A kingdom building game with a twist.
Set in a land where ancient dragons brood in the darkness, and humans seek once more to reclaim the earth, it's unlikely Kingdom & Dragons will be picking up any awards for original storytelling when we reach the end of 2013, but it does offer up something rather tantalizing. You'll fear yet another game to add to the toppling pile of empire-building games, but there are hints of Mika Mobile's outstanding Battleheart in here too. That's enough to pique our interest at least.
These two components of the game - combat and kingdom expansion - are more or less equally prominent. You begin the game by establishing a castle, then you gradually add new buildings such as farms and goldmines, each of which accumulates game currency for you over time. Between these moments, you can embark with your melee warrior on a sprawling campaign against the ogrish creatures who threaten the land.
Once you've entered a mission, combat's a simplistic affair. You move your warrior around the scrolling arena with a virtual joystick, then hack away at the assortment of enemies that arrive in waves, before taking on a nominally harder boss. Beyond your basic attack, you can unlock and slot in various skills that might provide a knockback to your attack, for example, or offer up a temporary shield for your hero.
It's incredible basic, button-mashing stuff though, and the extraordinarily repetitive yelping sounds of your hero will have you reaching for the mute switch in a flash. The controls are rather stiff and unforgiving too, requiring constant positional readjustment to ensure contact with the enemy. There are other RPG staple characters to be unlocked if you want to try a different flavor of combat, but you'll need to head to the in-app purchase store to acquire the gems needed to unlock them.
Other items are available for real-world cash too. You can upgrade or buy new equipment using gold, and of course the best equipment costs the most money - and you'll only earn so much through gameplay. Likewise, you can only participate in a certain amount of concurrent combat content before you lose all of your stamina, forcing either a clock-watching wait, or a visit to the in-app purchase store.
All in all, Kingdom & Dragons feels like a collection of fun game elements, each of which is in need of much better execution. The combat's fun, for a time, but soon becomes rather dull and repetitive. The game has some very cool progression systems in terms of equipment and character powers, and it will keep you engaged - but again only for a time. Combine all this with an always-on connection requirement that chugs away rather sluggishly, and we're unfortunately left with a game of great potential - one that promises a lot more than it's really capable of delivering in the long term.
What's Hot:A beautifully presented game, with deep and satisfying upgrade systems. It's really fun to play for a short time.
What's Not:The combat is very simplistic and repetitive, and the audio work becomes annoying - fast. Sluggish servers make resource acquisition very frustrating.