Little Kingdom VVG Indie Verse #XBLIG Review
VVG Indie Verse Review
By: Mr. Deeke
Today on VVGtv’s Indie Verse Reviews we’ll be taking a look at an original Xbox Live Indie title called Little Kingdom from Andreil Games. This game falls under the strategy and simulation genre, and is very much akin to Andreil’s Pioneerz XBLIG release in terms of graphics and style, fused with mechanics from another of the studio’s releases called Dark Seal.
Little Kingdom 80 MSP
- Developer – Andreil Games (Laurent Goethals)
- Genre – Strategy & Simulation
- XBL Marketplace URL – Little Kingdom
- Release Date – 4/26/2011
- Try or Buy? – Try Before You Buy
- Price – 80 MSP ($1)
- Rating – 4/5
“Little Kingdom is a simulation game. You’re the leader of a small kingdom aiming to conquer the world. In this peaceful world without war or battle. Strengthen your economy and dominate the world with your influence. Choose your map, choose your teammate, and choose the AI levels! Little Kingdom is playable up to 4 players on the same screen.”
–Xbox Live Marketplace Description
Little Kingdom’s gameplay mechanics may seem confusing and frustrating at first, and the “Instructions” menu doesn’t help too much. Only after playing through a few times will players understand how the game works–in other words, it takes a bit of trial and error to understand the flow and goals of gameplay. It’s highly recommended that new players go through the Tutorial listed at the top after selecting New Game.
Players have the choice in picking their match parameters, and the maps themselves vary from each gameplay mode–there are eight gameplay modes in all, each with their own defined goals. At it’s heart, Little Kingdom is a competitive simulation game set in the age of medieval ages of imperialism.
Gameplay mechanics involve strategically placing different structures that earn (and consequently spend) resources. There are Windmills that produce Food (which is represented by apples), Lumber Yards that produce Timber, and Masonry’s that produce Stones. Each resource is valuable and is used to create Houses and upgrade them to provide more Influence.
Territory is gained by players when they have enough Influence, and areas can be taken from other players if their bordering structures have a higher influence than the other players. Influence is gained from structures like Houses, and the more they’re upgraded, the more Influence the structures add. This constant struggle of fame and recognition provides the basis of the game’s strategic elements.
Players must fight for the lands using their wits instead of swords, carefully planning their moves. Pressing Back during gameplay brings up the Influence rating for every hexagonal piece. Every plot of land is formed in a hexagonal formation, giving the game a unique honey-comb feel to it.
Each plot of land has a certain Influence value, and a player’s territory is highlighted in their color. It’s best to place House structures on plots of land with high Influence ratings, which will add a bonus to the overall Influence. Utilizing this strategy is essential when gameplay is more competitive.
Every structure–Houses, Windmills, and Timber Yards–costs a certain amount of resources, and each price is shown on the menu. Houses can be upgraded twice, the first upgrade costing Timber and the next upgrade requiring Stones. Stones are arguably one of the most important resources, and depending on the map, they are in different areas.
Basically whichever player controls the stones is going to win, as the Stones themselves are required to build tier 3 upgrades of the Houses, which are Castles that add a staggering amount to a player’s Influence rating. Gameplay is a never-ending battle for resources and land, and players can also destroy any previously built structure, even if it’s an upgraded House.
Since there are no weapons or items in this title, I’ll use this section to focus on the mutliple Resources used in this game. There are three main resources in this game, each of which are important to build various structures and to maintain a successful kingdom: Food, Timber, and Stones.
- Food – This vital component is used to build the base form of the House structures, as well as the Timber Yards that are required to produce Wood.
- Timber – Lumber Yards produce wood for every tree that is in a player’s territory. Timber is another required component that is used in the second level upgrade of the House and to build Windmills, which produce Food for the kingdom.
- Stones – Required for the top tier upgrade–the Castle–that adds quite a bit of Influence to a player’s kingdom, and is immensely helpful when conquering nearby territory. Stacking up Castles in a player’s kingdom is highly advised, especially when the Castles themselves are on a plot of land with a high Influence bonus.
There is also an incredibly helpful feature that allows players to convert one resource into another. By pressing X on any plot of land, players can adjust the conversion rate. The conversion values are listed below:
10 Food = 1 Timber
10 Timber = 1 Stone
These values go up to maximum ratio of 1000 Foot : 100 Timber and 1000 Timber : 100 Stone, allowing players to convert whatever resources that are most prevalent and in surplus to much-needed resources. This tool also allows gamers to strategically build up their resource pool and make for an efficiently expanding kingdom.
III. Unique Features
In this Xbox Live Indie Game there are a few unique features that catch my eye and make Little Kingdom a noteworthy release on the marketplace. These elements include the original gameplay mechanics, the expansive map editor that allows for customized gameplay, the multiple game modes to choose from, and the various NPC difficulties that dynamically affect gameplay.
Little Kingdom displays a few unique and original gameplay mechanics that aren’t found in any other XBLIG release, most notably the strategic medieval simulator elements that are akin to PC titles. While the game isn’t as expansive as retail games, it offers a taste of medieval imperialism with an original gameplay mechanic that puts emphasis on strategy and planning rather than reflex skills.
The in-game map editor function is also a unique feature as it adds a new level of customization. Players can create their own custom maps, and with these maps comes the gameplay parameters as gameplay is heavily determined by the world map. Players can design an entire ring of islands or create their very own worlds with this easy-to-use tool.
With eight different default game modes to choose from gamers can enjoy the varied levels of competition in this game. Whether you’re playing 2v2v2 or 1v4v1, the game retains its original gameplay elements, only changing alliances and feuds.
There are three NPC difficulties–Easy, Normal, and Hard–each with their own level of competitive edge. NPC players on Hard are quite a challenge, whereas the Easy NPC’s provide decent practice, and the Normal ones are great for somewhat of a challenge. All in all players can adjust each NPC’s difficulty–whether or not they’re on that particular character’s team.
Enjoyable Style and Design. This title reflects Andreil Games’ affinity for medieval-style content, as we’ve seen the same design and style within a few other releases from the studio like Pioneer and it’s sequel, Pioneerz. This style captures a sense of imperialism and conquest in the time of castles and kingdoms, enriched with a musical score that transports gamers right to the middle ages.
Original and Unique Gameplay Mechanics. From the unique hexagonal game boards to the original medieval territorial strategy simulation aspects, Little Kingdom possesses gameplay mechanics that are unlike most XBLIG titles out there. The game brings a sense of ruling over an entire kingdom, establishing an ever-growing and expanding monarchy to reign over all the lands. Managing resources and strategically planning your moves is quite important in this enjoyable Xbox Indie release.
Enjoyable for Games of All Ages. Since this game doesn’t contain any fighting or violence, it’s wholly acceptable for gamers of all ages to enjoy. It provides both an intellectually satisfying game of strategy that’s founded upon math, and kids could use it as a learning tool to not only recognize number values but to learn while playing a game.
Four-Player Local Play on the Same Screen. This might sound awkward at first, yet on a huge HD screen the game is like playing a board game with friends. The map (or game board) is always presented and each player is on the screen so there’s no need for split-screen play. Gamers can see each other and plan their moves accordingly.
New Players Can Be Easily Confused. Getting used to this game–assuming you’ve skipped the Tutorial section–can be a bit confusing and frustrating as there’s really no clear explanation. Half of the fun is in the discovery, though, and gamers may not have the patience to discover how to play outside of the Tutorial, and they may move on to another game instead.
Overall, Little Kingdom was a satisfying and original gaming experience with many enjoyable aspects and unique gameplay elements. These features are mirrored in Andreil Games’ signature style and flair, making this game sort of a culmination of other titles. The independent XNA studio seamless integrates strategy and simulation in a contest not of skills but of wits. With an in-game map editor, players can create their very own game boards in their own design. Compete with NPC bots or up to four players on the same screen in this game of conquest and imperialistic reign.
Video courtesy of aaronthesplazers’s YouTube Channel.
For more information on Little Kingdom and the independent XNA studio that developed it, Andreil Games, please visit their official Facebook Page.
Other Xbox Live Indie Game releases from this independent studio: