Kingdom Two Crowns is a minimalistic strategy and kingdom building game. It was Developed by Noio and CoatSink. It is available on Xbox One including gamepass, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC, Steam and Humble Bundle. The humble bundle link is a referral, I get a small commission if you purchase the game through it.
This game was reviewed on a standard Xbox One by Joseph Pugh.
Kingdom Two Crowns is a life lesson in artistic form. What lesson does it teach? A couple of them in fact. Firstly, that mistakes can never ever be undone ever, seriously ever. Secondly, it doesn’t matter where you come from, what you have done or who you are. As long as you have boatloads of money!
You play a lone monarch who begins the game in a new land with no kingdom from which to rule. No followers to feed you grapes and massage your feet. But its okay, throw a vagrant a shiny gold coin and you have a new and ever loyal subject ready to do your bidding. Unless they lose said coin of course… So much for loyalty to the crown, filthy beggar.
The game’s presentation is very retro, to the point, it’s going to turn some people away. The graphics are pixellated, intentionally resembling games two decades old. But it would be a lie to say Kingdom Two Crowns looks bad. In fact, it looks very polished and clean. The animations are also done very well and if you can get used to the overall aesthetic, it is quite pleasant on the eyes.
The game tells you almost nothing, you learn everything through trial and error. It controls easy enough, simple movement and two buttons are all the game really uses. The game spans a number of islands and each one has you picking up coins and distributing them with your monarch.
You ride around in 2D side-scrolling game space. Spending coins is how you make everything happen. Toss a filthy vagrant a coin, and he instantly becomes a clean and respectable member of your new society. Spend two coins at Fletcher to buy a bow and your new citizen will sprint for it and become a bowman.
Use a coin to mark a tree for your builders to cut down. Preplaced spots on the map dictate where you can build walls and towers, slam down the moolah and watch your builders go to work. At its core, this is Kingdom Two Crowns gameplay loop. Make money, expand with money, defend, repeat.
Money is the games main resource and you acquire it for the most part, through your subjects. Your bowman hunt animals and give you the coin, Your farmers make money with crops, and your spearmen do a little fancy stab fishing and make dough from it.
At night, creatures known as The Greed spawn forth from portals on the map and attack your walls. They want to steal your coin, and literally everything else. If a Greed comes into contact with a coin, they pick it up and retreat.
If they touch one of your subjects, they will knock the tool from their hands, be it a bow, hammer or anything else and steal it. If an unarmed subject is struck, they lose their coin and become a vagrant once more. The greed ignores those filthy degenerates. When greed touches your monarch, they take coins and gems from you. If you have none on your person, they take your crown which sets you back a great deal of time.
You play the game hoarding coin and spending it in the wisest ways possible, planning your every move. I wasn’t just jesting earlier, any mistakes will not be forgiven. You can’t unbuild anything, nor can you stop builders from constructing something once you have given the order.
You can’t manually make your subjects switch from Bowman to another class. You’re unable to manually command any of your subjects. The game functions on a set of strict parameters, and you have to figure out what these are with no tooltips of any kind. Make the wrong one? Short of starting a new game, there’s nothing you can do.
I’ll do my best not to spoil much of it but to paint a clear picture of the game, some of its unavoidable. So be warned now, reading any further will spoil some of the mechanics.
Each island has a ship you have to build and use it move to other islands, a number of Greed portals, a large main portal, and various special gem items. They also have vagrant camps, farm locations and spots to build walls and towers. The gem items are predetermined for each island.
But the locations of them and the more mundane things are randomized. You can leave an island as soon as you have built a ship, and on each subsequent island, building the ship becomes more and more difficult, requiring more coin than before the previous one.
Leaving the island doesn’t complete it. You have to do something on each one that I won’t spoil in the review. But you are free to return to previous lands with the ship in addition to going to new ones. In fact, its necessary to do so in order to acquire all gem items and complete the islands. The earlier lands require new tech options to complete that’s only available from later game levels.
The gems I keep mentioning are for special things that require them to unlock. These can be new mounts, hermits or global and everlasting buffs. Gems are finite and are found in chests. There are only just enough gems to unlock every single item in the game that requires them. No extras, and if a Greed hits you and you have no coins, they WILL take the gems and you can’t get them back.
Furthermore, your kingdoms on the islands you are not currently playing on decay over time. the structures built there will slowly get destroyed, and the longer you take to move back to them, the worse it is.
You have to take care when planning how to expand your kingdom. Chopping trees allow more grass to spawn which creates rabbits to be hunted. But chopping all the trees near a vagrant camp destroys it. And expanding your walls gives you more space and more types of structures you can use, but wipes out the grass. You can easily back yourself into a corner where you have no possible income or no way to recruit new subjects.
Every choice you make is permanent. Build a tower and a bowman will stand inside it to shoot at enemies. But you cannot take him out of it unless he gets knocked down by an enemy or you access an upgrade that does not require him. Accidently mark a tree to be cut, and it will wipe out the only vagrant camp left on the map? It’s gone. You may be a monarch, but the word no, halt and stop must be forbidden words in your kingdom.
Kingdom Two Crowns gives you no indicators or tooltips on what something does. Your only option is to try it and see what happens. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. But its also a game that locks you into the consequences of your actions, it’s hard to justify punishing mistakes, when you have no way of knowing something was a mistake in the first place.
Especially in cases like the tower. Why would anyone assume that within the setting of the game, that the monarch cannot move bowmen from towers? Nor can the monarch force knights to move to the left side of the kingdom that needs defending, after destroying all possible enemy spawn points on the right side?
This also makes any bug or bad design stick out like a sore thumb. Hermits are one of the things you can unlock with gems. Each hermit has a separate function, from upgrading your farms, or upgrading your towers. And they travel with you when you change islands. But if they come into contact with the greed, they get kidnapped and like all other things, are gone.
But for some reason, they also tend to wander around and at times will take a midnight stroll outside your walls and right into the greed. Worse, the Xbox One version of Kingdom Two Crowns, in particular, has a very nasty bug. Normally if you lose your crown you are taken back to the first island, the decay has set in but you can continue without totally starting from scratch.
Anything you have already unlocked with gems is supposed to still be accessible. On the Xbox version, they are not. Losing your crown is supposed to be punishing, but this bug makes it crippling. Some of the global buffs are very important to the game and losing them in addition to the normal consequences of losing your crown, warrants a restart altogether.
Kingdom Two Crowns has a cycle of seasons, and they don’t reset when you switch islands. When winter comes, the game quickly devolves into doing something else while the season passes by. Farms don’t function and animals don’t spawn in winter. Which means your money prospects are pretty nil. So often times in winter either your defenses aren’t good enough and you will lose. Or they are okay and you let the game run until winter passes by because there isn’t much to do.
Another complaint I have is there are different types of greed, but most types don’t show up until very late in the game after many in-game days have passed. While it keeps the difficulty on a steady curve, it also makes the night attacks repetitive for a long time.
It’s fun to figure out what each structure, unit type, and hermit does. Even if it severely punishes you for not knowing what they do in the first place. There is also a lot of mounts that can be unlocked. Each one has different speeds, stamina, and abilities. For example, a stag that moves quickly in the forest and charms other deer to follow it. Or a Griffin that can knock back greed with a gust of wind.
There is a lot of strategy and planning both in the moment and in advance hours later. There is also local and online co-op. The game plays exactly the same, but with two monarchs. The game only resets if both lose their crown. If one player loses it, the other can spend coins to forge them a new one. Having two players to cover twice as much ground and complete tasks is a definite advantage. But only play with those who have your explicit trust as its quite easy for someone to make your game fubar.
The version I played also came with a free DLC titled Shogun (Which is also where the screenshots in this review are from). Shogun plays almost the exact same way as the base game but with an ancient far east aesthetic and a few mechanical differences. But regardless it’s a nice bonus.
Its a fun game with what I believe to be design flaws and a couple of nasty bugs. Its art style looks nice, but won’t appeal to everyone. The game is challenging and the co-op works well. It is a meaty game with a decent amount of content for the $20 price tag.
If you like side scrolling games with strategy. Consider checking out my early access look of Aground!.
- Lots of strategy in a minimalistic form
- Retro but polished and pretty art style.
- Lots of mounts, units, and stuff to discover
- Layered and persistent gameplay between islands.
- Local and online co-op
- Potentially game breaking bug
- Minimalistic figure it out yourself design clashes with mistake punishment system.
- Suicidal hermits enjoy long walks in the Greed filled moonlight
- Repetitive and boring winter season
- No control over any aspect of your subjects can lead to cases of very little player interaction.