Distant Kingdoms is a deep and complex city building and management sim. It also combines a very light role playing element that adds another layer of nuance as well as helps to keep the game play fresh and interesting.
Like most city builders and management sims, the main focus of the game is on building a thriving city. The mechanics are very simple but they interconnect in so many ways that making sure everything is running smoothly becomes quite complicated very quickly.
For example, to make sure residents keep migrating to your village, you have to manage the happiness meter. This meter increases when the base and luxury needs of each resident are met. Their base needs have a larger impact on the happiness meter so you want to focus on that first.
Each housing unit starts with peasants and they only require berries and water for their base needs. These goods are harvested with ease. The luxury good they require is bread, which requires a farm growing wheat, a windmill to grind the wheat into flour, and a bakery to turn the flour into bread.
In order to run these buildings, you need employees, which come from the pool of residents. And in order to unlock these buildings, you need to research them in the tech tree, which usually involves meeting some sort of requirement. And in order to build these buildings in the first place, you need the necessary materials such as wood and stone.
It becomes a balancing act of making sure you are expanding in order to grow your village but not expanding too quickly that it strains your resources and makes your residents very unhappy if you are unable to meet their basic needs.
Add on top of this a very light role playing mechanic. In order to expand your territory, you need to build a tavern and hire a group of adventurers. Once you have a party made, you can send them out to explore nearby areas. If successfully explored, that area is now unlocked and you can expand your village.
The exploration is done automatically and only takes time but once in a while you will run into a special encounter. For example, in the tutorial, you ran across a band of imps creating chaos and chase them down into a house. From here, it’s a basic text adventure where you can pick one of two options. Each adventurer has a set number of action points and special traits, such as detective skills, good hearing, etc. that come in handy for certain situations. For example, the house was booby trapped and having an adventurer with high perception spotted the traps and disarmed them so your group was not injured.
Overall, Distant Kingdoms is a solid city builder and management sim that has a lot of depth. It has a lot of mechanics that are easy to learn but hard to master. The role playing element keeps the game play fresh and gives the player something different to do. It’s going to be great for fans of the genre but for players looking for a more casual experience, it may be a bit daunting. Personally speaking, I played a lot of survival based management sims like Frost Punk and it’s a nice change of pace to play a game where my citizens aren’t dying all the time and simply surviving is a struggle. Distant Kingdom is more about building a thriving village so it’s more forgiving in that aspect.