In this simulation/strategy game, help a prince or princess prove their leadership in a medieval spin on the Westward series
If building your own kingdom were easy enough, everybody would be clearing land for their castles, rallying squads of chivalrous bodyguards and bossing around serfs from sun-up to sun-down. Unfortunately, building your own domain from scratch is no overnight task, as you’ll find out in Westward Kingdoms.
A departure from Sandlot’s successful Westward series, simulation games set in the American Old West, Westward Kingdoms allows you to assume the role of a spoiled prince or princess who must prove themselves to their father (the king) before they’re allowed to rule from sea to shining sea.
Throughout the game, you’ll recruit villagers, knights and other townspeople to construct buildings, harvest crops, dispatch barbarians, mill gold and more. You’ll employ each of your subjects in a different role—lumberjack, for example—and the longer they’re employed in that position, the more experience points they’ll earn, allowing them to level up to be more effective. You can dismiss subjects and have them start new jobs as you see fit. They’ll help you fulfill various tasks, like rescuing damsels and building houses for your employees (they’ll go on strike if they’re homeless too long).
It the same tried and true formula that Sandlot has used for previous Westward games, right down to many of the menus: there’s the on-screen inventory of items (like the lumber and gold your servants have gathered), as well as the mini map that allows for quick, easy navigation of the overworld. There’s a lot of info crammed into the menus, however, and it can seem a bit cluttered and overwhelming.
But if there’s one thing the game is filled with, it’s charm—one of the positive traits that’s carried over from the previous games. The cartoony characters are likable and deliver some pretty funny lines: “Odin’s beard, I need a tankard of mead;” “Now, were you here to be knighted, or beheaded?” The sound quality is a bit tinny, but it’s not a big distraction.
One gripe I have is the selection of a medieval theme. The Westward series has always been refreshing because so few games are set in the Old West. A medieval theme is predictable by comparison. Overall, though, the title balances playful zaniness with challenge juggling and unlocking that’ll be a familiar treat to Westward fans, and a delightful new discovery for newcomers to the series.