A flawed gem
We've all played them before. Those rare games that manage to be all of unique, challenging, funny, interesting, rewarding, and endearing, yet still have their glaring issues. You know, the flawed gems of the world. Little King's Story is a textbook example of such a product, as its clever gameplay mechanics and colorful presentation are frequently at odds with some middling design issues. Fortunately, the good far outweighs the bad, making Little King's Story a game that I can easily recommend to anyone but the most selective gamers.
The basic gameplay of Little King's Story is reminiscent of titles such as Pikmin or Overlord. You interact with the world via your loyal citizens, who can hold any number of jobs such as knights, farmers, or carpenters- all of which have their own capabilities. The large array of jobs is great, and has enough variety to keep things interesting for the game's duration. Questing and finding loot is also satisfying, as you get to spend your hard earned gold on all sorts of upgrades. The most prominent of these is expanding your kingdom to acquire more jobs and citizens, which can be quite addicting. The real heart and soul of the gameplay, however, is when it comes time to take over the other rival kingdoms of the world. These segments are super exciting (as well as challenging), and culminate in some awesomely over-the-top boss encounters. All the bosses are entertaining characters, and come with an astonishing amount of variety. They're clearly the main focus in Little King's Story, and bring every part of the game together in some definitive moments.
All told, Little King's Story really has the basic formula down- the whole process of expanding your kingdom and conquering the world is just a blast. That being said, there are some glaring issues to be found. The pacing isn't as smooth as it could be, as most of the expanding is done in the first half of the game, while many of the bosses are relegated to the second half. It feels like things could have been more equally distributed. Also, the side quests get pretty repetitive, and there are some interface problems- most notably in the pathfinding department. These things are unfortunate, but thankfully they don't ruin the game either. Perhaps that's because the game is just so damn charming. Everything has an upbeat, colorful feel to it, with the visuals and audio really holding their own in every moment. Yet beneath the childish coating you'll find a surprisingly interesting and mature narrative. There's plenty of dark humor and social commentary, and it all compliments the complex gameplay nicely to provide a uniquely memorable experience.
I could sit here and talk about the ins and outs of Little King's Story all day, but this is one of those games that's better defined by its intangibles. This is a game that is in some quirky way lighthearted, simple, heavy, and complex all at the same time. Even with its flaws, Little King's Story is an incredibly endearing gem, and one that will stay with me for many years- well after many of its contemporaries have found their way into the bargain bin.
For additional information on my review style and scoring system, click here.