Distant Kingdoms Review – Fantasy Strategy RPG City-Builder in Test

Distant Kingdoms offers city building in a fantasy realm, very close to Anno, but with hero parties, dungeons, orcs, elves, and dwarves.

Distant Kingdoms Review
Fantasy Strategy RPG City-Builder in Test
Distant Kingdoms Review
Fantasy Strategy RPG City-Builder in Test

With a mix of city-builder and light fantasy RPG parts, Distant Kingdoms is already special. We build a city for elves, orcs, dwarves and humans, very similar to Anno, and send out groups of heroes to explore the area, go on adventures and explore dungeons. In this Distant Kingdoms review you’ll get all the info about the new fantasy building strategy game with city builder elements, RPG heroes and adventures.


German Version:

This article is available here as text, but also as a YouTube video (German voice-over, many subtitles). This way you can choose how you would like to enjoy it most.

Distant Kingdoms Review Video

German Voice-Over, many subtitles

Distant Kingdoms Review – Intro

Hi there, this is the Zap. In this Distant Kingdoms review, you get a little preview of the new build-up strategy game with a mix of city builder and light fantasy RPG parts, which recently was released in Early Access on Steam. I’ll tell you how it works, what’s in it and at the end, you’ll get a rating from me. But most of all, I want to give you all the info, so you can decide for yourself if you might enjoy the game.

Distant Kingdoms is developed by Orthrus Studios and published by Kasedo Games. I received a free trial key, my thanks for that. However, this should have no bearing on my review, as I always test all games with the thought in the back of my mind, how would I feel if I had paid full price.

Distant Kingdoms Review
Background and Story
Distant Kingdoms Review
Background and Story

Background – Story

In Distant Kingdoms, the four races of elves, dwarves, humans, and orcs have waged war against each other for ages. At some point, their gods got fed up and sent them to the distant land of Inerion to start over from scratch together.

Now they are dependent on each other and must band together to survive in their new homeland.

So they are to establish a faraway land, a Distant Kingdom. This is how the story begins and this explains why elves, dwarves, humans, and orcs (have to) live together in one city. Otherwise, there is unfortunately not much more story in the game so far, whether there is more to come later remains to be seen.

Distant Kingdoms Test – Game Type – Fantasy Buildup Strategy & City Builder like Anno

Distant Kingdoms Test
Game Type City Builder Fantasy RPG Strategy
Distant Kingdoms Test
Game Type City Builder Fantasy RPG Strategy

Distant Kingdoms is essentially a classic build-up strategy game, very similar to the early Anno parts. We have a freely rotatable and zoomable map, of which we can initially only build on a limited section. We get a small supply of resources and start with a warehouse, marketplace and a few residential buildings.

Slowly we unlock different workshops like berry pickers, lumberjacks, stone cutters, and farms. This is done through a research and technology tree, where we activate many more buildings, techniques, and resources by meeting certain requirements of inhabitants, a number of dwellings, or the like.

The construction of the buildings requires a close look at the treasury, because each building costs money and this is faster exhausted than the dwarf can grumble “Long Ear”. On top of that, the display for income and expenses is unfortunately not very user-friendly at the moment. So here you have to manage carefully and build with caution, so you won’t go broke right at the beginning.

Thus we expand our village and our inhabitants can ascend over time in up to three levels. These unlock, similar to Anno, other needs for higher-value goods, but also the right to construct the appropriate buildings.

A whole new idea in the gameplay is then offered in the tavern of our village. Because there we can hire a party of heroes, which we can then send out on explorations in the surrounding area. This is how we uncover the map divided into hex fields.

In doing so, our heroes can gain experience and advance in levels. The heroines and heroes belong to the four races, and each expedition member has abilities and traits, which also become more as the level increases.

These skills are then also soon needed to overcome random encounters on the exploration journeys or later to explore dungeons. Both take place in a kind of text adventure. A short description explains what is happening or what problems our hero group has to face.

Here we mostly have the choice between two options, which correspond to certain skills, but which our group must have in order to be able to use the respective option at all. An action point system additionally ensures that we have to use at least some brainpower to complete the task successfully, and of course the adventure can go terribly wrong.

With this adventure system, we gradually expand our range on the map and the building area for our village, and also develop new resource deposits.

Distant Kingdoms Test – Tech, Graphics, Sound, Engine, Voice-Over, Music

Distant Kingdoms Game
Tech, Graphics, Sound, Engine, Voice-Over, Music
Distant Kingdoms Game
Tech, Graphics, Sound, Engine, Voice-Over, Music

Distant Kingdoms is developed in the Unity engine, this ensures a largely stable base. The proven graphics engine also provides a certain basic standard of visual quality.

The game’s 3D graphics are in the mediocre quality range, at times the game can look gorgeous, but it still skimps a bit on the animations. Enjoying watching the little workers at work, as in many others of these scurry building games, is something you can’t do here yet.

You only see the building, which is slightly animated. Occasionally a chimney smokes here, or the sawmill shows how a board is cut up, and there is also an animal running around in the cattle yard. But the variety is unfortunately not soo big so far.

I had expected different dwellings for the four races, but all look the same so far, only in the level the views differ, comparable to Anno. But over there are many house types per level, here currently only a single one so far.

Some buildings make sounds when they are on screen, but most of the time the game is very silent, except for the enjoyably dozy background music. Some building sounds are not really pleasant to the ear, some are too loud, some are too repetitive, etc. So the whole sound area is still a strong construction site so far.

Speech output is only available in the intro, none is included in the actual game. On-screen texts are currently only available in English. Even though many translations are planned, none of them are ready yet.

Distant Kingdoms Gameplay Screenshots InGame

Click or tap into the image for a larger view.
In the enlarged view, you can scroll right and left on the edges

Distant Kingdoms Test – Opinion and Conclusion

Distant Kingdoms Test
Opinion and Conclusion
Distant Kingdoms Test
Opinion and Conclusion

The game combines the well-known Anno system with a few ideas of its own. Here I see quite potential for a good game. Basically, the gameplay works, there is a certain amount of building fun. But it still feels a bit flat and lacking in variety to me. Or in short, the part that is meant to be like Anno works quite well so far but is somehow not even close to Anno yet in terms of simulation depth and gameplay fun.

The research tree is extensive and offers a few choice options, at first glance. But since almost all unlocks are based on “have amount X of house type Y” and “have amount Z inhabitants” and in the end, they all depend on each other again, they could just automatically unlock the buildings one by one and leave the research tree aside. This screen still feels cumbersome and somewhat unnecessary in its current form. It roughly gives an impression that progress happens via the quest system, but that’s rather superficial.

The four-races-concept is also an absolutely nice idea that excites me, in theory. But neither is it really used intensively so far, nor does it seem important enough. The differences between the races are too weak, and you can almost completely ignore them. Here I see a lot of possibilities to deepen the simulation, which are currently underused.

The hero parties and the exploration system are also both very promising features. But mostly we are only faced with the choice “A” or “B” and there is often only quite irrelevant text. A really interesting story is not yet told.

The heroes advance in levels, but we have no control over them at all. So character decisions don’t actually happen. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of untapped potentials here as well.

From time to time, role-playing flavored random events happen in the city, sometimes you get to make a decision between two options. But the effect is mostly minimal, this is still highly expandable.

What I find particularly unfortunate is that the city view seems kind of boring. Games like Anno, Settlers, or the recently tested by me Kingdoms Reborn, are especially appealing for their bustling houses with cute animations and their lovely simulated inhabitants. In those games a steady scurry of activity invites you to observe and follow residents around, watch them working at their workplaces, and most of the time you can see and observe the simulated processes visually as well.

In Distant Kingdoms, there are inhabitants running around on the streets, but their paths are just random and actually inconsequential. Only the carts are simulated halfway correctly. Taken halfway literally, because it is always shown only the way with goods, for the empty journey it is probably teleported. For me, unfortunately, the beloved scurry-building feeling does not seem to come up at the moment.

Distant Kingdoms Early Access – current scope and state of the game

Distant Kingdoms Early Access
current scope and state of the game
Distant Kingdoms Early Access
current scope and state of the game

I often test Early Access titles. Of course, you have to take into account that an Early Access game deliberately comes to the market as a work in progress and that you’re not dealing with a finished, polished game here. But almost always you can see at least roughly where the journey should go. Most of the time, at least 50% of the game’s content is already in the game, so you can get a feeling for what might await you in the finished game.

Orthrus Studios and Kasedo Games have now decided for Distant Kingdoms to put the game on sale already, even though it feels like it is only 30% finished. This is where I get a bit of a bellyache, especially since the price of €25 or $30 is simply not in the area of a small indie game either, but rather in the mid-price range. Sure there is a discount on this price at the moment, but is that enough?

As the biggest criticism for me at the moment then comes the scope of the game as it currently is. There is a nice tutorial, which is actually almost the closest to providing an impression of how the game might turn out, and which was probably also included in the recently available demo.

Since they are promoting the game as a fantasy game, it would be good to have at least one or two levels of the story campaign included, so you can get a feel for how the game is really meant to be. At least one campaign is actually planned as well, but apart from a disabled button in the menu, there’s, unfortunately, nothing to be seen of it so far.

In addition, there are two fixed scenarios to date, which, however, seem rather unfinished and empty compared to the tutorial. For one thing, playing through these scenarios now is only moderately exciting, as there are no mission objectives or goals.

On the other hand, its replay value is rather low, since part of the challenge is to match the city to the arrangement of resources on the map, and they are always placed in the same way. If the game had a random map generator, a lot would be gained here, but playing through the same two maps over and over again is unfortunately not much fun for a long time.

The developers have already published a kind of roadmap, in which they announce upcoming updates and new features, like new building animations, more maps, etc. But unfortunately, there is no time frame for this. How long players will have to wait for it is therefore not known.

Distant Kingdoms Roadmap
Distant Kingdoms Roadmap

On the horizon is mod support for units, buildings, and maps, hopefully also stories, dungeons, etc. Possibly this can be used to expand the game in the future by the community and grow it into a more long-term engaging game.

But in order to be able to build up a corresponding community in the first place, the game needs quite a bit more substance from the developer side, or as the saying goes “meat on the bones”. So far Distant Kingdoms is unfortunately only a carcass, in which the wind still drags and so one does not really like to move in it.

I really hope that the game in 3, 6, or 9 months will become truly great and then also worth its price. But you don’t have any use of that for now and there is no guarantee of that. Of course, Orthrus Studios can still massively expand the game, which they will hopefully do. Please keep that in mind when you read, listen or watch this review in a few months.

Distant Kingdoms Review – Rating

If I sum up the pros and cons of Distant Kingdoms now at the Early Access launch and try to complete the vision that the game conveys, I would give the game a base rating of 80%.

But since the game is still very far from this vision, both technically and in terms of the amount of game content, I’m deducting 10% from this at the moment. And for a nice, but still, very thin game to then set a target price of €25 or $30, leads to another 5% deduction.

This brings me to a final score for Distant Kingdoms in the Early Access launch version of only 65%, unfortunately.

Some of this can still be worked back out if the developers put in the effort. But whether that happens, only the future will have to show. And until then, I would only recommend the game to very experimental gamers who are immediately excited by the concept and want to support the project.

Distant Kingdoms Review
Rating with Numbers - 65 Percent
Distant Kingdoms Review
Rating with Numbers – 65 Percent

Distant Kingdoms

Zap from Zapzockt.de

Distant Kingdoms Review - Fantasy Strategie RPG City-Builder im Test
Distant Kingdoms offers city building in a fantasy realm, very close to Anno, but with hero parties, dungeons, orcs, elves, and dwarves.
With a mix of city-builder and light fantasy RPG parts, Distant Kingdoms is already special. We build a city for elves, orcs, dwarves, and humans, very similar to Anno, and send out groups of heroes to explore the area, go on adventures and explore dungeons.
Strategy
Simulation
Roleplay / RPG
Complexity
Graphics
Sound
Scope of the Game at Early Access Start
State of the Game at Early Access Start
Fun per Price Ratio

Rating

If I sum up the pros and cons of Distant Kingdoms now at the Early Access launch and try to complete the vision that the game conveys, I would give the game a base rating of 80%.

But since the game is still very far from this vision, both technically and in terms of the amount of game content, I’m deducting 10% from this at the moment. And for a nice, but still, very thin game to then set a target price of €25 or $30, leads to another 5% deduction.

This brings me to a final score for Distant Kingdoms in the Early Access launch version of only 65%, unfortunately.

Some of this can still be worked back out if the developers put in the effort. But whether that happens, only the future will have to show. And until then, I would only recommend the game to very experimental gamers who are immediately excited by the concept and want to support the project.

3.2

Outro

Do you like building cities and uniting orcs, dwarves and elves? Or are early access games and grid cities not your idea of fun? Feel free to write me your opinion in the comments or in the Community Discord.

More gaming news, game reviews and guides can be found on the YouTube channel or at https://zapzockt.de – thumbs click, subscribe and share with friends certainly can’t hurt, and then I wish you a great day, ciao ciao, your Zap

Buy Distant Kingdoms cheaper at Gamesplanet
(Affiliate Link / Ad)
Each qualified purchase through this link will earn me a small revenue share from the seller, and you will get a discount and save money in the process.

Distant Kingdoms Steampage

Distant Kingdoms Website

Distand Kingdoms Discord Server

Distant Kingdoms Twitter

Publisher Facebookpage

Publisher Instagram

Reading – recommendations:

A lot of detailed games news and information about games and gaming can always be found here at ZapZockt.de

There are also many game reviews that might interest you, and if you don’t want to miss anything, subscribe to the newsletter. As a Google News reader you can also go there and read the latest articles.

Shopping – Tip:

Ad / Affiliate Link
Games can often be bought cheaper. Legal, reliable and safe is the way to do it at my partner site Gamesplanet. This game, all DLCs, many more tactics, strategy, and many more titles are available there and almost always much cheaper than at Steam, Uplay, Epic or other shops.

Steam Keys günstig kaufen - Buy steam keys cheap - Game keys Spiele Keys
Buy games cheaper

For every purchase, via this link, I receive a small commission. So you get games cheaper and at the same time support my work, my thanks in advance for that.

Social Media:


Zap

Dirk "Zap" von ZapZockt.de, 40+ Gamer, zockt seit 1980 vor allem Strategie Titel, MMOs und Rollenspiele. Schreibt Game Reviews, Gaming News und auch mal über Technik, Hardware und YouTube. Mehr Infos findest Du unter Mehr über Zap lesen ◄----------► Dirk "Zap" from ZapZockt.de, 40+ gamer, has been gaming since 1980, mainly strategy titles, MMOs and RPGs. Writes game reviews, gaming news and also sometimes about technology, hardware and YouTube. Click here, if you want to read more about Zap.

You may also like...

scroll to top - nach oben