First Impressions: Kingory

Kingory is a browser based game that is set in ancient times, a time of gory combat and undefeated heroes. Honestly, I did not really care too much about what time it was set in, being that the buildings and lore could be swapped out for almost any other that we have seen before. It could have been a space setting, complete with huge tanks and space marines, or an ancient caveman world, complete with dinosaurs instead or balistas.

To me, the real difference with Kingory is the speed in which you can do things and the scale at which you can do them. You start out with your normal browser game city, and click around to build the run-of-the-mill buildings that require other buildings that require other buildings in order to be built. You need a wall, a tavern, farms to provide food and other standards that we browser fans have grown used to.

But the real glory happens when you slap down cash or earn items that help you grow faster. A few dollars or hours later and you will be well on your way to spying on your neighbors.

I want to be clear, though, that the cash shop the game provides does not hand out instant glory, nor does it hand out anything instantly. Essentially, it is a tool to speed things up and to reinforce normal game mechanics. But let's not kid ourselves; the cash shop is going to favor those with the cash. I tried out a tour account complete with many items and wonderful treasures, and I started a brand new city on a brand new server to see the differences.

First of all, a new city gains a 7 day newbie protection that helps you get your city well protected before being open to attack. But asking around in chat (yes, the game has all the normal chat channels you would expect) it seems as though willy-nilly attacking comes at a price, as players are bound together in large alliances, something not to be underestimated. Really, it felt like any other PvP game with its consequences, allowing a player to be the nuisance he or she wanted to be but not without eventually paying the piper.

"Your town reaches a certain level? Great, here's a bunch of lumber. Your citizens are a little angry at you? Fine, perform a sacrifice, spend a little gold and they suddenly smile a little more."

So as my new city was built, I played around with the higher level city that was provided to me. I can see where some of the community members explained that just buying all sorts of items and buffs from the cash shop didn't make more of a difference than time, being that the game still sets limits on how fast you can grow. I never got past the two building limit for growth, which forced me to only upgrade a bit at a time. Growing your army does have its massive price, and within a few clicks (while you laugh evily, drunk with power) you start to frown as you realize that turning every bit of your food reserves and materials into a massive army would not be a good idea. After all, you have heroes to keep happy (think named leaders of your armies, complete with equipment) and citizens to feed, so armies have to grow as slowly as anything else.

But, once you amass that army, you can do some conquering. I quickly scouted out a nearby blank tract of land and laughed as it held only a measly army of a few hundred. Being that I was feeling rather frisky, I decided to throw everything I had at them. I took it back a few notches as the price to support the armies grew, and decided to just murder them all instead of taking the time to stomp all over them as well. Oh well.

Using strategems, or extra tactics that came in the form of scrolls, made things even more fun as I was able to burn down their crops to add to their humiliation.

The system of quests in the game make for a unique sort of ongoing tutorial, giving you goals to achieve that pay off in very nice ways. Your town reaches a certain level? Great, here's a bunch of lumber. Your citizens are a little angry at you? Fine, perform a sacrifice, spend a little gold and they suddenly smile a little more. I could see playing the game just to go through the quest system.

The turn-based combat is different in this game, as you click to give different groups of soldiers different orders. You can tell them to stay back and defend, or to rush forward and attack. I am sure that as armies grow larger that tactics grow deeper, but it was fun to see it happening in a turn-by-turn basis in front of my eyes instead of clicking "attack" and waiting for a report to come back in hours later. It made me wonder how glorious a multi-army battle must be, with thousands and thousands of troops colliding, and how those reports would read; pages of text describing how your pikemen crushed the puny soldiers on the other side.

Kingory is a game of conquest, for sure, but it seems like a good candidate for forming alliances with some friends, spending an afternoon making a few clicks and watching what happens, and stroking your chin as you try and imagine the best procedures to use to murder your poor neighbors.

But the question I know everyone will ask is: can you buy your way to the top?

Like I pointed out, according to the players I talked to, you cannot. No amount of money can push past certain limits in the game. But, again, we need to be honest and say that if I spent one hundred dollars I would be able to get to a much more comfortable point much quicker than my buddy that spent nothing. Does this translate to money = power? Sort of. Is this a bad thing? Only if you are uncomfortable with that. For me, I love it. I love the fact that some games are not afraid to ask you for your cash, and in return give you some pretty cool things. At the bottom left of your screen as you play flash certain world wide messages like "For help, go here..." or "You can now customize your forum icons.." but one of the messages also says "Kingory on a dollar a day..." with a link that, from what I gather, will show you how you can spend 30 bucks and get a nice package of goodies.

Is there something wrong with that? Not in my book. In this market there are enough games that reward great amounts of time doing the same thing over and over. I can point to any number of hugely popular North American releases and to the massive grinds that some players go through to get one piece of equipment. I like the fact that games like Kingory say "Don't want to grind? That's fine, hand over some cash." There's an honesty in that, if you ask me. And let's face it, there are financial advantages in every game out there.

Overall, Kingory is not so different than many browser based games. You build a building, you train your troops, you make friends and try and conquer enemies. But the quests system, the cash shop, the heroes and unique turn-based combat make for a fun experience. If you want to spend 30 dollars, go for it. I would be tempted to, but for now I think I'll just try to keep my citizens happy. Glory can wait a little longer.
This article was originally published on Massively.