In this review I will be discussing the indie puzzle adventure game Pocket Kingdom which was released December 8th of 2016. Pocket Kingdom is developed by 08 Games and published by Plug In Digital, and WhisperGames.
In Pocket Kingdom you play as the pilot on a hot air balloon. While flying through the air searching for the floating islands, you stumble upon a hidden city amongst the clouds—where you crash land. After crashing you meet with locals who leave hints as to the location of your crashed zeppelin and give you clues about the divine secrets and mysteries of the “Pocket Kingdom” along with other useful bits of information. From here the game takes off and it’s up to the player to solve puzzles, explore the many different side scrolling levels and find the keys and other items to open doors and progress further. Another thing to note is that talking to most (if not all) of the NPCs is highly helpful as many of them have something to say about either the storyline, where to go, your crash location and even tips on how to traverse puzzles. The only thing that was a bit off-putting about this type of talk to everyone, explore everything playstyle was that at times I felt a bit lost, or unsure of where I was to go or who was who and what was where. This isn’t so much the case when it comes to the mechanics of the game itself. There are sign posts throughout the game’s levels which offer bits of helpful information and help the player understand how to use tools and other items. However, I would note that as a player, if you feel lost at the beginning of the game, that’s quite normal given the amount of lore the game throws at you right off the bat. If that’s the case, I would suggest that you continue playing and pay attention to the NPCs dialogue as it can be very helpful in understanding where you are and where you need to go next.
In terms of the gameplay in Pocket Kingdom, the puzzles and the utilization of ladders, moveable blocks, traps, gravity switches, grapple hooks, rocket launchers, boots and other items make for a dynamic puzzle game that had me attempting multiple retries and failing quite a bit before completing puzzles. In my opinion Pocket Kingdom was by no means a ‘cakewalk’ and I felt seriously challenged at times. Some of the puzzles are multi-step sequences that really require you to process the physics of the game and a multitude of different combinations of block movements and other obstacles. Essentially the main danger in this game is lasers and traps which block your progression. With blue blocks you can block lasers and move past them safely, orange blocks however are destroyed by lasers and serve other purposes which must be assessed as well. Given that the game is a side-scrolling puzzle game, the physics act as such—you fall through the floor you end up in the same spot just on the top of the screen. This mechanic can be useful when completing puzzles, but if you fall through a completely open area you will loop through the screen and ultimately have to restart at your most recent screen. One thing to also note is that although the puzzles were challenging and progressively so, never did I feel that it was too much or completely baffling. At times I needed to step back and assess the situation to figure out all the variables I was working with, but aside from that I would say Pocket Kingdom is enjoyably challenging.
The setting in Pocket Kingdom is described by the developers as “Signature steampunk pixel art, winsome chiptune soundtrack and retro-inspired gameplay with modern twists make Pocket Kingdom an unparalleled journey.” I agree, except I’d also add that it has a bit of magical fantasy mixed in as well. While some may be turned off after hearing that it’s a pixel graphics game, the game looks and feels great in my opinion as well as sounding the part. The music (which is optional in the settings menu) can really give you the nostalgic feeling of a retro pixel game which is appealing to some. My only complaint was that it seemed to loop the same or similar soundtrack multiple times which to me got dull and trying—especially when I was attempting to figure out the next step in a puzzle. Maybe a change in pace or different sound tracks could add some variety, but this is just my opinion.
Overall Pocket Kingdom is a very satisfying and enjoyable game in all facets. In my personal opinion the game was executed well and for someone who likes to be challenged mentally I felt that this game gave me a bit of that. Other than that I would highly recommend this game and all things considered I give Pocket Kingdom a 9/10 points.
Watch the Pocket Kingdom Release Trailer:
Pocket Kingdom is now available for PC for $6.99 on Steam.