INSOMNIA

Kingdoms and Castles (2017, PC)

By Ceabras & Teromous / December 3, 2017


Good, but barebones and short
A pretty good entry in the city-builder genre. However, don't get this game if you are expecting 40+ hours of enjoyment from it. It took us about six hours (less ~30 minutes to learn the basics) to fill an entire map with structures, build at least one of every structure in the game, and fend off dozens of attacks from dragons and vikings. At this point, we have seen everything that the current version has to offer and we have no desire to keep playing. We think that this is acceptable value for the price, but you might disagree. The game overall is fun to play, looks far too cute to pass by, and it does have a lot of replay value with its random map seeds.

Issues
- The number of enemies is minimal: Dragon: Easy to defeat if you have a few ballista towers. Viking general: Nothing special, he just leads the army. Viking soldiers: Nothing special, they just follow the general. Ships: They carry vikings and have catapults which can attack your walls. Ogres: They have the ability to destroy walls (and are the most fun to fight).
- The AI isn't very smart. For example, the vikings will travel by ship to get to your kingdom, get out of the ship, walk on the land for a bit, then jump into the water and swim alongside your stone wall (which they can't attack)... rather than simply using the ship to attack the stone wall.
- Aside from the ship catapults (which are used mostly at point-blank with your walls) the enemy doesn't have any ranged attack, making battles very easy to handle if you have archer and ballista towers.
- The game doesn't feel finished. For example you can build a Great Hall but it doesn't do anything other than upgrade the size of your keep. Having an "upgraded" keep doesn't appear to do anything either.
- There is no management of citizens or their jobs. You can turn off buildings to force them to find something else to do but there's no way to set specific jobs as higher priority. There's no way to tell a building to maintain a certain stock of items. Instead they will continually produce until you either turn them off or the resources run dry. There's also no way to quickly see the number of buildings you have of a specific type.
- Wall height can be co-dependent when doing height checks. That means you can have two ridiculously high walls standing next to each other with no other means of support because each wall piece will satisfy the other's height check. You simply build one wall segment up until it can't be built any higher, then build the one next to it, and keep going back and forth until you've built a monolithic two-piece tower with ballistae on top that can hit every single thing on the entire map.
- The game will occasionally crash to desktop with some random pop-up errors from the game engine.
- There are some odd interactions with the environment. For example, your people can't walk through walls, but if there is a fire they will walk right through a wall to get water from the ocean to put it out. Occasionally there will also be things that they can't reach. By deleting and rebuilding the object in its original place they can somehow then reach it.

The raiders show themselves

What We Would Like to See
1. Bigger maps. An option to adjust the map size, including maps much larger than the default one.
2. Better citizen management. This could be an oversight on our part (then again, the fact that we could not figure this out after six hours indicates that the system, if it exists at all, is neither intuitive nor obvious), but we could not get citizens to occupy specific buildings with any consistency. This issue poses problems when your kingdom gets attacked, because your defensive structures sit idle if no citizens are operating them. Even so, rebuilding after an attack was never an issue. We think that any increases in the difficulty or frequency of attacks must come with similar improvements in your ability to defend the kingdom. Suggested solutions: Citizens do not want to die, and don't want their homes destroyed. When an attack is detected, citizens automatically stop their current activity and move to the nearest tower or barracks. Alternatively, add an option to give each structure "priority" (e.g., high, medium, low). High priority structures would then attract workers before other structures.
3. Steam Workshop. Mod support via Steam Workshop adds a lot of value for us. We would be much more likely to continue playing if there was an active modding community working to make new buildings and map options.

Recommendation
We would recommend holding off and waiting a year or so for more to be added to this game. After looking at the update progress, it is clear that the game isn't complete yet. Update v106 added wooden walls, stone roads, a statue, and three aqueduct buildings for the irrigation system. While the game is fun to play, it feels incomplete, like an Early Access game, even though it isn't one.

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