As part of Xbox Live’s Games for the Holidays, Microsoft and developer Ninja Bee have delivered their first present to gamers looking for a little distraction during their time off. Titled A World of Keflings, this downloadable game is a sequel to the 2008 game A Kingdom for Keflings. Being able to use their own avatar, players must work in tandem with the miniature Keflings in order to build them a better home. It’s a fairly simple concept and one that has been done once before in the previous game, but have the Keflings worn out their welcome? Read on to find out.
The storyline of the game is your standard series of assistance-motivated quests. Various characters, from the jovial king to the dastardly witch, will task the player’s avatar with either finding resources or building structures. Along the way, gamers will be able to enlist the help of the Keflings themselves who will assist in either harvesting or transporting various resources. Each resource can be combined with others in order to form a structure, which can then be combined to form a building. The main goal of the game is to provide each kingdom with the best castle possible by way of a myriad of tasks.
Throughout the game, players will encounter three different kingdoms, each with their own theme — the Desert Kingdom is reminiscent of something out of Arabian Nights while the Ice Kingdom is inhabited by the cleverly named Kefkimos. Working across the various kingdoms, the player’s avatar will bring skills from each (glass making, metal trading, etc…) into the forest kingdom, the main hub world. After all is said and done all three kingdoms should be littered with buildings and populated with tons of Keflings.
The idea of Keflings is fairly derivative, with not much challenge placed in the player’s way. Think of the game like the first ten minutes or so of any popular RTS only extended to about a five-hour experience. As different buildings begin to require varying resources, players will have to micro manage their Keflings and resources in order to ensure a certain building has the correct amount for creating new structures. At a certain point, the game moves past introducing new resources and new mechanics and takes on a lather, rinse, repeat formula, and it’s from that point forward that the game becomes more tedious than fun and where most gamers might lose the drive to move forward.
One element of Keflings that does help alleviate some of the tedium is the online play. Being able to work together with a friend makes relying on the Keflings less of a necessity and can even help speed the game along. With the help of various potions, a player’s avatar can move faster or lift more resources allowing them to transport resources where they need to be much more efficiently than the Keflings. Once two avatars enter the mix it becomes almost as if one is another super-powered Kefling to assist in forming new buildings. Co-op might shave an hour or two off the overall gameplay time and it could even breathe new life into players who have become uninterested, but finding anyone who wants to jump into another player’s world might prove difficult.
All in the all the gameplay becomes fairly repetitive at times but other times the addictive nature of “one more structure” sucks players right back in. Though if gamers are looking for motivation in A World of Keflings, they best look elsewhere. The game isn’t really a succinct story experience and certainly won't challenge most players. Like was said before, it packs in RTS elements but leaves out anything, like enemies or a fail state, that could provide sufficient motivation to place more thought into the gameplay. The five hours of gameplay might serve as a distraction from in-laws during the holidays, but not much more.
For the low price of 800 MS points, the title could make a decent stocking stuffer for the casual gamer on your Christmas list. If they enjoy the micromanaging and resource mining present in any popular RTS then they are sure to find some fun in A World of Keflings, but if you’re shopping for gamers who are looking for a downloadable game that grips you from beginning to end with constantly evolving gameplay mechanics and a compelling story, this isn’t the game for them.
Any gamers out there interested in picking up A World of Keflings for a little resource mining action? Anybody have a casual gamer on their list who would like a game like this?
A World of Keflings is available now for 800 MS Points on Xbox Live's Marketplace.