In gaming, there are few sensations as rewarding as beating a tyrannically difficult title. At least some of the appeal of games like Demon’s Souls or Super Meat Boy emanate from developers daring players to conquer a seemly insurmountable challenge. While grueling games have their place, they aren’t always the best way to conclude a hectic work day. Occasionally, a tranquil title capable of washing away the daily stressors can be idyllic for working-class gamers, and is certainly easier on your liver than a scotch on the rocks.
One game that skillfully typified this kind of relaxed recreation was 2008’s A Kingdom for Keflings, a title which tasked gamers with turning a landscape filled with raw-materials into a bustling metropolis. Quite simply, the game removed conflict from the archetypal real-time strategy genre, allowing players to harvest and construct their realms without threat. Two years later, developer NinjaBee has offered a trio of fertile lands to cultivate with A World of Keflings, a game which polishes a few of the dull spots on its peaceful predecessor.
Once again, the player’s Xbox avatar serves as the game’s hulking protagonist, compassionately assisting a band of eager, yet aimless Keflings. While the genial giant is capable of mining, chopping and transporting raw materials, it’s much more productive to order each landscape’s denizens to do the dirty work. To delegate labor, gamers merely grab a Kefling and drop them on a resource outlet. Optionally, workers can transport commodities to labor shops, at the cost of slowing the harvesting process. While the Keflings work away, players are responsible for garnering blueprints, which serve as guides for the construction of new manufacturing facilities.
Whereas Kingdom required players to transport each piece of a new structure, World offers assistance from a quintet of Builder Brothers, who follow the gamer with armloads of construction pieces. Once players have successfully assembled a building, the crew will even put pieces in the proper place. Generally, World‘s AI pathfinding is solid, although rarely Keflings will get caught on a piece of the landscape, or stand around catatonic. Likewise the title’s controls are consistently functional, only becoming burdensome when players need a specific item from a group of piled objects. Ideally, the game would have presented a radial menu instead of forcing players to flip through each article with the ‘B’ Button.
As players progress, more advanced facilities are required. These workshops offer the ability to turn basic planks into curved woodworks or ore into metal plates- the essential pieces needed to create even more sophisticated facilities. While identifying the correct structure or material needed to advance can be tricky at first, the in-game manual does a fine job of balancing brevity with depth. Alas, for players that need additional assistance, a pull of the left trigger tells players exactly what they should do next. For better or worse- World does doesn’t reveal all of its intricacies, there’s still the sporadic blueprint with a question mark or a vague silhouette to guide players.
Beyond the title’s icy tundra, there’s also a lush forest and arid desert environments to develop, offering a welcome diversity from Kingdom‘s static countryside. Although constructing a mounting monarchy is an enjoyable assignment for a solitary player, the game is elevated by the patronage of a second giant. Along with returning online functionality, gamers can also bolster productivity with the aide of an additional local player. Pressuring participants to have a unified vision for their empire, World truly shines as a cooperative title. Gamers may even share collectables with the friends, via an internal private message function.
Forgoing the conflict normally found in games, A World of Keflings offers a refreshing alternative to the industry’s output of tense and taxing shooters, racers, and action tiles. As such, players should venture into the title not anticipating immediate gratification, but expecting a measured appeal which gradually veers into absorption. Although World doesn’t radically improve upon its predecessor’s formula, a handful of improvements help streamline the process of building your territory. Let’s hope NinjaBee opens the floodgates for the inevitable Kosmos of Keflings.