It’s a desktop, it’s an RPG, it’s Kingsway

The throwback thrills of mashing monsters and arranging a cluttered Windows 95 desktop combine in Kingsway [official site], which launched yesterday. Andrew Morrish’s roguelikelike action-RPG is presented as an operating system where all aspects of dungeoneering are spread across the desktop and so many windows. Popups, shortcuts, folders, and progress bars all show little bits of the game, so you’ll likely want to dust off those window-arranging skills as well as your numbercrunching visor. I don’t know if the dungeon-crawling is any good but the presentation is cute.

What is Kingsway actually? A top-down action-RPG with monsters to mash, loot to grab, traps to dodge, quests to complete, and levels to gain. Scattering the UI across desktop windows isn’t just a cute idea, mind, as these do also present challenges. Projectiles can appear as popups you’ll need to find and click on to avoid, multiple enemies mean multiple combat windows to manage, and windows piling up threaten to obscure important information.

Oh, and of course the world is procedurally generated and it has permadeath.

Kingsway costs £6.99/9,99€/$9.99 on Steam and GOG. It’s published by Adult Swim Games.

I’m reminded a touch of the Indiana Jones and Star Wars ‘Desktop Adventures’ that LucasArts released in the ’90s, short procedurally-generated top-down action games which sat in a little window on your desktop. I think they were supposed to be in similar vein to time-wasting games like Solitaire and Minesweeper, little things to play during idle moments on these newfangled ‘personal computers’ that were suddenly filling our homes and offices. They weren’t good but the idea of short, casual, procedurally-generated adventures does feel curiously in tune with modern trends.


  1. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Boo, it’s not locked to Win 95 4:3 monitors.

    But it’s an interesting idea. Maybe a little gimmicky, but what isn’t these days?

  2. Wulfram says:

    But… why?

    • Heavenfall says:

      Because we have to make the youngsters understand. This is our legacy.

  3. Harlander says:

    For a second there I thought I was looking at a screenshot from Castle of the Winds.

    • kalzekdor says:

      Ha, Castle of the Winds was awesome. Used to play that way back on Windows 3.1, one of the first PC games I remember playing. The creator released the whole thing for free a long time ago (originally only the first half was shareware), though it’s a 16-bit application, so it won’t run natively on 64-bit Windows. I have found that Win 3.1 runs surprisingly well under Dosbox, though, after some tinkering with drivers, anyway.

      • Harlander says:

        But do you remember Mission Thunderbolt?

        (Actually, I’m cheating – I didn’t stumble over that until long past the Windows 95 days)

        • kalzekdor says:

          No, haven’t come across that before. Looks interesting, though, I will check it out.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Hah, same thing here.

  4. Halk says:

    It’s an odd mixture of Windows, Amiga OS, and Atari OS.

  5. TotallyUseless says:

    Hi all, can I run it?

    My PC is running windows 95 with 133mhz and 16 mb ram with 1g of hdd. How many diskettes are there too to install the game?

    • KDR_11k says:

      Diskettes? Those computer specs are from the era when we picked how much we wanted to install from the CD, whether we really needed all those cutscenes or could stick to the 30MB base install.

      Though I’d recommend Total Annihilation for that PC. Great game.

    • satsui says:

      I only have 8 MB RAM and 500 MB HDD space. Can confirm this game works great.

  6. Chaz says:

    And there’s permadeath, because of course there is, due to the fact we haven’t yet developed the technology to save games. If this rate of innovation continues, we’ll soon be getting 3 lives and 1up’s after scoring 10,000 points.

    Seriously though, I often find that permadeath is just a cheap fix for games that lack any meaningful long term gameplay.

    • wcq says:

      Pfft, get a load of this casual.

      Next he’ll probably tell us he plays video games for fun!

    • KDR_11k says:

      It’s for games that aren’t long enough to warrant a single continuous playthrough and are meant to be played many times. Yes, like arcade games. If you play through those with infinite continues or even just savestates you’ll finish them in an evening and probably miss a lot of the potential in the game because each section is meant to change as you get better.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        But… arcade games were designed that way to fleece people for quarters. Even the Megaman games gave you save states.

    • Harlander says:

      Permadeath doesn’t mean you can’t save, though?

      • Chaz says:

        True, but when you die, does it not delete your saves? Otherwise it wouldn’t be permadeath would it?

  7. Mecha_Rocky says:

    Ahhhh… it’s true and hurts to admit, but the Indy/Yoda Desktop Adventures really weren’t that good. But they were so cute! And my 90s self was amazed of the pseudo-procedural nature of the games. I’d play it so much, I knew the story cues that gave away if it was going to be a big, sprawling epic or a quick one-off.

    • kud13 says:

      I never played the Indy one, but Yoda Stories still lives on my PC. It’s a fun thing to revisit once in a while (after I forgot how the stories go, usually).

  8. Dr. Why says:

    Played it, beaten it.

  9. OldPalsTogether says:

    The only old school games this reminded me of were Infocom Adventures and bloody Ultima where you had a pop out inventory window. Ball ache city.

  10. Andy_Panthro says:

    Mordor: The Depths of Dejenol was similar to this (only with a “first person” view of sorts rather than this top-down stuff.

    • kalzekdor says:

      Ha, another great from days of yore. That also lives on my Win 3.1 emulated box, which I set up primarily for 3 games: Castle of the Winds, Mordor, and Stars!. Mordor introduced me to MUDs even before my folks relented and got us some tasty 28k dial-up internets. My younger brother and I both had our own set of adventurers, and we’d compete to see who could delve further, haggle with each other over loot, and occasionally mount up a rescue expedition to save lost/wounded/dead parties. My adventurers ended up being much stronger than his, so I did what any good big brother would do, loaned out one of them as a bodyguard… for a price.

      There was a sequel, Demise, that had 3D graphics and actual multiplayer, but I never really got into it. Don’t remember why, though.

  11. Phasma Felis says:

    Anybody remember the PC version of Metal Marines? I think it started on the Genesis or something, this wonky little RTS where you and your opponent were on non-connected islands, and you built your bases and lobbed ballistic missiles and mech-toting shuttles at each other.

    Except, in the Windows version, the two islands were in separate windows, and missiles arced out of the window and across the desktop to strike the enemy island.

    I mean, it’s not much in the grand scheme, but gosh was it cool at the time.

    • Railway Rifle says:

      It sounds like, or at least similar to, Netstorm, the RTS where you were on floating islands building bridges to each other. I think I was more interested in that game’s world than the actual game.