Next Fest: The Power Of Artistic Expression

I’m going to talk about Kingdom of the Dead.

Next Fest is upon us, and that means telling yourself you’re totally going to get through a bunch of the hundreds of game demos only available for a short period of time, followed by downloading half a dozen and playing one or two of those. But I want to make the most of these games so I decided to farm them for some content. I mean make constructive commentary about the gaming industry.

Nailed it. I want to talk about Kingdom of the Dead and indie development.

Kingdom of the Dead is an upcoming first person shooter and the latest game added to my wish list. The product of one person, Kingdom of the Dead is a fine example of how a cohesive game design and a clear passion for the medium can generally overcome the limitations of indie development. Kingdom of the Dead is a damn good looking game.

Now obviously KotD is not a movie-grade AAA game with photorealism and 4K textures, but the visual style is enough to catch a viewer’s attention and bring them in to see more. The visual style lends an atmosphere that makes the game more alluring, the demo obviously being a zero risk chance to check out what it has to offer, and overall the presentation right off the bat puts this game at an advantage over other indie shooters.

And it got me thinking; had the developer gone with Synty Studios assets for example, would I have even bothered downloading the demo? And the answer is probably not. Compare that to this game Solo Royale, which looks like absolutely uninspired garbage. Crappy default user interface, terrible store-bought assets, an awful premise, and just lazily uninspired all around. Am I saying that Solo Royale didn’t have any work put into it? No. But there are a million crappy shooters on Steam, and many developers still don’t comprehend the futility of releasing a game on a saturated store that many won’t give a second glance to.

Getting people’s interest is the first step to bringing them into the game, and for Kingdom of the Dead that means coming into a pretty solid shooter. Movement is quick and responsive and your character feels like they carry momentum and weight with every sprint and jump. Shooting is simple and responsive, although I’m not a fan of relegating alternate fires to the R key. Enemies walk and move in a very simple style that you’ll recognize if you played indie Unity engine shooters before.

You can shoot off the heads of enemies, which as you’d expect is the most effective way of dispatching them. You can also blow off their arms, disarming them (ha ha) in the process. If you shoot off both enemy’s arms they just run up and glare at you. In a normal game this might seem amateurish, but with the atmosphere put forward in Kingdom of the Dead, it’s damn creepy.

It seems to be an obvious limit to the demo, where the command is being sent to attack but there’s no associated weapons to actually process the command. Also I can hear the swoosh of what should be a sword swinging but without the actual attack to back it up. The attempt to attack should be fixed, but I think them getting right in your face should remain in the full game.

The stare of infinite evil piercing your soul and leaving no mistake of their burning hatred toward you.

There’s a few gripes I have with Kingdom of the Dead that others have pointed out as well, namely the boss dies far too quickly. But considering this is a temporary Next Fest demo and I generally expect those to have less polish than an official, permanent demo, there’s plenty of time for the developer to gather feedback and incorporate it into the full game.

Check out Kingdom of the Dead on Steam, or the armless demon will stare at you uncomfortably.

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