A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Players will use resources to practice time management and prioritization of tasks. Positive behaviors, in this case meaning solving puzzles and growing a productive society, lead to rewards such as increased access to resources or stronger defense systems. Though the title contains fantasy violence, players are primarily asked to protect their kingdom rather than start fights against enemies.
Positive Role Models
There's no dialogue in-game, and though players are encouraged to rule their kingdoms and take care of their own people, this behavior isn't modeled by any non-player characters.
The player character's appearance is randomly generated, and there are many non-white presenting options. While in a loading screen, players can use the down arrow key to change their sprite's appearance until their save file finishes loading. The sprite's gender presentation is random as well, though they do stick to a king/queen (so presumably male/female) option.
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Ease of Play
The entire game is played using only the left, right, and down arrow keys, which is extremely beginner-friendly. In addition, players can choose when they want to travel to the next island, which increases the game's difficulty. While most of the building mechanics turn out to be simple, Kingdom: Two Crowns rarely tells the player what they need to do next. This can be a challenge, but it's a fun one that pays off in the long-term campaign.
Violence & Scariness
Players will have access to villagers with weapons such as arrows and spears. These weapons are used for hunting as well as enemy combat. There are no blood effects, and all enemies are faceless creatures that don't resemble people.
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Products & Purchases
The base game of Kingdom: Two Crowns is available for $19.99. The "Norse Lands" downloadable content package does require a separate purchase, but the pack isn't advertised in-game and players can' complete their purchase in-game.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kingdom: Two Crowns is a downloadable strategy game available for Xbox One, Windows, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4. This is a resource management/strategy game, where players travel across a side-scrolling world and expand the borders of their kingdom by cutting down trees, recruiting villagers, upgrading buildings, and fighting mysterious enemies known only as “The Greed.” While the Norse Lands DLC is sold separately, the only difference between that pack and the original game is that the DLC takes place in a new "biome." This means that the characters/enemies/buildings appear different, but most of the gameplay mechanics are the same. There are even a few modified game modes, called "challenge islands" available as part of the base game, in addition to a Japanese-inspired biome much like the Norse Lands pack.
Is It Any Good?
Strategy games that ask players to manage multiple resources can feel complicated and hectic, but this title feels meditative while still remaining engaging. There's room to breathe in Kingdom: Two Crowns -- Norse Lands, meaning that it's easier to focus on obtaining permanent upgrades than in similar titles, instead of making the player feel the need to constantly rush between the kingdom's opposite outer walls to make sure they are intact. There's also little-to-no instruction as to how to progress, and while this is usually a source of frustration for many, Norse Lands makes this choice feel fun and intentional by always telling players if they can interact with an item. This places the responsibility on the player to watch what happens to their kingdom after they interact with a new item, as opposed to leaving players with no hints as to what to do next.
Difficulty scaling is also up to the player to control, and this reacts well with the calculated risks players must take in traveling to the next level. If a player is defeated, which occurs when an enemy attacks and steals the monarch's crown, players are sent back to island #1 with a new sprite acting as monarch, called a new "heir" in-game. Some upgrades do end up being permanent, but many others will reset with every new heir, and players learn through trial and error when and how to travel across the lands outside their kingdom's walls to avoid attacks. Nothing in Norse lands feels revolutionary, but it's small touches like the slightly more relaxed pace and astoundingly simple controls that make it fill a unique slot within the side-scrolling strategy genre. It applies a seemingly simple formula, but in practice, this is a title that has appeal for all types of players, including those of a very wide age and experience range.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.