Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

A World of Keflings review: Community organizer


A World of Keflings is one of two things, I haven't made up my mind as to which. It's either a charming parable about the joys of working together to build a thriving community ... or a terrible warning about the dangers of modern industrialism. I'll go out on a limb and assume developer Ninjabee was probably shooting for the former, but it's up for interpretation.

The fundamentals haven't changed much since A Kingdom for Keflings. Your Avatar stands as a giant among the tiny Keflings, and it's your job to help them build their kingdom and, ultimately, a castle. To do this, you must gather resources, train your Keflings and construct various houses and workshops to produce the goods you'll need to build more advanced houses and workshops, and so forth.

For task-oriented thinkers, A World of Keflings may just be productivity poison.

Gallery: A World of Keflings | 4 Photos

A few very welcome changes have been made over the original Keflings. For one, buildings can now be moved after they are built. Previously, buildings had to be broken down to their essential components, which could then be moved to a new location -- kind of a hassle when you just need to scoot it over a few feet. Secondly, and much more importantly, players are given their own little team of builder Keflings. These Keflings will pick up construction pieces and follow players around, meaning it's no longer necessary to make several round trips between shops and the construction site. Furthermore, builder Keflings can even construct buildings for you, provided you've already created that type of building at least once.

These and other changes have made the act of building much simpler, which is a great thing considering that's what I spent most of my time doing. It's the essential drive of the entire game. Resources are harvested and taken to workshops where they can be converted into construction pieces. These can be used to create new buildings. Later on, more advanced buildings can convert resources into other resources which can be ... well, you get the idea.

Unlike most world builders -- Sim City, The Sims, etc. -- there is absolutely no conflict in A World of Keflings. Godzilla doesn't periodically arrive to destroy the wonders you've created. Keflings don't die if you forget to give them bathroom breaks. No, the hustle and bustle of the burgeoning kingdom will always continue unabated, its inhabitants skipping to the beat of the relentlessly upbeat music.

For task-oriented thinkers, it may just be productivity poison.

It's not exactly boom headshot material but if, like me, you can find enjoyment in creating and housing a sustainable population of sheep -- for wool, of course -- A World of Keflings has a lot to offer. It doesn't offer the intangible thrills of say, Mass Effect, but there's no denying the steady dopamine drip of sweet accomplishment. Like so many of its economy-driven simulation brethren, the pull of "just one more thing" is tough to resist.

That said, it's probably best limited to short play sessions, because even though I found myself driven to keep playing, there was a moment when I began to wonder why. The creation of the kingdom is satisfying, though I'm not prepared to say it's always fun, and without any conflict it certainly isn't challenging. It's worth noting, however, that these factors -- alongside local and online co-op modes -- make it ideal as a family title.

As a palate cleanser, A World of Keflings certainly does the trick, though you may feel your sanity begin to ebb after extended sessions. At the end of my game, for example, I created a roving band of lumberjacks and began felling every single tree in the kingdom. It's not that I needed the wood; I was just tired of looking at the trees. Nearly eight straight hours of kingdom building can do that to you. So, take breaks. That's all I'm saying.

This review is based on the full version of A World of Keflings provided by Microsoft. A World of Keflings is available now for $10 on XBLA.

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr