I guess I should start by saying that Kingdom Elemental is a serious strategy game that doesn’t take itself seriously, if that makes any sense. Kingdom Elemental is a fairly unknown game that easily falls into the realm of independent games as it was created by one developer, Scott Thunelius of Liberation Games. The 106MB game was developed by Scott and is being distributed by the developer of Gish, Chronic Logic. Having never heard of Kingdom Elemental before and with the release of the latest patch (Version 1.4), I decided it was time to try it out.
The first sign that Kingdom Elemental is a little strange is during the tutorial where the narrator starts out in a booming voice typical of the fantasy genre. Then he coughs and in his regular speaking voice says, “this isn’t one of those games”. The tutorial takes you through moving and rotating the map and zooming with either the mouse or the keyboard. Also, you cover buying and placing units, and selecting them for battle. The whole tutorial takes around 5 to 10 minutes at most, so you can imagine how simple it is to control all of the game’s mechanics. Throughout the tutorial, the narrator is lighthearted and many of the jokes make fun of the game or you. Even the map to show your progression throughout the game is filled with some interesting humor. Another example is from a loading screen that says, “There was a skill that ended up being cut from Kingdom Elemental called “nag”. The sound clip for the skill was to be the developer’s girlfriend asking him to pick up some things from the store on the way home. The skill would kill all enemies on the board.”
You begin with three possible classes to unlock and each one has three skills/spells to unlock. You can only unlock a character once you get a key for completing a set of waves. Obviously the first class, the swordsman, is unlocked for you. Once you buy classes with a predetermined amount of gold, you place them one by one on the battlefield within your designated area. Once you are ready, the first wave attacks you. After a set amount of time another wave comes, so you benefit from quickly dispatching the previous wave of enemies as soon as possible as not to become overwhelmed. Most sets have five waves and when you beat the last wave you move on to the next part of the level. Sometimes you will meet up with a boss, where the boss is the only wave, and honestly that is enough. Watching my characters get stomped to death by the infamous Flaming Bear is both hilarious and painful.
As you can see from the screenshots above, the game isn’t going to win any beauty awards. The character models remind me slightly of Final Fantasy VII and other Playstation games, but given the games indie status and the emphasis on strategy I think the graphics are very appropriate. Each class has their own voice and have a small handful of different dialogue they spout out as you give commands. The funniest line that I found so far is the Archer’s comment as she dies that lets you know of her disappointment in her complete lack of armor.
The only part of the game that really irks me is the fact that the characters seem to move kind of slow, but the levels aren’t that large so it isn’t a real big deal. While playing you can pause the action to compose yourself and to issue orders to your small army. Unfortunately, you cannot queue up commands like other strategy games. You can only issue one command per character at a time. I did notice that this limitation made me care a little more about individual characters and in what order they were going to execute their skills. If you do not issue any command they will either attack freely (default) or hold their ground, but they will not unleash their special skills, such as the Archer’s Flame Arrow, unless commanded by you. The best tactic I have found is use the swordsmen to taunt like many MMOs, and let your support crew like the Necromancer pick the enemies off from a safe distance as they tend to have the least hitpoints.
I will admit that I am not a huge strategy or RTS gamer. I have been known to play some Rome: Total War and Supreme Commander, but I have to admit that even on “Normal” mode (the easiest mode) Kingdom Elemental is quite difficult for me. This game will definitely challenge you, but it is quite refreshing compared to many games where I have to crank the difficulty up just to have a real challenge. With all the combinations available with the classes and the difficulty of the game you will feel a great sense of accomplishment if you can even finish the game on the Normal difficulty setting. I couldn’t even keep track of the number of times I tried the dungeon over and over with various lineups only to get completely destroyed on the last wave of enemies.
I thoroughly enjoyed Kingdom Elemental and will continue to play it as a casual game since it is possible to play it in small spurts or for long periods of time in either the campaign or the skirmish mode. I would suggest that if you hate RTS or strategy games then stay away from this as it will definitely not be your “cup of tea”. If you like strategy games at all then this game is worth picking up for the reasonable price of $20 as it will challenge you and provide some decent entertainment. People that really like strategy games will find this game to be a steal as they will get the full benefit of trying out numerous class combinations until they find a set that truly compliments their play style. Unlocking classes and skills offers a little variety to the replayability. For more info go check out Liberation Games (especially the hilarious FAQ) and go here to purchase the game from Chronic Logic.
- Very easy game mechanics
- Tactics are as complicated as you want them to be
- Great humor
- Ten different classes to unlock
- Giant Flaming Bear
- Fairly difficult even on easiest mode
- No multiplayer