Shadow Kings: Dark Ages Review
6 Overall Score
Looks great, very casual and easy to play
Almost identical to their other game, Empire
We recently took some time out to have a first look at Shadow Kings: Dark Ages, the new browser-based city building/Empire management free to play MMO from Goodgame Studios, set in a classic mediaeval themed the general premise is players building up their own fortified keep in order to do battle with the Shadow Orc AI and other enemies, though the bulk of gameplay revolves around later game PvP. Signing up to the game was a simple process of entering our email, username and password and hitting submit which instantly log does into the game to start playing, as ever, we were guided through the basics of gameplay with the tutorial and big arrows telling us what to push and when as we were baby stepped through the initial stages.
There are a wide variety of buildings and military units for players to create, each requiring different variations of the four available resources: gold, wood, stone and food, buildings generally take up wood and stone for their initial build and upgrades, military units use food every hour and gold is used for practically every build. Players also have access to a fifth premium gems resource that they can earn as they level up or purchase with real-world currency, this is used to speed up progress of construction or purchase unique items that are a premium currency only purchases.
Gameplay is extremely basic, easy to pick up for those players that don’t want something to taxing thought required to thought, casual, by nature with build queues, construction waiting times and long journeys when attacking distant locations the game is ideal for those players that want to switch back and forth between playing it and doing something else in the meantime. If players get stuck for something to do there are constantly quests been thrown at you to build this, kill that, buy the other, and each time you gain XP and other rewards to help your fledgling city out.
The game pretty much stays the same as you level up, the only difference being that you unlock more buildings and units as well as some features to give you more options, though whether producing a building or a unit the game is essentially a resource management MMO where you must prioritise what to construct, particularly in late game where you may have multiple players attacking you at any one time whilst you try to eke out your own Empire.
Combat is relatively simple, whether attacking an AI encampment or a rival players city, you are able to choose the forces that you send to attack with an accompaniment of battering rams and catapults, choosing whether to attack from the front or the cities two flanks, and after each battle there is a battle report to update you on your progress. New players have a 24-hour grace period where they cannot be attacked unless they choose to let down the magical spell that protects their city, in order for them to attack someone else. We took full advantage of this and attacked a player that removed their spell, only we got absolutely crushed as the time it to for our warriors to arrive (even though they were the closest player city to us) they had already produced double the number of units that we had sent out; it was still fun though.
The game doesn't really score any points for innovation, Goodgame Studios already having the extremely similar Goodgame Empire title under its belt, graphics are different, the GUI is tweaked a little, but in general it is pretty much exactly the same game. That said, whilst it may be the same as one of the previous total it is still quite a fun game and it does look pretty good, though there is a slight mix in the graphical styles in areas, but that’s more of a personal preference. Interactivity and communication with other players seems easy, the menus are sleek and concise and even without the tutorial it will be too difficult for players to quickly understand what to do and where to go.
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