Earth, Wind & Firepower: Kingdom Elemental Demo

Sexy Ogre

Chronic Logic dropped me a line, mentioning they’d just released a major update for their strategy game, Kingdom Elemental: Tactics, improving the interface, revamping skirmish, new challenge levels, user-created stuff and lots of exciting sounding improvements. Or rather, they would be, if we knew anything about the game, but we’ve never played it. There’s only two ways to solve that. One: find a player, excise their brain with scalpels and merge it with your own with brain-glue. Two: play the demo. I went with the latter. It’s basically a real-time-with-pause skirmish game, with a tiny touch of tower-defence in its design. Oh, I’ll explain it a bit better below…

Levels are set in small linear arenas. You have a limited amount of gold to buy your heroes from a selection of 10 – 4 in the demo. So, depending on what you’re facing, you may alter your build, leaning one way or the other. You fight. You win. The Tower Defence element comes in because you get waves of enemies coming in, meaning that you’re trying to build a slightly persistent defence which interacts. Well… I did say a splash. The progression between the levels – as in, groups of waves – is where it gets more interesting. You get unlock points which you can either use to make a new character type accessible or unlock an ability in a pre-existing character. So, you can choose to gain access to Necromancers, or make your already-existing archers more vicious by giving them a fire-arrow special ability, or boosting their attack rate or whatever. Since their cost remains the same no matter how upgraded they are, there’s an obvious tactical situation to weigh up.

It’s quite fun, from the little of the easy campaign the demo lets you play. The one thing to mention is that it does have a slightly tongue in cheek attitude to everything. Think Overlord. As in, the garrulous tutorial voice-over being openly sarcastic and the IT WAS A TIME OF WAR wizard voice breaking into complaints about the conventions of the genre and all that. And it’s… well, half the time it’s fun and the other half the time it’s painful. Voice-over and comedy are both tricky things to pull off, even if you have an enormous budget, and it regularly stumbles. It’s worse in the demo than the full game, I suspect, because the action is interrupted by the former narrator telling you that he wouldn’t be interupting to annoy you if this was the full version. What is this? Spotify?

The actual videos on their site which give a better impression of what the game is actually like can’t be embedded, but here’s some early gameplay footage that’s on Youtube…

You can download the demo from here. The full version costs $19.95 from here.


  1. Alec Meer says:

    Max Payne killed the Kingdom, clearly.

  2. Dreamhacker says:

    Kingdom Elemental? Is that even grammatically correct?

  3. The Hammer says:

    I liked how the voiceover guy in the cinematic trailer (which wasn’t that cinematic…) sounded like Christopher Lee. There seems to be a mixture of genuine and groan-worthy humour in here. Certain not to buy it, but it’d be nice to see this do well.

  4. Tei says:

    OH!.. Is breaking the 4th wall!. Is made by the guys of Pontifex, so sould be awesome :-)
    I have played a bit, is hard to me, as I am not strong in strategy. The “tank/dps/healer” trio seems to work, but other than that, I am hopeless. The necro reminds me the guy from lfg comic :-)

  5. Acosta says:

    Looks interesting, I may give the demo a try. But seeing this between the Max Payne post and the two giganews above makes me think in kitties being hit by a 18 Wheeler.

  6. Severian says:

    Tried the Demo out – some clever concepts at work and I actually like the tight, tactical gameplay. My initial thoughts are:

    1. I wish the environments themselves were more varied/interactive. Movement, as in tactical maneuvering, is overly simplistic. For example, I didn’t see elevation or obstacles being used at all.

    2. Each character has 3 unlocks x 10 characters = 30 unlocks total. Maybe not enough to keep the longevity going. I don’t know.

    3. I wish there was more tongue-in-cheek. The gameplay videos actually made me laugh out loud. The Demo did not.

    4. Using the spacebar to pause and give orders gave me Baldur’s Gate withdrawal. Man, I wish more games used this.

    Take these comments with a serious grain of salt as I only played the Demo and not even all of that.

  7. Rhygadon says:

    The demo ends oddly early. I suppose the intent was to leave you just shy of being able to fully upgrade all four available character types. You do get a sense of how the basic combat works, but it’s hard to see what will provide the long-term tactical interest. There’s no (functional) terrain, the battlefield is just a rectangle with enemies entering from one end, and the powers are all single-target (except for one PBAoE heal). So how does it not just devolve into a “focus fire on one target, taunt/mez the others” clickathon?
    Maybe there’s real terrain later on. Maybe there are cone attacks, or auras, or something else that would make position (beyond “tank group / back group”) relevant. Maybe the enemies (about whom you get no information) do something more than chase whoever’s done the most damage to them recently. But if so, it’s odd that the demo doesn’t even try to drop hints about it. And it’s not encouraging that, as Tei mentioned, the demo units are a direct implementation of the MMO holy triad.
    I have a soft spot for this niche (small-scale tactics playable in short sessions), but I can’t imagine dropping $20 without having a better idea of what else is in store.
    [Addendum: just found a list of the full set of characters on the website. They add auras, roots, damage/defense buffs, a few AoEs. Certainly more variety, could be fun on first exploration, but it’s hard to escape the impression that it’s still basically just the MMO-standard combat paradigm.]

  8. Dylan says:

    I’ve played all the way through it a few times. Great game!

  9. Serondal says:

    Is this that game stardock was publishing that is like Masters of Magic?

  10. ElBAndito says:

    Nope – this isnt like the Masters of Magic game from stardock – dont think that is out this year.

  11. James says:

    @Tei: Yes, the 4th wall was broke during the tutorial. And it is not made by the Pontifex guys, but instead published by them.

    This game has the humour of its creator embeded throughout. It is exactly what playing a jRPG is like, without the tedium.

  12. getter77 says:

    Hmm…has this changelog went live anywhere on their website yet? All I’ve come across in their forums or otherwise is a patch update from Fall’ish of 2008…

    Game looks good though, probably something I’d enjoy.