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Kingdom of the Dead is Tim Burton Meets Classic Doom

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Classic Quake-like Van Helsing First Person Shooter

Despite it not pushing the boundaries or standing out in any particular way as a shooter, Kingdom of the Dead still managed to win me over and provide a very charming experience through its charming atmosphere and monotone, hand-drawn artstyle.

Kingdom of the Dead is a simplistic but very charming first-person shooter that puts you up against Death and his army of the undead. Set in a Civil War-esque time period, you take control of the professor turned army general, Agent Chamberlain. He works for the Bureau, also known as Gatekeeper, a mysterious shadow organization that’s our only defense against the Grim Reaper himself. This game is practically a Van Helsing FPS that juggles creepiness and beautiful visuals pretty well.

Big Iron on His Hip

The first thing that you’ll immediately notice is how familiar the game controls and feels. It plays very similarly to classic first-person shooters such as Doom and Quake, right down to the glowing, hovering ammo pickups. Don’t get me wrong, this game is not going to blow your mind or break boundaries as a shooter.

If you’ve played the previously mentioned games, you know what exactly to expect but that isn’t to its detriment. It feels very snappy and finely tuned as you’d imagine, and its shooting mechanics are easy to pick up. Nailing a headshot feels very satisfying and its arsenal has some surprising depth to it.

Speaking of weapons, your arsenal is made up of weapons you’d expect from the time period. A very reliable revolver, double-barrel shotgun, stick o’ dynamite, you get the gist. What surprised me was the addition of an alternate fire for each weapon, which is bound to the mouse wheel. For the revolver, its alt-fire allows you to fan your gun’s hammer letting you rapid-fire.

This changes the weapon from a reliable headshot machine into something you can use against crowds. Although the coolness ends there sadly as the alt-fire for other weapons feel rather underwhelming. I mean, one is straight-up just a bayonet thrust.

A Talking Sword

Melee combat is also an option, which is personally my favourite way to play the game. You’re armed with a sword that also acts as the sole supporting character in the game. Sitis is your sidekick and weapon, a sentient sword with a moving Eye of Sauron that provides some much-needed wit into the game. Your character will constantly bounce back and forth bantering with the sword, as he either argues with you and tries to convince you to turn back, or provide some context and guidance as you try to complete your mission.

Going back to melee combat, it’s pretty fleshed out. It has an extensive decapitation system as anything you hit will be cut off, allowing you to even leave your enemies as just armless torsos, which will hilariously leave them confused as they follow you around with no way to attack. You can even pile up your own personal posse of armless undead buddies this way. You’ll need to be accurate with your slashes, left click for vertical and alt-fire for horizontal slashes, so it gives you incentive to not spam.

Many enemies themselves use melee weapons, and you can clash swords with them to block attacks by simply attacking at the right time. Dealing enough damage fills up a bar, which causes Sitis’ eye to glow when filled up.

This allows you to unleash a powerful blast, so going full melee has its utility. It’s simple but damn fun.

Made some new friends.

Colours of the Night

Despite its monotone visuals, you are able to choose from an array of colour filters to change the whole look of the game. From softer sepia tones to straight-up Terminator vision, rightfully named “Robot”. My personal favourite is Forest. It’s a small feature but adds a whole lot of customizability to the already beautifully creepy scenes you’ll get to see. This brings us to talk about the absolutely stellar visuals this game has to offer.

The art style and atmosphere alone purely carries this game from a generic shooter to a very memorable, highly stylish experience. This game is just pouring with character and style, and you can tell the developers sought to achieve a specific charming vibe which I feel they knocked out of the park. I’ll let the visuals speak for themselves.

Kingdom of the Dead is a game I definitely wouldn’t mind booting up again for a rainy, Halloween night. Despite the simplicity, its charm and creative direction alone is enough to carry the game into something truly worthwhile.

Plus, it has the coolest game over screen ever.

Coolest. Death screen. Ever.

Pros

  • Beautiful visuals and set pieces.
  • Surprisingly fun melee combat.
  • A talking sword sidekick.

Cons

  • Simple shooting mechanics.
  • Weapons can be underwhelming.

Final Score: 70/100

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