has a low barrier of entry and doesn’t require much to pick up and start playing. However, it’s trial and error experiences could have been retained even with a little bit of explanation to save the player an early death. Oddly enough, this is one of the more relaxing gaming experiences that I’ve had, which is why I find myself returning to my kingdom time and time again.
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