Game Reviews

Kingdom Conquest II

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Kingdom Conquest II

This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about.

Last year I got all excited about the potential release on Vita of a game called Samurai & Dragons. The game still hasn't come to Europe, but its iOS counterpart Kingdom Conquest certainly has.

I didn't put much time into it in the end, but I've been given another chance to experience its brand of gameplay this week as I review its sequel.

For the next seven days I'll be conquering dominions as I put the game through its paces. Is the action thrilling? How deep is the strategy? And, more importantly, will there be both samurai AND dragons? Let's find out.

First Impressions

After a quick bit of faffing with some obtuse menus to create an account and get started, I'm into the game proper, and immediately I'm struck by how poor the text is. The writing is generic epic schlock, and combined with the lack of voice acting and a seemingly weak translation it's difficult to find much meaning or substance to the proceedings.

From what I can tell, there was a kingdom, and it was in the middle of a war. Then there was this tower, and a guy all dressed in gold killed the monsters in it. Then the war ended.

Within two or three lines of my being told this, the monsters have returned and obliterated everything, so it's up to muggins here to build a keep and set about decking every monster I find.

In the intro you're given a taster of combat. You run through a few levels of a dungeon, locking onto enemies and attacking them, dodging blows, and pulling out the odd special attack.

At the end of this you go toe-to-toe with a giant dragon, which is the dungeon's boss, but since I had all sorts of special armour this was a walk in the park.

Without so much as a moment to breathe, I then went into a world map and was asked to start upgrading my castle with resource-gathering buildings and wait for them to build and produce wood, stone, and iron.

There's also mention of cards to collect in the game, so if Kingdom Conquest II has anything, it looks like it has variety. Whether any of it's any good or not is still to be proven.

As my final act of the first day, I began a dungeon run of my own, and was asked to select a character. I didn't see a samurai with my cursory glance, so I chose a lady ninja, as a ninja is an acceptable substitute for a samurai in most social situations.

Day 3: Includes kitchen sink

When you've played as many freemium games as I have, it's easy to wade into each one assuming that it'll be a simple affair - collect this resource, build this house, wait this period of time. This is absolutely not the case with Kingdom Conquest II.

There's just so much to do and see - a bounty of content waiting to be explored by those prepared to invest time. Which, unfortunately, may not be everyone, as the attention to detail and number of systems in play is almost overwhelming.

None of this is helped by a clunky and slightly undersized menu design. Occasionally you find yourself mashing one menu choice when you wanted another, as the buttons are piddly. Even if you don't, the wait to transition from one menu to another can seem like an eternity, with item-management a particularly slow process.

The rest of the game seems brisk, though. Levels gained from quests steadily stack up, dungeon runs can be over in minutes if you're with a good team, and you don't wait for too long for buildings to go up in your city.

The model of paying to avoid waiting that's used in a lot of freemium games isn't here, either, as the four-player questing portion of the game is an energetic and often tense exercise in hacking and slashing.

You have to work out the bosses' patterns of movement in order to vanquish them, and for each difficulty level or stage there's a significant - but not insurmountable - spike in challenge.

You build stuff, continue your expansion across the map, tweak your character, check out the auctions, buy some items, then head out to smash some skeletons in a dungeon while you wait - there's so much to do that you'll rarely find yourself wanting to quit out.

Day 7: Work loads

I should preface the following paragraph by saying that I'm still really enjoying Kingdom Conquest II, a lot. It's a really solid city-builder, action-RPG dungeon-runner, and card-battler with loads to do and an ocean of depth.

But it's so vast in its scope that it can also feel like work. Have you noticed how I noted that KCII was a card-battler, yet so far made little reference to it in the review? That's because it's the latest new element of the game that cropped up in the past two or three days - another layer to consider on top of the combat, the construction, resources, and strategy that you need to be aware of.

It comes into play in the territory expansion gameplay. You need to accumulate cards by creating them in your city and trading them with others. I've barely touched this part of the game, as I was concentrating on all the other balls in the air in the elaborate juggling routine that is Kingdom Conquest II.

The ability to stay in the game for long periods of time by running quests is a damn good thing, because it bolsters the sense that this game requires your dedication. It's not a drop-in, drop-out casual experience that you can play for two minutes while in the queue at the bank.

To be truly effective with your time, you need to have a clearly formed game plan, even before launching the application: "Right, today on my bus ride to work I'm upgrading all my warehouses and buying that new plot of land. If there's time I'll form a new team of monsters to go out and take that empty square next to my city and run the next difficulty of quest".

It's exhausting, and won't suit casual gamers, but if you do let yourself get invested in Kingdom Conquest II you'll relish every moment.

How are you finding the game? You can let me and the rest of the PG community know about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below.

Kingdom Conquest II

Menus could be snappier and simpler, and there are too many systems at play to hook casual players, but those that do get the Kingdom Conquest bug will find a compelling multi-genre blend with high production values
Peter Willington
Peter Willington
Die hard Suda 51 fan and professed Cherry Coke addict, freelancer Peter Willington was initially set for a career in showbiz, training for half a decade to walk the boards. Realising that there's no money in acting, he decided instead to make his fortune in writing about video games. Peter never learns from his mistakes.