Of Gnolls and Stickmen: Kingdom of Loathing Reviewed
Have you ever played a game that exuded charm and polish, despite being pretty simple at its core? A game that was more fun than it had any right to be?
Kingdom of Loathing, brough to you by the folks at Asymmetric Productions, is just that type of game. And I'll be darned if it isn't the most addictive casual game.
When I reviewed EVE Online, I described it as an "Anarcho-Capitalist community simulator in space". Well, if EVE Online is pure Anarcho-Capitalism, then Kingdom of Loathing must be the very essence of Internet and Pop Culture mashed together into something that can only be described as Zork mixed with Diablo mixed with Spiral Knights. And the crazy thing is, it works.
The Most Basic WoW Clone
The game plays like any other MMO, albeit less interactively. You choose where to go, kill stuff while there, and maybe complete some quests with relatively puzzles. it doesn't sound too much fun, does it? It wouldn't be, not by itself. But coupled with some good writing describing your actions (you'll have some pretty good hearty laughs playing this game), an amazing community, and a stellar market system as well as a shining example of the F2P model, the game is actually a really great MMO.
Starting with The Bad
No, it doesn't have sound. No, it doesn't have anything beyond stick figures as graphics. And yes, some pedants out there might insist the fact that it's browser-based makes it automatically low-quality. But you can really tell the game is polished. Every cheesy joke, every pun, every stickman that pops into your screen, it's all done tastefully and on purpose. But, sadly, a lot of people don't get past the shock of "stick figures!" And they're missing out.
If there's one legitimately bad thing about this game it's the Adventure Limit. I compared it to Spiral Knights for a reason. And it's not a good one. The game has a limit to the amount of "Adventures" you can do in a day. I can see why it was put in place (don't want the player to become exhausted from playing too much), but the limit is way too low and there aren't a whole lot of ways to raise it besides eating certain foods. And even then, it isn't raised by much.
Over to The Good
It's because the game is so simple that it manages to be so fun.
A full 3D MMO with two zones isn't very fun. But a 2D MMO with tons more zones is. The game's "low quality" presentation is a redeeming trait when it's time for the developer(s) to focus on creating content. He (they?) can safely spend more time coding and writing instead of attempting to depict the content in its full glory using some fancy 3D modelling program, which might take months for a small team.
Besides, the simple graphics help the imagination. They're goofy and light-hearted, which fits the atmosphere of the game very well. It's a nice break from the monotone fantasy environments in today's MMO sphere. If the game isn't going to take itself seriously, then why should the graphics do so?
I can open my own shop in a mall and sell my loot from adventures. I can go on hundreds of different quests with new ones added regularly. There's tons of replayability and customization for every single class. You can craft a bunch of items. And when you "complete" your ultimate quest you can be reborn as a whole new class. I say, if it lets you create more engaging content, the graphics could be ASCII for all I care!
Best of all, the F2P model in place is great. You can buy a certain item every month. But the item doesn't have any huge, overpowered benefits, it's just a cute item that makes you feel good about yourself.
The game is fun, engaging, addictive, it can be played in quick bursts. And best of all, it can be played 100% free. You'd be a fool not to try it.