Kingdom Conquest is less a game than it is an occupation. It’s a massive, multifaceted experience, a super-powered time suck that will inhale any free time you have, along with time that would be better spent doing something productive, like homework, housework, or work-work. Download Kingdom Conquest at your own risk.
So what is Kingdom Conquest? It’s an action beat-‘em-up, a town-building sim, an MMORPG, and a strategy game all rolled into one. These aspects are all fun in their own right, and the game does an admirable job of blending them together so they feel like parts of a whole.
As the story goes, Magna, the land of monsters, has fallen into chaos since the disappearance of its king. This power vacuum has attracted adventurers from all around who have come to claim the throne for themselves. You play as one of those adventurers, and your goal is to build and manage a town, establish an army of monsters, expand your land holdings, form alliances, and eventually conquer seven monster-controlled towers to become king. But doing that is no easy task, and there are many other real-life players just as determined as you to take control.
The denizens of Sim City prepare for all-out war.
Guiding you on your way is The Messenger, a skeleton in an ornate cloak, who looks sort of like the Hugh Hefner of grim reapers. When you start, he gives you a brief tutorial to show you the basics of each type of gameplay. He touches on how to team up with players online to fight through dungeons, how to build your town, how to start a monster army, and how to conquer nearby sections of land. Once you’ve completed the tutorial, you’re set loose to do as you please. This is a daunting prospect because, as you’ll find out once you start poking around, the tutorial neglects to explain most of the buttons and commands you now have access to.
That’s where the ‘Quests’ button comes into play. Pressing this button– which, by the way, you’re never told to do– brings you back to your old buddy The Messenger, who assigns you specific tasks that walk you through the deeper aspects of the gameplay. Unless you want to use trial and error to figure out the immense amount of content the tutorial leaves unexplained, this bony old chap will become your go-to guy.
Completing his quests will show you how to level up the buildings in your town, how to manage your monster army, how to form alliances with your neighbors, and much, much more. As you complete these quests, The Messenger rewards you with resources, crystals, DP, and CP. Yes, there are four kinds of currency in Kingdom Conquest, and each one is used for something different. The most interesting is CP, or charge points, which make up the freemium aspect of the game.
You’re not the fire-breathing kind, are you?
Your actions in Kingdom Conquest are limited, and they take real-life time. For instance, you can only build or upgrade two facilities in your town at once, and pressing “OK” for each one starts a countdown timer you’ll have to wait out if you want to build something else. To hurry things along, however, you can spend CP. A small amount of CP can be earned by completing quests, but by and large you must purchase it from the Shop screen using real-life money.
Thankfully, there’s always some aspect of your kingdom that you can work on while the timers tick down on other actions you’ve initiated. So if you’ve told an army unit to conquer the barren land to the east and they won’t be back for 15 minutes, you can hack and slash through a dungeon to earn loot while you wait. Later in the game, once you’ve become hopelessly addicted, things start taking longer to accomplish. But even still, you can spend around an hour a day working on your kingdom without spending a cent.
As fun as the vast majority of the game is, it’s not perfect. There’s no lock-on feature in the dungeon hack-‘n-slash mode, so you’ll often find yourself performing a combo in mid-air for several seconds after the enemy has strolled away. The menu system could use some tweaking to streamline common actions and highlight the most important information. Also, the sheer amount of content in this game will surely overwhelm all but the most dedicated of gamers. An improved tutorial could help out there.
But these issues are easily forgivable in a game so mind-bogglingly enormous. And, unlike in many other freemium games (Ngmoco’s We series, for instance) you have an overarching goal that you’re always working towards here, which goes a long way toward bringing players back day after day. If you’re a serious gamer looking to dive into an fun, addictive, and all-encompassing experience, Kingdom Conquest has you covered.