Kingdom Two Crowns: Dead Lands
Publisher: Raw Fury
Genre: Role-Playing, Strategy
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 11/12/2018 / Dead Lands DLC: 28/04/2020
A code was provided for review purposes.
Nothing dead about these lands…
There is something special about a game that has been designed and developed by a small group of individuals. No matter the industry, we all know that working as part of a team can come with its challenges, but ultimately, the more team members there are, the greater the pool of resources and potential a project can have.
Jewel in the crown
Thomas van den Berg and Marco Bancale are one such example of true indie development, debunking the myth that a bigger team makes for a better end product. Whilst they may have had the backing of publishers, Raw Fury, to get their game to the masses, the actual creation of their game was done solely by the two of them. Their latest release, Kingdom: Two Crowns, is aptly named: the two crowns could well be symbolic of the pairs status in the industry as Kings – at least where kingdom-building simulators are concerned.
Debuting back in 2015 on Windows, OS and Linux with the release of Kingdom, the two-man team have since ported, enhanced and innovated to present to us Kingdom: Two Crowns. The crowning glory of their back catalogue thus far, it is the amalgamation of hard work, dedication, and a belief in what the game could be. It isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, and the early hours with the game can prove fruitless, but time, patience and a willingness to explore unlocks a game that could provide hours of enjoyment for players.
Watch the throne
At its core, it is best described as a 2D side-scrolling, kingdom-building simulation game. Sitting atop a horse, you move left to right across the land in search of recruits who you can then use to build your kingdom and defend it from the creatures of the night. Payment of your loyal subjects is given in coin, found throughout the landscape, and you drop these on the floor for the subjects to pick up and become your follower. As time passes, you begin to define their roles and set them tasks so that both you and them can thrive in this new land that is being built.
Strikingly beautiful from the very moment the game loads, the visuals are a jewel in the crown of this title. Pixel art and minimalism ensure that the gameplay loop is complimented by the art style rather than hindered by it as a distraction. If not for the impending doom associated with the night creatures that seek to remove your crown and steal your loot, there is many a reason to sit back and enjoy the peace and tranquillity that has been created. The subtle sunsets reflect across the shimmering water and, when coupled with the poignant and purposeful soundtrack, make for an atmosphere worth soaking in.
‘Til Kingdom Come
There is little time to enjoy anything though, really, as you need to get straight to work before nightfall sets in. With little to no guidance, you can be dethroned in a matter of minutes. The tutorial is incredibly brief and is one of few moments where players may be put off playing through. Persevere though, and it will likely be viewed as one of the better indie titles on the Nintendo Switch – that’s assuming you have the time for it.
Time is what you will need to make the most out of this game. It represents an opportunity for pick-up-and-play, yet hours will pass by due to its progressive nature and gratifying gameplay loop. Not only that, but there is so much to uncover and explore beneath the surface. It doesn’t come easy, and nor should it, as there is an appreciation to be found in the struggle. If your crown does fall, the game places you back at the beginning as an heir, and you aim to rebuild the monarch once more. Motivation to continue playing when this happened was a little hard to come by, and I much preferred it when I was still completing my first run.
A King is not complete without its Queen
On the subject of appreciation, the Two Crowns package has since received a sizeable free update in the form of Dead Lands which makes a rather enticing package that little bit more inviting. It accompanies the base game, Kingdom Two Crowns, and the other DLC, Kingdom Shogun. Between the three, there’s all manner of variety and encourages repeat playthroughs and a change of scenery to mix things up.
The Dead Lands DLC brings with it four characters from another famed release, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. It’s an excellent partnership and one that shines a fresh spotlight upon both. The majority of my time was spent with Dead Lands and its creepy, dark atmosphere, but as much fun can be had with either. I also played alone for the most part, however the Two Crowns sequel offers a couch co-op experience which only adds to the games appeal. There is much debate over how well the co-op compliments the game as much of the beauty of Kingdom: Two Crowns stems from the evoked feeling of loneliness, but personally, I think any additional game modes are welcome – personal preference will dictate whether its for you.
Dead Lands: Enter the dark lands of Kingdom. Play as unique monarchs, including the Shardbinder Miriam, with powerful traits from the gothic horror action-RPG Bloodstained. Ride the gigantic beetle steed to lay out traps, the eerie undead mount that summons barriers impeding the progress of the Greed, and from Bloodstained the mythic demon horse “Gamigin” with its powerful charge attack. Building your Kingdom has never been spookier!Nintendo eShop
Unfortunately, all the aforementioned inclusions will still only leave this game classified as one that ‘is not for everyone.’ Strategy games rarely are, however, this one is particularly challenging and oftentimes a little slow to get started. There are moments where the player could lose interest too. For those that are looking for a time sink strategy micro-sim though, there is little better out there and boy does it do it all in style!
Rapid Review Rating
You can purchase Kingdom Two Crowns: Dead Lands from the Nintendo eShop.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.