Features & Use
King's Empire is very similar to our past test candidates Galaxy Empire and Spartan Wars. The ground rules are comparable to the strategy game genre. The player is thrown directly into the game and is the king of a small kingdom. The newly appointed king doesn't need to take the first steps on his own. In the first few minutes, the player is held by the hand and guided step-by-step through the first portion. This tutorial will introduce you to the game's ground mechanics and even has a red thread that you can follow.
The game experience – as far as I could tell during the testing time – is separated into various parts. The first part is explained in the tutorial, described above. The king learns about his duties, which include expanding the kingdom, as well as defending it.
After the player has successfully built and improved the various buildings on his land, the focus is then turned to building a powerful army, which needs time and resources to grow. In order to get these needed provisions, you can organize raids to plunder other towns or work laboriously. The path of war brings the player quicker to success in this game. That's why the developer made a very smart design decision: non-player villages.
These villages of different shapes and sizes are found on your map and in the beginning stages, present the perfect ''farms''. By going this plundering route, the player isn't necessarily directed to other human players in the nearby surroundings. You're able strengthen your army for the first few gaming hours or days, before actually needing to make real player contact and getting down to business.
King's Empire offers a few motivating tasks, which keep the player from getting bored. These so-called tasks are to be completed after finishing the tutorial. They take form of normal duties and are conducted on a daily basis. Completing these gives the player consequently two very significant advantages. The player gets the first one after a few days of playing, once the tutorial has ended. What it is, is a suggested guideline. It's my opinion that often you focus too much on one individual aspect of the game mechanic, losing sight of the others. For example, you forget the expansion of your own village while savagely waging war. It can even happen the other way around. On the other hand, duties offer additional rewards such as resources and items.
Items are another component, which enriches the basic game. In King's Empire, these can be compared to an enhancement, like resources that rain down from the sky or a peace treaty arrangement. These will save the gamer many wasted hours. Now the reader is probably wondering how theses things can be acquired: with or without money.
If you don't have any money, these items can be won by waging war or plundering other enemy NPC villages. Though these aren't the most dangerous of rivals, it is a good start when first starting the game. You can also gain items by completing tasks, as well as in the tutorial.
There is one more place to gain items without spending money: a wishing well.
The principal behind the wishing well is relatively easy. Everyday the player obtains wishes from the completed activities of the last few days. These can be granted in the wishing well and result in either an item, diamonds or troupes. Initially, there was little to complain about regarding this aspect and it's only normal for players to want many wishes. You can use diamonds to buy yourself extra wishes (a limited amount) every day. On the other hand, this takes away from your actual power, especially in the beginning, since now your game is mainly determined by luck.
Using actual money is a discussion-worthy topic. It's understandable that the developer wants to make money, but to what extent? During my test, it became seemingly clear that you can buy many more advantages with money and significantly shift the balance of the game. No one has anything against small enhancements, but when you acquire spectacular advantages using diamonds, then the player is suddenly battling windmills.
Accelerating the construction process or the option to simultaneously conduct building projects are examples of what can be done using money in the game. The first example entails speeding up the very lengthy expansion of troupes. Even during war time, you can create armies from the ground up in a flash. With the second example, you can finish a lengthy building constructions a lot faster. In both cases, the use of real money really has a huge impact on how the game flows, creating a shift in the balance.
On the other hand, the balance in King's Empire is controlled by a level system. This way your kingdom can join any given level, coupling it with the use of various items. It takes time before you can reach higher levels and you feel a sense of pride when you're suddenly successful.
King's Empire is a fun game that you can play for many hours and days on end. There's very little to complain about.
I think it would be great if the player could see more than just the graphic display of the city; a list would have been advantageous. It's often the case that you want to construct a building and you need to swipe through the entire map. Deciding the city location would also be great. The way I imagine it, the player is able to choose where their future kingdom will be sited at the beginning of the game, in order to be closer to friends.
One thing that really surprised me while testing out King's Empire was how ease it was to play using a mobile connection. I don't just mean the fast kind with LTE or 3G, but also with slower internet, with which you can easily play, just with longer waiting times.
The last point worth mentioning is the communication with other players. This is a multiplayer game and is comprised of different sections. At the end of the day, you can create personal bonds with friends, alliances, and of course, enemies. I find that the alliance portion could be a little more developed and include a permanent chat room. The global chat room is well visited, though I couldn’t' understand most of the writing, since it was all in Cyrillic lettering (Russian for example).
King's Empire was a fun game to play and has the potential of becoming very addictive. At first, the player is taken by the hand and guided by a thread towards tasks to be completed, setting the user in the right direction. Aspects like entering attainable levels, being able to play with others in multiplayer mode and the NPC (non-player character) villages give the user motivation to play more, maintaining a certain interest level. Winnings from the wishing well also have this same effect.
However there's a darker side to King's Empire too. The advantage of using in-app purchasing is too high and leads to a strong shift in the game's balance. The ''luck of the draw'' aspect of the wishing well isn't completely positive, especially at the beginning of the game. There are also the small things, like not being to chose your location on the map.
After all is said and done, this is still a good game that can also be fun even without money and is worth a closer look.
Screen & Controls
Within this category, there are different aspects regarding the presentation and the controls.
My first impression of King's Empire was really good. The graphic presentation is well done and you can see that they paid close attention to detail. On the other hand, the image becomes unclear when you zoom in, though this is redeemed by the otherwise detailed images within the presentation. These small detailed images include knights in training, who can be seen arduously working.
The regional map, which is quite minimalistic, slopes in comparison to the graphic presentation.
On top of the graphical side of the game, the music also plays an important role. It helps the player dive into the medieval scenario. However, the music does end up being a little repetitive after a while. Though quite epic-sounding in the start screen, it's replaced by unspecific sounds during the game. This was a lot better.
King's Empire's controls showed no weaknesses and brings in the big guns. During the testing, there were no key errors and the navigation could be easily handled.
Speed & Stability
While I tested King's Empire, it occasional stopped working, which isn't so bad since you don't loose any data nor your place in the game. However, it did get on my nerves. Something could also be done about the loading times, which were sometimes quite long.
King's Empire is a free game and is available in the App Centre. Here I'll mention again the in-purchasing, which significantly shifts the balance in the game.