REVIEW: The Counting Kingdom

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

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The Counting Kingdom | oprainfall
Title The Counting Kingdom
Developer Little Worlds Interactive
Publisher Little Worlds Interactive
Release Date August 5, 2014
Genre Tower Defense, Educational
Platform PC, Mac
Age Rating N/A
Official Site

The Counting Kingdom is a game with a fairly simple premise; it intends to integrate math into a turn-based tower defense game. Yes, The Counting Kingdom is an educational game, which could put it at a disadvantage, considering there are a bit of negative connotations to educational games. Seeing as how games are typically seen as an escape from reality, one might be hesitant to play a game that reminds themselves of school of all things. Thankfully, I can say that The Counting Kingdom is a game that manages to execute its math-based premise in a way that makes the game enjoyable. However, the question that remains is whether or not it is enjoyable enough to be worth playing, which you will need to read on to find out.

The closest thing you have to a story in The Counting Kingdom is a cutscene at the beginning where your character sees monsters approaching the castle. So, naturally, it goes without saying that The Counting Kingdom is not about story. Graphics-wise, Counting Kingdom looks pretty basic, as well. The music is not bad, but not particularly memorable, either, but the sound effects are well placed and effective. However, the gameplay is the basket in which The Counting Kingdom has put all its eggs.

The Counting Kingdom | Intro

The main goal of the game is to keep the monsters from reaching your castle on the left side of the field. You, naturally, need to keep the monsters from reaching the castle by destroying them with a spell before they reach you. Each turn, they get to move one step closer and you get to cast one spell. To cast a spell, you need to select the monsters that you want to cast the spell on and trigger it by choosing a number that is equal to the sum of the number that the selected monsters are labeled with.

The further you get into the game, the more you will need to add up the numbers in your head and determine the most efficient ways of cutting down the opposing forces. There are also enemies with special special attributes, like increasing the numbers of surrounding monsters or panels that can double the number of whatever monster steps on it. Unfortunately, there are very few of these, and they have very little effect on how you play the game. One of the more efficient methods includes combining your current number cards to get a larger number, and casting a spell with that number to hit a larger group of enemies. Another one is to take advantage of the potions you are given, which have a variety of effects such as increasing or decreasing a monster’s number, moving a monster’s position on the field or outright destroying a row of monsters instantly.

The Counting Kingdom | Attack

One thing that The Counting Kingdom handles really nicely is how well it scales its difficulty. The further that one goes through the game, the more one will need to plan out larger addition problems in their head in order to take down enemies efficiently. Now, with me being way past the point in my life where addition was ever a problem, I managed to breeze through this game with little trouble. However, it was  still challenging enough to be engaging, and it is easy to see how this would be a harder game for younger children whose skills may not be as developed in that area. In that aspect, I can say that The Counting Kingdom succeeds in the educational part.

Unfortunately, there is one major issue that takes a lot of away from The Counting Kingdom as a game, that being the randomly-generated levels. While randomly-generated levels do sound interesting in theory, due to the idea of having the levels being different every time, there is a serious flaw with them in execution. The problem with Counting Kingdom, and a lot of games that use randomly-generated levels, is that they have the opposite of their intended effect. Instead of having every level feel unique, every level instead ends up feeling the same. The reason for this is because the random design ensures that you will take the exact same approach towards every level and will use the exact same strategies. The random levels also take away the developer’s ability to have any creative thought put into the individual levels, and, instead, ends up with quantity over quality direction in terms of possible level layouts.

The Counting Kingdom | World Map

When one adds the randomly-generated levels with the fact that The Counting Kingdom can be completed 100% in only two hours, the question remains whether it is worth its $10 price tag. While I can safely say that The Counting Kingdom is a fun game for the most part, it is one that is lacking in certain areas. I can personally say that The Counting Kingdom could be a good game to pick up if it is seen on sale at all, but it is not a must-play by any means.

Review Score

Review copy was supplied by the publisher