Kingdoms Reborn Review – A New Beginning
There’s a strange amount of enjoyment I get from city building simulators. There is almost this sense of accomplishment after hours of play where you look at your city, see all the people working together to build a better future for each other. And a game like Kingdoms Reborn has definitely been able to scratch that itch.
Kingdoms Reborn is a city building simulator developed and published by Earthshine. It seems what they’ve set out to do is continue what games like Banished were building towards.
The Strong Survived
Before you start the game, you have a modicum of choices before you. From the game settings menu, you can choose world size, sea level, moisture, amount of players, and more. Along with that, you can even input seeds to get a different world from what other people have received. I got “Dikdik slam walrus.”
The story is simple. An event called The Great Freeze has left civilization staggered, and everyone separated from each other. Those who were strong enough survived and, now that the last of the Freeze has withered away, it is up to them to rebuild what is left of civilization, bit by bit.
Before we begin, let’s talk about the UI. From the get go, it seems rather basic. It’s not very flashy, or interesting. Instead, it’s simple to understand. The devs went to great lengths to make sure everything is there at your fingertips to make things easier. You can find out everything you need to know, from the price of a specific resource on the market, to the level of fertility a certain piece of land contains for farming. Though I hope they can spice it up a bit, I don’t mind it at all. It does its job, and it does it well.
Where To Begin
So, when you start, you pick a piece of land and purchase it with your funds. This eventually leads into a bigger system where you can purchase more land around you for money, food, or even influence, a currency you receive later on. Before that, you gotta build your land using the resources around you. Since many rivers were nearby me, I decided to start as a fishing village.
However, getting a building for fishing is a strange task, as, besides a few select buildings like houses, this game doesn’t just allow you to build whatever you want. You need to get a card for it. You see, every 150 seconds (this can be sped up with the in-game fast forward, or bypassed with ten gold) you’ll get the chance at purchasing cards. These cards are either buildings, like quarries, hunting lodges, clay pits, or perks you can add to certain buildings, like more productivity or less upkeep costs.
You get five to choose from, but you can also reroll for a growing fee each time you choose it. I don’t hate it, but it does sorta make me annoyed when I can’t get the exact building I wanted after many rerolls. Though, it does make me consider buildings I wouldn’t usually get, which is actually an important aspect of Kingdoms Reborn.
Managing Your Town
Resource management is the name of the game. One of the buildings you can set up is a storage yard. These will hold resources you aren’t using at the moment, or will trade away. There needs to be one within a specific radius of every productive building.
Resources are important, obviously, but more so what’s important are the buildings. If you don’t have the buildings that can turn those resources into something usable, what’s the point. For a long while, I had a huge amount of medicinal herbs and none of it was being turned into medicine. My people were dying from sickness during winter. I thought it was a bug until I found out the “Medicine Maker” is a building I could make. Then, no one died from sickness, as long as I kept up supply.
Getting some resources will be impossible at the place you put your home, so you’ll need to turn to trading, another important aspect. For a while, my people needed steel tools. So, I got a trade port and traded for iron ore, which went to the iron smelter, turning it into iron bars, which then went to the blacksmith, which turned those into steel tools. There’s always going to be a processing of items, until you get the item you need. That’s what is important to keep in mind with this game.
That’s only scratching the surface of the amount of complexity this game contains. Every productive building will have levels of customizability, like ordering a forester to plant either fruit trees or not fruit trees, and whether they should both cut down trees and plant new ones.
Now, the problem with all of this is the AI. Sometimes, they won’t do what you expect of them. Though that is what other buildings are for. They are dumb if they aren’t told where to go, so you put priority on certain jobs to make sure they are done before others. This may take a while to figure out, but once you understand the level of stupidity of the AI, you will get stuff done.
Of course, you’ll need more of this AI. Immigration is another important aspect, as it allows fully formed adults, and their children, to join your town without needing to wait for your other citizens to bang one out. They even add this really nice prompt where you see the child’s face brighten at being able to live in a better town. That genuinely made me smile.
All of this is done to make sure your civilization flourishes. This is done on multiple levels, research, housing, and your main building, the town hall. The more each of these levels are upgraded, the further eras you’ll reach, and the more of the newest technologies you can partake in. You upgrade researching by researching more things, you upgrade housing by having more of them, and you upgrade the town hall with resources.
Beyond The Limits
Now, what about beyond that? Well, along with yourself, there are a certain amount of other towns starting themselves, and also thriving on their own. These are the towns you are trading with. There are multiple things you can do with them. Firstly, if you keep a nice relationship with them, you’ll get money as a gift from them. Secondly, diplomacy is an option, where you can befriend other towns and even have citizens marry each other. Then there’s the third thing you can do.
This game doesn’t have actual combat. Instead, what you do to take over towns, or protect your own, is a more auction like experience. When you attempt to vassalize a town, you’re basically using your influence to push your strength on a city, reinforcing it with more influence before it is finally taken over. Once it’s been taken over, you get taxes from them, but they are still running themselves, so you need not worry about them.
Other aspects of going against other towns include kidnapping and espionage, but I’ve never needed to use it. I may have chosen an easier difficulty, but I’ve been able to flourish with very little hiccups. By the time I’ve written this review, I have twenty thousand gold, plenty of resources to trade and sell, as well as many citizens. According to the dev, things will physically start to slow down around three hundred people, so I’ll have to be careful.
A True Successor
There’s so much more to say about Kingdoms Reborn, but it would take too long to name every single one. Besides, finding out these things are what makes the game fun. There is a surprising amount of complexity and thought put into this game, and thus it will have some problems. The devs are pretty good at fixing issues, though, so as long as problems are reported, you should be good. The dev has even laid out several things they will fix already, like the AI and optimization.
Overall, this was a game I really enjoyed. Again, watching as my civilization flourish from just a small fishing village to a thriving town of above one hundred people. This is the game I wanted Banished to be, and it did so in spades. I will most likely be coming back to this some time soon, as there are still several more eras which I can grow to. It makes me wonder what lies in store for me and my town.
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Reviewed by Freelance7 on PC. Game provided by Earthshine.