The first installment of the Kingdom series was a curious take on tower defense. I enjoyed it. I put at least a few hours into it. I played New Lands, as well. The problem with both was the depth required to keep me engaged.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of the series. I like tower defense, and I like strategy games. This series manages to combine elements of both in a way that is both minimalist, and yet, deeper than it seems on the surface. There’s a nuanced approached to how these games are designed and I am a big fan of how well it combines simplicity with conscious base design.
This is where Two Crowns succeeds.
Effectively picking up where its predecessors left off, Two Crowns shares much of the same gameplay: explore either direction of a 2D world, find treasure, expand and defend your base, build a boat to reach the next area.
The thing Two Crowns does so effectively compared to its predecessors is the world building. Travelling between levels is travelling between continents. You can and will go back and forth on your boats. It’s fun to see your old bases still operating as you return, and the new challenges waiting when you get there.
The world is grander and full of more interesting things to find, too. There are curious ruins which have various effects when you unlock them. There are cottages with extra characters hiding inside, which you can coax to come join your kingdom. There are even several mounts to find and ride while you explore.
The mechanics are otherwise very much the same as the previous games. Controls are extremely simple, with very little guidance, allowing you to feel impressively immersed in this little 2D kingdom. As each day passes, waves of enemies grow increasingly difficult. So, you’ll have to continue to upgrade your base, and recruit villagers to defend it, just as before. However, if you lose your crown, you return to the same kingdom as a descendent, with many of the original facilities in place–which gives a sort of extra-lite, rogue-like progression. So, even when you fail, the game encourages you to keep going.
There are some things that might give it a little edge, though. It lacks some depth of control, like being able to command your units, or actually fight with your own character. When you respawn as a descendent, previous areas you explored already have their treasures plundered, which can make early progress a bit tedious in return attempts.
Small things aside, I really enjoy this one because there just aren’t many games like this. It’s a simple game with a big ability to charm and tweak the right buttons for a lovely mix of tower defense, strategy and adventure. It’s a game I will definitely keep coming back to.