When I like a game, I can usually tell by how eager I am to have it across every console or system I can play it on. Generally, a game has to have the right kind of relaxing, brain-work and tension for me to be sold on it and want it pretty much everywhere. Well, Raw Fury done did it again.
Now, I’ve talked about Kingdom before, the game Raw Fury published from Noio, Licorice and composed by ToyTree. Since then, Kingdom has seen two releases and the latest in the series is Kingdom Two Crowns. Not only has this game given some escalation in its difficulty, but it almost feels completely and fully realized. Good news though, you’ve got the ability to play with a friend now. This could only be wonderful, right?
Answer: It should be. Well, this isn’t the fault of the game but more the fact that it was a pretty consistent bit of business when I played the game by myself. Sure, I’d stumble, but I could only really trouble myself with that. Invite a friend in and I got to find out just how piss-poor at Kingdom management and sharing that I truly, truly am. See, I spent countless hours in Kingdom Classic. I made it well over 100 days and that was largely in part to my obsessive behavior, my managing of kingdom funds and understanding how to make the world work for me. I felt good about my biome rolls and RNG seemed to get worked out for me when it was the most important. Add another person into that mix? Whew, boy…
See, I stepped in with my dear friend Varen and we were both so excited to play the game together that, separately, we had enjoyed. Well, that was until we were both racing head-first into Mr. Buttons (The guy with the donkey that gives you money at the start of each day) and snatching up funds every single time a Tiffany (Yes, I named all the archers Tiffany. Don’t ask. I don’t know.) would drop a precious coin. Panic was already settling in. Great, we had to share money and while it seemed smart to divide up the property that needed work and have him focus on one side of the map, me the other, that worked for all of five minutes.
One of the things about Kingdom is that, in its simplicity, lies the ability to underestimate it. A side-scrolling 2D pixelated masterpiece with only a few actual directions on how to play it. Here, let me help you understand,
1. Gather coins.
2. Fund protective wall structure to keep enemies out.
3. Visit neighboring hobo tents, give them pajamas (one pajama costs one gold coin)
4. Make sure they have jobs.
5. Micromanage the utter shit out of every person who wears the pajamas of your Kingdom.
There. That’s pretty much it. See, in Kingdom you can’t actually fight to help anyone on a defensive or even offensive level. So, you and your pal are just riding around on horseback, waiting for coins to drop from the Tiffanies, praying your friend doesn’t tear down trees when you’ve got scant camps to bring people in from and generally just racing back and forth on horses that would prefer you not to. *pantpantpant* Okay, so it’s a lot. The thing is, it adds a difficulty to the game that I sorely needed. I mean, alone I can manage everything and take my time. You add another person, even a friend who may feel the way you do, and you can’t really even guess how complicated it may be. It starts to make you paranoid. “Did they take the money from my Tiffanies? I need to make a stone wall and those are expensive!” or the new classic “Are they understanding how important the day cycles are!? WHY ARE THEY STILL OUT THERE!? It’s NIGHT!” which I must yelp every time the sun barely fades into the right side of the background.
This was when I recognized that the difficulty spike, perhaps, is a Candice thing and not an everyone thing. See, I bet Varen and Bella would’ve had a far easier time playing with me if I wasn’t such a neurotic so-and-so over every small detail. Were they waiting for the grass to grow before building another wall? Were they fortified enough? I better go check on them. I BETTER GO CHECK ON EVERYTHING. Have the Jellybeans (I know, I know. They’re called ‘Greed’ but let’s be real: They’re angry licorice jellybeans.) breached!? The fun to be had is actually in the slip-ups or when the game actually manages to catch you off-guard. When the game continues to roll through, not minding your pause button or caring that you’re both standing around arguing about the next move before you build your ship, you have no choice but to rush to defenses.
What makes Kingdom Two Crowns so much fun is the fact that, quite honestly, you have no idea what is going to happen. You think you have it handled and perhaps that first land of yours is rockin’ and money is falling in the water because you just have so much! Second land? Sure, it’s a bit more testy but it’ll be fine. We got this. Third land? Well, you’re so not even remotely prepared. Suddenly Mr. Buttons isn’t showing up and the Tiffanies don’t have ANYTHING to hunt because it’s winter. Oh, did I mention that? Yeah, seasons. If it snows, all of your farms are dead and you’re just left hoping you can use your Elk to seduce deer towards the camp for the Tiffanies to busy themselves with. And let’s not even begin on the blood moons that straight up sends a fist into whatever plans you had for that new land of yours.