I’ll be a wee bit honest, I never expected that a build-em-up free-to-play strategy game like Rival Kingdoms would have me hooked.
In a scene popularised by the likes of Tribal Wars and other such games where buildings take hours (or even days) to construct, that time constraint was a bit off-putting to me as I preferred to not have limitations if I fancied a longer game session on something.
Rival Kingdoms still has those limitations, as it tempts you with in-app purchases to buy diamonds that can speed up construction. Yet, for the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself diving back in to the game almost every evening to check on the defence of my village to send my troops out on raids.
So how did it manage to reel me in?
Point one goes down to the surprising depth and polish of the attacking mode of the game. In the story mode and in the asynchronous multiplayer mode, you send your troops to destroy your enemy’s village. Success comes when the Stronghold, or main HQ, is destroyed. Defences and other buildings usually get in the way, and its careful placement of troops that will ensure success. Furthermore, the power of the Ancients also grants you spells to use which can help turn the tide of battle.
Ancients are powerful assistants which can be levelled up individually and each have a set of three spells. Primus is the currency in which upgrades can be made, which can be obtained through treasure chests that can be won or bought.
In each battle, I found myself carefully studying the enemy stronghold to exploit any potential weak spots in their defences. Doing so was incredibly satisfying, especially when successfully destroying every building in a village. Glorious.
The game looks great in doing so too, with troops running around the map and smashing anything and everything in sight. Buildings and maps are really well drawn too, bringing all this together to score a second point for the game thanks to its looks.
Point three comes from the free-to-play structure that they’ve created. In most similar games that I’ve played, the pay-wall makes itself bleedingly obvious at the earliest instant. In Rival Kingdoms, it felt more like a steep hill at first that plateaued out the higher you climbed.
Those looking for a shortcut will be happy to pay I guess, although once I established a good village I found the natural economy allowing me to dip in for a few minutes after a hard day’s work at the office. I may decide to use some Battle Stones to play in the multiplayer or I’ll nurture my village a wee bit.
That ‘few minutes’ is crucial to managing your expectations with a game like Rival Kingdoms. It’s not one you’ll play for an hour at a time. Rather, it’s purpose-built for folks to nose at their village for a couple of minutes at most. If you bear this in mind, then I reckon that you’ll find Rival Kingdoms to be a rather enjoyable wee free-to-play game.
Space Ape Games provided GGS with in-game currency to examine the game