Ryland’s Reviews: Kingdom of Loathing

I’m a relative newcomer to the world of PBBGs. That said, I’m going to be exercising my right to free speech with the magic of the internet and reviewing some of these. Being a newcomer, I asked for some advice on where a good place to start would be, a place to really sink my teeth into. I was suggested to a couple of games, but the one that stuck out the most was Kingdom of Loathing. Since I’d heard of KoL before, I went with the familiar name. I was greeted by a rather sparse page: stickmen with swords and martini glasses, white background, some tables. Fairly standard. No problems registering. Then, without warning, I was introduced headfirst into the madness of this game.

KoL is a class-based game, like most MMORPGs and whatnot. You’ll get new equipment, get new stats, level up, all industry-standard, tried and true boring stuff. Yet KoL is about as unique experience from an RPG as you can get. Replacing wizards? Pastamancers. Replacing thieves? Disco bandits. Awesome. There are 6 classes in KoL, based on the three main statistics of levelling up: Muscle (your attack damage and health stat), Mysticality (the magic stat, increasing MP and magic attack power), and Moxie (your luck stat, determining dodges). The 6 classes are divvied up into the three stats, with 2 classes making use of each stat primarily. It’s a very simple RPG system that lends itself well to the nature of the game; there’s nothing overtly confusing about it. It’s not much deeper than the 3 stats, sadly, but it’s a minor grievance and it barely distracts from the fun of the game.

KoL introduces you to the game in good fashion, establishing the basics through a series of quests. You’re introduced to combat, simple turn-based action, nothing particularly flashy and new about it aside from the fact that you’ll be battling bunny rabbits, cooking trolls, and “bars” which might look like bears but no, it’s just a bar. Grinding involves questing in various areas of the game that you’ll visit, engaging in either a battle, event, or a “choose-your-own-adventure” game where you’ll choose multiple outcomes to arrive at either of the former two ends. Each time you click on an area to grind on, you’ll use one of your “Adventures”, of which are limited (you’ll receive 40 Adventures daily). You can also accumulate Adventures by eating food or drinking booze, until you get too full or too drunk. Choosing where to Adventure is important, as picking a place too high level for you will result in death, giving you a debuff that you’ll likely have to spend some Adventures sleeping at your campground to wear off. Buffs work similarly, in that they last for a certain amount of adventures before wearing off. It’s a rather ingenious system that both penalizes death and promotes strategic gameplay without being too involving.

Which, to be honest, is the main focus point of Kingdom of Loathing. It’s ridiculously laid back. Look at the graphic scheme: stick men, black and white. What’s there is fun to look at not because it’s visually engaging, but because it’s hilarious. It satirizes all the RPG stereotypes while being a rather fun RPG itself. It’s the kind of game that takes a step back from games and just wants to be nothing other than fun. It’s a great game to kick back for a half-hour and just waste some time laughing at the witty dialogue and improving your Seal Clubber’s stats. Really, if you find yourself loathing all the RPG clichés that plague games nowadays, you might fit in playing Kingdom of Loathing.

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Ryland is an English major who plays WoW too much and enjoys a good steak moreso than the average chap.

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Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 games, review
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Building Browsergames is a blog about browsergames(also known as PBBG's). It's geared towards the beginner to intermediate developer who has an interest in building their own browsergame.

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