Knights, castles, and sword fights—medieval times have been universally fascinating and appealing almost as long as they have been in existence. A Tale of Two Kingdoms by developer Crystal Shard takes medieval gameplay to the hilt (pun intended), from the music to the dialogue to the setting design. A simple explore-and-combat game, it plays like a classic early video game, where you have to click on the different items in each scene and interact with them in a certain sequence in order to progress to the next chapter. This game may be old fashioned, but it is definitely not easy. You must always make use of your surroundings in each scene, and discovering the solution often requires you to think several steps ahead. These combinations of simplicity and complexity, the familiar and the unknown all contribute to A Tale of Two Kingdoms’ solid credentials as a great game.
As mentioned before, A Tale of Two Kingdoms challenges you to think ahead and solve problems completely on your own. The mouse does let you toggle between viewing objects and using objects, and so clicking on something to view it will probably reveal interesting information. However, it is up to you to piece together the multiple clues and discover the right way to achieve your objective. For example, one of the earlier challenges was to get past a bored guard in a castle chamber. I clicked on the kitchen on the far side of the room and was told that my character stole a bottle of liquor. From there, I easily guessed that I wanted to spike the guard’s drink in order to make him fall asleep so I could slip by. My go-to thought was to slyly place the bottle in a conspicuous place in the room so the guard could see it, but the game kept telling me that it was not wise to place the alcohol anywhere in the room. After almost a full hour, I finally realized that I needed to open one of the side doors in order to distract him, and then pour the liquor in his cup while he was distracted. As obvious as it seems in retrospect, this actually required a lot of creating thinking outside the box. I would definitely say that this game sharpens your critical thinking skills, which I do not often find with these types of games.
The other major aspect that I appreciated about this game was how genuine it was in terms of creating a true medieval ambiance. From the music, which sounded like it was composed centuries ago, to the beautifully detailed backgrounds of battlements and great dining halls, I felt fully immersed in the historical time and location. On the other hand, A Tale of Two Kingdoms also includes incredibly strong female characters, such as Branwyn, who is a fearless fighter and one of the protagonist’s main companions. Of all things, I am glad that gender norms in the game are not exactly the same as the traditional medieval beliefs that prevailed during that time. All in all, a surprisingly stimulating gameplay and impressively authentic game design keep A Tale of Two Kingdoms a relevant and enjoyable game today.
Watch A Tale of Two Kingdoms Steam Trailer:
A Tale of Two Kingdoms is available for PC via Steam.