Publisher Raw Fury and developers Licorice and Noiko have brought their award-winning Kingdom series to Switch with Kingdom: New Lands, available for download on Thursday, September 14. The Kingdom games don’t offer tutorials and are intended to be played without guides, and for this reason, we avoided guides while playing for this review. We want to figure this game out for ourselves, and since we want our readers to do the same, we’ll avoid talking about specific gameplay elements in this review. Instead, we’ll focus on basic gameplay, sound/visuals, and our overall experience.
Kingdom: New Lands takes you back to the days of peasants, royals, and knights, with you playing as a king or queen on horseback building a new kingdom on a 2-D strip of land. The catch? Your available actions are limited to three things: you can ride your horse along the strip of land, pick up coins when they appear, and spend your coins in various ways. So how are you supposed to build your kingdom when all you can do is move around and use money? Well, that’s up to you to figure out, and this challenge is part of the game’s charm.
Gameplay is structured around a day and night cycle. In the daytime, you are safe to roam the land, build your defenses, and expand your kingdom. But at night, deadly enemies approach, and if they breach your defenses and steal your crown, you lose the game and have to begin again. This unforgiving structure is sure to annoy some players. But we didn’t get (too) frustrated with this element of gameplay, and we actually enjoyed starting over, even if it made us a little sad to lose all of our progress. Each time you begin again, your experience is completely new, and this helps keep things fresh—at least for a long while.
SOUND AND VISUALS
Kingdom: New Lands provides an atmospheric soundtrack that highlights the sounds of your environment: the singing of bugs and birds in the trees; the huffing of your horse; the galloping of deer. You’ll also hear many useful indicators; for example, bells chime when a new day begins, and special sounds play when certain goods and services are purchased. These sound effects are simple and pleasant, and they fit with the game’s minimalist feel. On top of it all, you’ll experience a diverse collection of ambient and relaxing tunes, which only enhance your experience.
But perhaps the most charming thing about Kingdom: New Lands is its unique visual style. The game’s graphics are alarmingly simple and highly pixelated, yet they are surprisingly lovely, and they might just be our favorite part of this game. We are stunned that Kingdom: New Lands can perfectly capture the weather, the four seasons, and the two halves of the day with such minimalism and simplicity. We love the variety of screenshots we captured while playing for this review—and we’d love to see a Kingdom calendar! (Wink, wink!)
We’ve concluded that Kingdom: New Lands is a pretty good game, and it gets bonus points for freshness. While it may not keep up with the most popular games on the market, there’s definitely a niche of players who would—and players who already do—love this game and have a blast exploring its depth. But we also know that the Kingdom series isn’t for everyone. If you’re a player who needs a tutorial, likes playing forgiving games, and just wants to play for a quick little session, Kingdom: New Lands is probably not for you. You really need to invest a lot of time in this game to understand it and enjoy everything it has to offer. So if you’re down for that, and you like a good challenge with medieval vibes, this game just might be perfect for you.
Still not convinced? Here’s nearly twelve and a half minutes of fresh gameplay for you to watch (spoilers!):
Nick and Sarah are the ultimate gaming couple. Nick introduced Sarah to the world of Nintendo games. Nick’s favorites are platformers tough as nails, like Super Meat Boy, Celeste, and The End is Nigh. Sarah prefers titles with more exploration and simulation, like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley, and Skyrim. But Nick and Sarah both agree that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games of all time!