Be a King: Golden Empire is decent, but ultimately a little disappointing

It is the Middle Ages, people are starving, and previously glorious cities and villages lie in ruins. That is the simple but endearing premise of Be A King: Golden Empire, the newest part of a series by developer Rake In Grass. This series is definitely improving, but still misses the mark in a few respects.

Be A King: Golden Empire features 31 levels, and the player can choose between three degrees of difficulty, namely casual, normal and challenge. You’re able to finish any level with gold, silver and bronze trophies, depending on how many (game) days you need to complete it. There are some achievements to earn too, but all those bonus perks do not change the fact that the game is over pretty quickly, even including replaying levels to beat all of them with a gold trophy. For non-perfectionists one play-through will probably only take around two to three hours.

Your basic tasks in Be A King: Golden Empire always involve establishing a promising structure for a new city. This means you have to create housing for citizens as well as make them feel safe and happy. To do this you also have to produce a good amount of wood and stone, which are the only resources you need besides gold. Materials can be either purchased from the town hall or be produced at lumber mills and stone mines.

Depending on your goal, you will then concentrate on creating a city that is either very profitable, productive, or strong. To earn taxes and make stores and inns profitable you certainly need citizens, and those citizens will only move to your new city when you provide comfortable houses (three different types with three upgrades each), barracks and towers that assure safety, wells, libraries and fire houses to make them happy and farms, bakeries and mills to make sure that they don’t starve. To increase population you always have to make sure that the indicators for town capacity, food production, safety and happiness are high enough.

Information and menus are fortunately organised very well in Be A King: Golden Empire. From empty lots you can easily select any building, when you click a building all options are immediately available, and quests, level goals and your number of resources are all easily visible at the sides, top and bottom of the screen.

There are also special tasks in every level which appear as scrolls always entail optional side quests. Those require a hero to succeed in combats or certain resources to gain other advantages, such as cheaper buildings. Unfortunately, gone are some of the quests found in previous Be a King games, such as ruins and raider settlements, which actually makes the game a little less exciting.

Be A King: Golden Empire is a game with a rather slow pace, but it requires some strategic thinking. It offers even more buildings with different advantages than the predecessor, although the trader has been replaced by the store. From time to time monsters will attack from any direction and can be fought by both your heroes and defensive buildings such as mage towers or barracks. So, it’s always a daring challenge to decide which buildings to construct at what point in time to avoid danger and shortage in money or resources at the same time.

The two strongest downsides of Be A King: Golden Empire are the comparably short playing time and the severe lack of a detailed tutorial. While achievements, gold trophies and different grades of difficulty increase replayability, they don’t change the fact that the game basically only offers two, at most three hours of original playing time. Another missed opportunity is the lack of variety in level design. Most levels have very similar goals and as soon as you have discovered a working strategy, the game becomes much easier.

I had a really hard time giving Be A King: Golden Empire a rating. This sequel is definitely fun to play, and as ambitious as we are used to with this series, but the short playing time along with some fun features from past games that were strangely missing, the overall result is a bit disappointing. However, if you are the type of player who enjoys replaying levels for a better score and with a different grade of difficulty, you can easily add another star to our rating.