Pretty city builder Kingdoms and Castles is out now

Kingdoms and Castles

I’m a sucker for oldie-worldie town builders. Banished, Anno 1401The Settlers – I’ll take them all. So Kingdoms and Castles [official site], which released this week, has got my tower watchman interested.

You build a town and then defend your citizens from Viking raids, dragon attacks, and harsh winters. Simple enough. What appeals to me, really, is the low-poly art style, and the way the tiny villagers bob up and down as they scamper around. It’s also got changing seasons and a “stylised procedural cloud system” – basically, the clouds are pretty.

There’s all the things you’d expect from this type of game. You send some villagers to chop wood, some to mine stone, some to build churches and town squares for festivals, and so on and so on. It’s the constant precarious juggling of resources that I like about these types of games, which inevitably can only last so long until oh shit half of my village is on fire and the other half are dying from the plague.

From the looks of it, Kingdoms and Castles will sit at the simpler end of the genre, but that’s reflected in it’s price tag: £6.99/9,99€/$9.99 on both Steam and GOG. Early Steam reviews are very positive, which is a good start.

Fun fact: it’s the first game funded through crowdfunding platform Fig to actually be released. Which could be an answer to a very niche pub quiz some day.

17 Comments

  1. Sleazy Ninja says:

    I admit it looks great, but it’s also waaaay to easy. Found that I could build a large city without too many problems in a pretty short time. So it’s nice and relaxing, but I miss the depth and difficulty of Banished.

  2. wombat191 says:

    *grumbles* i went through the bad graphics of the 70s and 80’s. im in the future.. enough with this !!!

    that said.. looks quirky

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      I get that complaint with most “8-bit” or “pixel art” games, but this looks nothing like old games. It’s just a low-poly style.

      It’s not even comparable to early 3D, which mostly just looked like a pile of vomit.

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      MajorLag says:

      Indeed. How are we supposed to justify our purchases of $500+ video cards when developers keep putting gameplay ahead of graphics?

    • fish99 says:

      If you don’t have the money to make your game look like Witcher 3, you’re gonna have to go with a simple art style to get the most out of your art budget and still have the game look appealing. And to me the game does look appealing.

  3. mitthrawnuruodo says:

    I have tried it. It is nothing like a city builder.

    Its pretty much Age of Empires with blocky graphics, without the interesting stories, characters, military aspects and historical basis.

    Waste of two hours. Calling this a city builder is an insult to the genre.

    • UncleLou says:

      But it is not like Age of Empires at all, and much more like a streamlined Stronghold/ old Impressions Games titles.

      So, very much a city-builder in my book.

    • PixelsAtDawn says:

      It’s much *much* more like The Settlers than AoE. Which is fine with me because I love The Settlers.

      Definitely room for them to expand the depth going forward though.

  4. poliovaccine says:

    The clouds *are* pretty. From the preceding comments, I have to wonder how much time they spent on designing the clouds.

  5. toshiro says:

    I don’t like the clouds, but you can turn them off! The game is simple, but quite lovely. You have a lot of freedom in how you want to build your city and I found it meditative to build impressive looking castles more for the sake of it than any actual gameplay reason. I saw a comment that it lacks the “interesting stories” from age of empire, I beg to differ. Those stories were adolescent at best. This on the other hand give your mind complete freedom to creates whichever story you fancy. It is a simple game, but it doesn’t try to be anything else and those that call it out in it being simple is just a little bit silly I daresay!

    • upupup says:

      I’m enjoying it. Simple and effective game.

      EDIT: Somehow I replied to you without meaning to?

  6. racccoon says:

    This is a great game. I love it, It works very well, apart one ididdy bitty thing, the bloody fonts are way too small, that’s it, fix that! then, the games absolutely bloody brilliant!

    • hoho0482 says:

      Hmm. I’m on 2560×1080 and find the text boxes huge and annoying for taking up so much screen space… Something is afoot. Or you need a new prescription.

  7. Hyena Grin says:

    Really enjoy this! Its borrowings from Banished are pretty obvious, but it’s different enough to stand on its own. It’s definitely simpler than Banished, but the inclusion of combat and defenses nicely breaks up what might become a little monotonous compared to Banished’s emphasis on micromanagement.

    The economy/population side balances a little too neatly because of fewer moving parts and less input from random events, making the economy side a bit easy. If it weren’t for the need/desire to constantly grow and improve your fortifications (and rebuild after attacks) the game would get old fast, and beg the question ‘why not just play Banished?’

    I’d like to see bigger maps, and I’d like to see some gradient in the punishment for ‘successful raids’ by vikings. It bugs me a little that even if a single viking raiding party lights a single building on fire (even if you put it out before it is destroyed), it was considered an unsuccessful defense, and you suffer the happiness consequences and halted immigration.

    The only way to prevent that from happening is to encircle literally everything in some form of fortification (and the attacks get strong enough that it’s unrealistic to have strong enough fortifications around your entire city to prevent them from doing at least a little damage).

    It’d be nice if a) the people only get upset if a building is actually destroyed, and b) the penalties scale with what kinds of buildings are destroyed, and how many. I should be able to have farms outside the city that can be freely burned without it causing a great deal of unhappiness, for example. Why should the peasants care about the fields? They should care about my food stocks, and if the damage disrupts food production enough that people start starving, well, that’s its own problem.

    Houses being burned down should be a big deal. Major town structures should be a big deal. Industry shouldn’t be that big a deal (except maybe stockpiles), and food buildings shouldn’t matter (because there are other more appropriate consequences for losing fields), with the exception of granaries, which should be a big hit.

  8. Hidoshi says:

    If I read your review only, then I should buy it. Though by reading the comments here I’m not sure anymore.. I’ll check it out on Steam today.

    On a sidenote: I got advertisement for Endless Space 2 here on RPS and when I click on it I’m referred to a Twitter account (link to twitter.com )(HTML linking is difficult for me ok..). Is that some inside joke I’m missing or did somebody mess up?

  9. Drib says:

    I found it kinda dull. You putter around building houses and making sure every tenth one or whatever is a library. Then Vikings come and ruin all your stuff and everyone is miserable and dies.

  10. dylan says:

    My wife grew up playing Age of Empires II but disliked all the fighting and just wanted to build pretty towns. I bought her this a couple days ago and it’s the most absorbed I’ve seen her get in a videogame since our coup for the Byzantine throne in Crusader Kings 2.

    So, I call it a success even if it looks like a phone game to me.