A Kingdom for Keflings

December 12, 2008

A Kingdom for Keflings launched alongside the Xbox 360’s dashboard update, NXE, which allows gamers to create an avatar. After picking out a set of glasses and donning a t-shirt with a monkey on it there’s really nothing left for the avatar concept to offer a gamer. This is where A Kingdom for Keflings comes in. Keflings is the first of what will surely be many titles that allow Xbox 360 gamers to play games as their avatar.

In a compelling amalgamation of Sim City, Warcraft, and Black and White, your task is to help some little people build a flourishing kingdom. Its beginnings will be humble with simple houses and a town square, but at game’s end the structures built will be composed of upwards of 20 components created by intricate strings of automated workers and manufacturing facilities. From wood, rocks, wool, and gems you will create timber, cut stone, cloth, platforms, simple and advanced towers, workbenches, gardens, and numerous other components necessary to build structures according to their blueprints and eventually bless the tiny Keflings with a magnificent Castle Keep.

A Kingdom for Keflings is a rare thing for video games – it’s relaxing. The game can be played at any pace, and there is no penalty for taking one’s time to make sure building are arranged just so and that the Keflings are gathering gems from the crop closest to the witch’s hut.

Quests are doled out by the kingdom’s mayor after you construct a town hall. While the ultimate goal is to create a Castle Keep for the Keflings the mayor supplies the player with helpful quests along the way. The reward is love which is the final component of a house or cottage, and building homes for Keflings is important because a small collection of homes means a reduced workforce, and a reduced workforce means that your avatar will be harvesting, toting, toting some more, and finally building components instead of assigning these tasks to Keflings and taking pride in an efficient assembly line operation.

A Kingdom for Keflings features online multiplayer in addition to the robust single player experience, but it is best played with a group of known friends as public games seem to deteriorate quickly when players act like adversaries instead of partners with a common task. Keflings is certainly worth playing online – just make sure that everybody knows you’re playing as a team. A Kingdom for Keflings is a unique offering on the XBLA service, and anybody with even a passing interest in strategy titles should download the demo and see just how satisfying it can be to program a game to effectively play itself.

Pros: Relaxing, satisfying supply chain creation
Cons: multiplayer can turn adversarial, ruining the experience
ESRB: E for Mild Cartoon Violence – guys get kicked, nothing worse than in
Plays Like: Black & White

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.