KINGDOM of the DEAD (PC) Review

By Athanasios 31.03.2022

Review for KINGDOM of the DEAD on PC

Much to this critic's delight, one more game has been thrown into the ever-growing pile of retro-inspired first-person shooters. KINGDOM of the DEAD is a love letter to the age where the FPS first became famous, with the action being fast and easy to learn in a matter of minutes. In order to stand out, DIRIGO GAMES uses a striking art style, with hand drawn textures for its undead and demonic bestiary, as well as its 19th century flavoured locales, which range from mansions and crypts, and everything in between. Sadly, while pretty, and relatively fun, the package as a whole is somewhat underwhelming.

Those who have a deep love for Doom (the very first one), and Lovecraftian horror, should be happy for the existence of KINGDOM of the DEAD. It's basically Doom, but the action takes place inside 19th-esque century dark mansions, enormous cemeteries, ancient crypts and so on. The action is super-fast, with nothing complicated in terms of mechanics, and the enemies are mostly copies of Doom's monsters, with zombies, flying meatballs that spit fire, large demons that run towards you, and so on and forth. You should be happy, for this, but it's actually a bit hard, as there's something missing here.

First of all, the gunplay lacks the necessary "bite." Whether you decapitate an undead with a sword, or shoot your pistol, shotgun, rifle, or even throw a bundle of dynamite, it all feels weaker than a slap. There's no "weight" attached to it all, something that has a lot to do with the impact of the shots, but the sound effects as well. It also doesn't help that the game doesn't ever force you to fight for your life. Most areas are quite spacey, and the enemies aren't really that fast, so one can simply run past everything apart from the two/three boss encounters that are scattered around. In fact, doing so lets you conserve ammo for these big guys.

Screenshot for KINGDOM of the DEAD on PC

Choosing to stay and slay everything, however, makes it obvious that this hasn't been thoroughly tested, as the balance is a bit off, with shotgun blasts often not managing to kill a weak foe in one shot as they are supposed to. In fact, using the simple pistol to headshot the undead turns out to be the better solution. The second problem is that KINGDOM of the DEAD is extremely repetitive. Doom had simple gameplay and simplistic AI too, but the level design was such that it didn't matter. Here maps are giant rooms with no clever traps or labyrinthine corridors, and every stage follows the same pattern. First come the zombies, then some shotgunners and fireball-spitting wizards, then some larger beasts, then the boss. Each and every time.

Without a single doubt, the reason why a couple of heads turned towards this small indie, is its look. That's the only thing that this does really, really good, despite some flows, which are to be expected from a budget release. KINGDOM of the DEAD used a hand-drawn monochrome textures, with the whole thing looking like a gothic, black and white sketch. It's very appealing, and while there are moments where you can't see what's up ahead very well (especially while running at 100 km/h), most of the time there are a couple of small but clever details that help, like the glowing eyes of the monsters, the lighting, or the occasional burst of colour, usually in the form of a pool of bright-red blood.

Generally, this nails the "Corny '50s horror flick" vibe it was going on for, with the creepy/bizarre synth OST, which feels as if it came straight from a slasher from the '80s, being the final cherry on top. It would also be a lie to say that this was a bad experience. It just that it doesn't really manage to leave much of an impact. It's a nice, proof of concept kind of deal. Acceptable for an Early Access title, or an alpha build whose aim is to gather more money for a Kickstarter project. As is, it's a charming, but otherwise mediocre homage to old-school first-person shooters the likes of Doom and Blood.

Screenshot for KINGDOM of the DEAD on PC

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

KINGDOM of the DEAD is nice. Sadly, that's all there is to say about it. Putting the neat "ink & paper" art style and unique synth OST aside, what's left is a way too simplistic love letter to mid '90s FPS games that just doesn't manage to impress in any way. Fun, but it's the one evening kind of fun.

Developer

DIRIGO GAMES

Publisher

HOOK

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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