Kingsway is a game about immersing you in its many strange layers and then surprising you at every turn. It’s a game that you’re much better off going into blind, so I’ll recommend that you go give it a shot without continuing past this paragraph. In short, it’s a game full of surprises and quick decisions, all in the aesthetic of an old school, text-based fantasy adventure.
Now let’s get to the good stuff.
Oh, you’re still here? You really should go give it a shot. But if you insist, keep on going.
You start off by making your character with a class like mage, rogue, warrior, that kind of thing. Then you’re tossed onto a desktop full of options to click around on. After a bit you might notice that the game is surprisingly quiet until you check out the music tab and minimize the playlist. The menu is just as much of a game as the actual adventure itself, and it doesn’t take long to figure out just what exactly sets Kingsway apart.
Once you click where you choose to go on the map, you’re free to explore whatever you find. Maybe you’ll enter house to loot for treasure before being ambushed by a skeleton, or maybe you’ll come across a dungeon with creatures who have the power to take control of your menus.
When a combat scenario does happen, the reflexive tried-and-true button mashing is a no-go. The enemy’s menu screen floats around and you’re forced to keep up with it and keep clicking on whatever attack or spell or item you need to survive. One encounter left me clicking back and forth between menus as a spellcaster summoned skeletons to fight me on different screens entirely! It’s a very strange concept to grasp, but as I mentioned in the title, it really gave me the feeling of putting out fires in multiple rooms of FTL as I sent another crew aboard a ship to take down whatever started the blaze. For a seemingly simple RPG, Kingsway requires a level of attention and agility that other games of this style simply never ask for.
I’m very early in my second run of Kingsway. My first ended quickly as I didn’t understand the importance of gearing up before facing an onslaught of brutal skeletons. This seems, again like FTL, like a game that I’ll keep dumping time into as I come up with better and better strategies as I aim for The Perfect Run.
If you’re a fan of learning a new set of rules on the fly and enjoy setting monsters on fire, check out Kingsway on its Steam page.