Should we call this Kingdom Lilliput?
Back in 2008, NinjaBee released a game for XBLA that actually used the players avatar, which in itself was a new feature. The game was A Kingdom For Keflings and it could be best described as a quaint, casual, resource gathering, town building sim, in which the player actually played a role, rather than being the faceless voice in the sky. I spent many hours playing and enjoying this game, and now it has become available on the PC. Will it be able to hold the attention of PC gamers? Or have the Keflings outstayed their welcome?
The Keflings, despite all of their cuteness and obedience, are not the brightest bunch of medieval peasants. Thing is, they need a town and they are willing to offer unwavering loyalty to anyone who would be kind enough to guide them in this task. Thus, the player enters the Kefling world, taking the form of one of the eight available giants. As the only being in the world that seems to be able to think for themselves, with perhaps the exception of the Mayor, who seems a little too savvy for their own good, it is down to the player to guide these little peopleÂ in the construction of their very own kingdom.
Whilst not especially clever or forward thinking, the Keflings make up for this by being damn good workers. As the giant, the player can approach any of these little guys and simply pick them up. Dropping them near some trees, some rock, a sheep or even a cluster of crystals, will give the kefling a purpose. They will adorn themselves with the appropriate hat of the given task and begin work. This is how resources are gathered, and many of them will be needed before the game ends. The player can help out if they choose, providing that they have already found the right tools.
So, to create the required buildings, resources are needed. These resources, in there simplest form, will need to be dropped off at a workshop. Again, the Keflings will happily get down to the job. Just drop one near a pile of resources and then, once the picj some up, drop them again at the workshop. They will then get the idea and continue by themselves. If Keflings are running a bit short, the player can instruct the Kefling responsible for gathering the resources to just drop them off at the workshop instead. Or the player can do it themselves.
A Kingdom For Keflings works through a tech tree of sorts, with new buildings being unlocked as certain requirements are met. The buildings are all modular and come as a blueprint. The player must then instruct the appropriate workshop to create the different parts of the building, which then must be carried and placed in the correct pattern. Should the player make a mistake, these modular parts can be broken down into their original resources without loss.
As the game continues, the buildings and their requirements become more complex. No longer will logs suffice. The logs must be taken and turned into planks before they can be used. The same applies to rock being turned into stone slabs, wool being made into cloth and crystals being processed into gems. This continues further with bricks, carved wood and magical liquids, amongst others, being required for building.
The buildings themselves, starting with only three modular parts, will soon be requiring twenty or more different rooms. It is at this point that players may become slightly overwhelmed with the magnitude of the task ahead of them. Hopefully, by this point the Keflings will have worked their charm and the player will be physically unable to stay away. As a casual game, Keflings is best taken in small bites, although the first sitting will likely be a lengthy one, simply because of the games ability to get the player involved and actually caring about the little people.
The game looks great on the PC, an improvement over the Xbox360 version, with things seeming a lot smoother. With a bright, colourful setting and comical characters, it is easy to lose oneself in this world. The whimsical soundtrack is annoying after a while, but that won’t stop yourself from humming it when you are away from the game. Like a lot of other famous game themes, it becomes embedded in the consciousness, and refuses to leave.
As a casual game, one would expect Keflings to be a reasonably relaxed experience. The game is, however, so laid back that it is on the floor. There is no threat anywhere in the game, and there is no way to fail. Your only adversary is your attention span. Whilst this is not a problem as such, some players may find the lack of threat or urgency slightly dull.
An online multiplayer mode is available in the form of up to four player co-op. Players are able to team up with friends to create the perfect Kefling paradise. Please beware, however, as there are rather unscrupulous players out there that take great pleasure in ruining your accomplishments.
A World of Keflings has already been announced to be coming to XBLA later this year, and I cannot wait to see what the little guys will be up to this time. A kingdom for Keflings is a wonderful, relaxing game that has made a great transition to the PC platform. You see, 2008 passed and I left the Keflings to enjoy the fruits of their labour. I moved onto, I won’t say better things, but different things. Then, the Keflings found me again, on my PC and it was as if I had never left. They needed my help again, and I was not going to say no. Visit their world and become as enamoured with these pint size peasants as I have.
A Kingdom For Keflings is available here and will cost only $9.99 for a limited time before returning to its usual price.