Battling the Forces of Evil, Old School Style
If you’ve been a fan of my reviews then you know all too well what a sucker I am for old-school style shooters. I grew up playing shooters like Doom II back in the day. Often less talked about are the many “Doom clones”, early FPS games that attempted to mimic the gameplay style and environment of Doom. Despite the branding, many of these games offered something unique that helped set the foundation for the FPS genre. That is why a game like Kingdom of the Dead is welcoming as it reminds gamers of these forgotten classics.
Kingdom of the Dead is a retro-inspired first person that pits players against the army of death. Its pen and ink-drawn visual design will get your attention while the retro influenced gameplay along with its macabre world will keep you wanting push on.
Welcome Agent Chamberlain
For ages; an ancient order known as the Gatekeepers has been responsible for keeping Death from taking over the world of the living. However; everything has changed when Death is able to establish a massive army with the souls of those killed during the Great War. Players are put in the role of Agent Chamberlain of the Bureau (a government agency working with the Gatekeepers ) who is tasked with stopping Death. With the help of a mythical weapon, players must fight the army of the dead and stop Death.
From a narrative perspective, Kingdom of the Dead is first and foremost a homage to Nocturne (a horror survival released in 1999). Its setting, characters, and style make it clear how much of an influence this cult classic had on the world building. As both put players in the role of a government agent fighting the supernatural during the 1920’s. Also like Nocturne; players have the choice of which missions to do instead of playing it in a set order.
Unlike Nocturne, this is a retro inspired first-person shooter. Players will begin each mission with their sword and a revolver while collecting other weapons along the way. These weapons include classics like the shotgun and Gatling gun along with other weapons like a lever action rifle. Each mission has players battle demons, fight the boss and close the portal at the end. Making the experience challenging is no saves along with limited health pick ups and checkpoints. Don’t think this makes the game unwelcoming as you could still select the difficulty level before each mission just to get an idea of what to expect.
Protecting the World of the Living
Right away, Kingdom of the Dead is going to get your attention with the visual details. The pen and ink style of design is going to get your attention and it’s an art that has to be appreciated. It’s also not used as a gimmick as a lot of attention to the details were put into the world. Not just the levels but also one’s interactions with the world. This not only makes it stand out from other shooters but sets the game’s overall tone. It doesn’t serve as a defining element but the foundation for its macabre setting.
From enemy design to how the world looks and the story all use visual tone as a foundation. The eerie East Coast setting makes players will feel like they are venturing through a Lovecraftian world. Using this artistic style, several enemies look like demons from Doom if they were designed by Tim Burton. My point is, if you’re a fan of gothic style works then you will enjoy this game.
The shooter gameplay along with its eerie setting is also accompanied by the perfect soundtrack. This helps set the tone for when you want to start blasting demons in a gothic setting. All this also adds to the game replay value, because you do want to go back for more.
Rust is a Real Depreciator
Kingdom of the Dead is a masterpiece when it comes to retro-inspired shooters but it has some issues. They’re the obvious bugs and glitches. Bugs and glitches are present but they are not game breaking while they could easily be fixed with a few patches. Thus it’s very forgivable, especially given the overall quality of the game made by a small team.
Kingdom of the Dead will get your attention with its pen and ink style visuals while keeping you hooked with its retro-FPS inspired gameplay. Old school gamers will enjoy it for that retro-inspired gameplay and setting. Fans of shooters will enjoy it for being a modern take on a classic setup. Overall; this is a game that one shouldn’t overlook.
Disclaimer: Renaissance PR provided the game used in this review.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
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