Rebuild a city in the clouds in the RPG/city-builder hybrid Flying Kingdoms
It’s not enough these days for a casual game to just do one thing well, so developers are increasingly trying to find ways to combine two genres and hoping that they end up with the gaming equivalent of a Reese’s peanut butter cup. Vostu’s latest attempt to find a winning recipe is Flying Kingdoms, which turns one part city-builder and two parts RPG into a tasty mix.
As the nameless hero of Flying Kingdoms, you’re tasked with restoring your homeland to some semblance of its former glory after magic has turned the king and many of his subjects to stone. While you are off questing – and perhaps discovering why the kingdom is on a floating island, giving the game its name – you’ve also got to manage things at home, literally rebuilding the town around your petrified liege.
The latter task is fairly simple, and accomplished in a manner taken directly from CityVille and others of its ilk. Gold can be spent on housing which produces more gold, or businesses, which can churn out useful items. There’s also farming (to ensure compliance with the rule that every social game must have farming!) to produce Supplies to keep the businesses humming.
Performing any action in your hometown costs Energy, which refills at a rate on one point every three minutes. All told, it’s pretty standard stuff, and wouldn’t be worth getting worked up about if it was a game unto itself.
Fortunately, you’re also having adventures in the great wide world at the same time, which is where Flying Kingdoms really shines. As you work on a solution to restore the statues to their humanity you’ll tackle quests of various types, including hunting down specific items and vanquishing evildoers. Vostu also did a nice job making the quests interlock and branch off in an organic way, as there are side quests and optional tasks to take on.
The city-building and adventuring also affect each other, as your town produces items that can help you in the field and vice versa. Switching back and forth between the two settings requires just one click, which is a nice touch. On the down side, all of your actions while questing require Mana, the away-from-home equivalent of Energy, and managing two similar resources isn’t a whole lot of fun.
Mana also serves as your pool of hit points when battling evil guards and wild beasts. That makes combat simple as long as you have enough Mana to withstand a few return blows, but unlike other recent genre-straddling games like Gangs of Boomtown, there’s actually a simple RPG leveling system in Flying Kingdoms that gives you some say in how your character develops. Skill points can be spent on increased attack, defense or treasure hunting abilities.
The animation is cutesy without looking like it ripped off the Zynga house style, and the writing is snappier than you might expect from a freemium title. And as long as we’re talking about the game’s economic model, this is a good place to throw in a thumbs down for the fact that Rubies, which serve as the premium currency, don’t accumulate as you level up. Unless you recruit some friends to help staff buildings and complete some of the more social-oriented quest objectives, you’re going to be paying some real life dineros for more Rubies at some point.
Your friends may actually join you in the world of Flying Kingdoms, though, because it’s not a bad place to visit. As the search for the perfect city-builder/RPG hybrid continues, this is certainly a step in the right direction.