Kingdom For Keflings

by Angela Simpson
author awarded score: 80/100

Kingdom for Keflings Review
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Ninja Bee
Format Reviewed: Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade)
Reviewed By: Angela Simpson

It’s not often we publish reviews of Xbox Live titles, but thanks to Thumb Bandits, here's the Kingdom for Keflings review. They don't often write Xbox Live reviews, mainly because they don’t get them sent out for review and people are generally more interested in the big hitting premium release titles. So why does a Kingdom for Keflings get a full written review based purely on a personal purchase? Simple – it’s a little star and one I thought should shine on you.

A Kingdom for Keflings is a watered down God game. You play a Giant helping a little kingdom grow in populace and infrastructure. The Giant you play in game is your new Xbox Live avatar, so it’s essentially a little mini ‘you’ in game. Let’s not beat around the bush here, at a mere 800 Microsoft Points you should own A Kingdom for Keflings and you know what, 800 MS Points is a bargain.

The gameplay in A Kingdom for Keflings is a fairly simple affair, some may even use the word monotonous given its repetitive nature. Whilst saying a game has monotonous gameplay sounds negative, in this instance – however strange – it is not. Like Animal Crossing, The Settlers and the old quirky GameCube title Doshin the Giant, A Kingdom for Keflings hits upon gameplay that whilst full of repetition, remains enjoyable and challenging. Whatever that magic is, this Kingdom is sprinkled with it.

Where it shines
A Kingdom for Keflings is an adorable title and one that is quite genius in its innocence. Unlike other God games, A Kingdom for Keflings is a relaxing jaunt, there is no imminent danger, no incoming disaster or warring nation, there is only peace, the changing of the seasons and tasks to be done. The Keflings – if you haven’t already gathered – are the name of your diminutive townsfolk. You can set your townsfolk to work by simply picking them up and placing them where you would like them to do so. They can chop wood, mine for rock, cultivate crystals, sheer sheep and also deliver different items from certain places to others, thus building up your game resources.

The way NinjaBee have structured A Kingdom for Keflings is nothing short of simple genius. They must be gamers themselves because they clearly understand the law of ’sometimes less is more’. The game works so well because of its simplistic structure. It’s never bogged down in a multitude of menus, a timer or antagonist waiting on the periphery. It is this ease of play and gentleness that I loved, along with the steady growth of resources in the games structure.

You begin with only a blueprint to work from, using the workshop you build the appropriate pieces the next building needs. The blueprint shows you the position you place the pieces relative to one another for the structure to be built. Choose a place in your little area and begin. You open more blueprints as you play and also get given new mini tasks by the Mayor as He/ She becomes more powerful as the game continues.

The multiplayer in A Kingdom for Keflings works seamlessly and offers 1-4 player co-op or 2-4 player multi-player. You can start a multi-player game with ease and meet a friend in game where you can both work together on building up the kingdom. It’s also possible to play the co-op game alone should your friends not be available. Strangely I couldn’t load my single player game and have a friend join, which was a tad annoying given I wanted help in our almost finished kingdom, so if you want help in the future, start a co-op game and save it.

The female gamer content in A Kingdom for Kelflings is you. Does it get any better than that? You can be the big friendly Giant helping your wee townsfolk on the way toward a better life. As far as non playable female characterization goes, half your Keflings are female, given every time you put love into a house you gain two new Keflings and they are inevitably one male and one female. Sure that’s lame, maybe a little popup menu so you could choose new Kefling gender would have been cool, but there isn’t one so we all have to deal with it. Maybe the next Kingdom for Keflings will have this option, you could make an all male or all female society, imagine an Amazonian kingdom, who wouldn’t love that!

On the upside there are no gender restrictions on what jobs your Keflings can do, stick a guy in the silk factory and a girl mining for stones, it makes no difference. Other than looks (the girls all in dresses *shudder!*) each Kefling does whatever job you give them, including the role of Mayor / Leader.

Overall I think A Kingdom for Keflings is an absolute shining star in a universe of much mediocrity on XBLA. It has come out of nowhere as a bastion of all that is relaxing and adorable in the realm of the old style God game. It won’t last you forever, but you will get way more gameplay out of it than some games that are ten times as much to purchase. We would definitely suggest you download the demo and check it out, but be prepared to purchase some MS Points because chances are you will want the full game.

This review originally appeared at our partner site Thumb Bandits