The Kingdom series has a storied past, from its early browser based days to the recent much praised Two Crowns, and has steadily built on the mix of gameplay honed over the years. Eighties then is a standalone DLC, not a replacement for, Two Crowns which looks to streamline the experience with more of a story focus and another new era to sample. Worth a look? Lets find out.
You take on the role of a young camp counsellor, known as The Leader, who will have to gather together other kids to defend their town and family from the relentless attack of the mysterious Greed. It’s not known where they came from or what these monsters are, but why are they trying to steal The Leaders family legacy, the Crown of Creation? All will be revealed if you can survive the night.
You’ll find plenty of nods to previous games, as well as 80’s Easter eggs, so series fans will get more than expected from the story. The characters themselves generally have a little more depth than you’d expect from their stereotypical outlook. What some may not appreciate though is the lack of co-op, its just single player only this time and you can be done with it all in 5-10 hours depending on difficulty. There’s also only 4 stages too, but they are at least quite different in their design.
Probably the highlight of the game for me, and I’m not even one for the whole pixel art style usually. Sure the pixels are chunky, but everything has a punchy look to it and there’s more than enough detail to not get lost at a glance. Most stages are also featured along a waterfront, which means some superb reflections of everything that transpires. The stages are set a bit back from the edge of the screen to make the most of this, and extends even further back as well for some nice distance detail.
The game lacks voice-overs for the story delivery this time, a bit of a downer as they can fly by sometimes, but the soundtrack picks up the slack. It could be used more often, but what is there carries those 80’s vibes. Performance is light as expected, 4K/120 a breeze on my system (R7 5800X/32GB/RTX 3090) as it didn’t break a sweat aside from the odd drop here and there which was likely due to loading etc instead. The verified Steamdeck profile means you can even enjoy it on the go without any problems.
Having been away from the series for a while this actually felt really easy to slip back in to, due in no small part to the streamlined gameplay compared to the fully fledged releases. You’ll pretty much spend your time riding up and down the stages collecting coins for the coffers, sending the kids off on jobs is the quickest way to build up reserves, and then spending that on your defences. This can be walls or kids to combat the Greed, but don’t forget workers and the like to help make construction quicker and earn cash in other ways – running out can leave you slogging a few days if work & jobs is neglected.
Cash is also used to upgrade your buildings, be it for more workers or even the main building itself to get you upgrades. Your starting bike is fine but it can be swapped out for other mounts or upgraded as you go along. This all has to take place during the day, as once night falls, the Greed come out to test what you’ve built. All your minions retreat behind the walls and archers, so no work or gold to be earned and you have to hope you’ve managed the upgrades well to survive the night. The other characters (Champ, Tinkerer & Wiz) have some special abilities to help you out too, but success mainly falls on your management during the day.
As a standalone DLC, Kingdom Eighties is a cheap & cheerful entry for the popular series. The story and presentation will please fans of the series, as well as a whole new era to play, but the streamlined gameplay and short runtime may put some off. These two aspects do serve another purpose, one that makes this game perfect for newcomers to get a taste of what the series has to offer, and at the low price of entry under £10, will serve that purpose well.
Perfect for newcomers but may leave series veterans wanting.