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Ninja Bee
Ninja Bee
GENRE: Strategy
December 22, 2010
A Kingdom For Keflings

 Written by Kyle Hilliard  on December 22, 2010

Review: It'll take over your dreams!

A World of Keflings continues the time-honored video game tradition of pretty much doing anything anybody asks you to do for them. It could be as simple as going and grabbing something for somebody else, or it could be as complicated as building an entire kingdom, complete with a castle. When it comes to video games, we as gamers will do almost any favor, for anyone -- as long as there is at least a small reward. This is what A World of Keflings is all about. Doing favors for people.

You -- and by you, I mean literally you, because you play the game with your Xbox Live Avatar -- get dropped into the world of the Keflings. You are a giant among the tiny Kefling people, and they need your help. It's a bit like Gulliver's Travels, except instead of crash landing on an island, you get magically, and inexplicably, thawed from a giant ice cube. From there you must build, and the Keflings will provide aid where they can.

A World of Keflings plays a bit like a simplified Civilizations game, but without the threat of pesky wars. It's all about collecting material and using it to build items, which you then use to build structures, which will typically allow you to build different items, to build new structures, and so on and so forth until you find yourself dreaming of the miniaturized Keflings traipsing about in your dreams (true story). The strategy of the game comes from how you utilize the Keflings. They will perform the menial tasks of material collection for you so that you can deal with the important creation stuff.

You won't be assigning jobs through menus or interactive lists. It all takes place in real time. If you want a Kefling to collect wood from the forest, then you must pick it up, place it in the woods, and then pick it up again and tell it where to take the wood. The only menus you will be accessing are the ones needed to select which structures you would like to build next. There isn't even a way to monitor statistics, other than to walk up to a building and see how many logs or rocks have been collected by your diligent workers. You will never be sifting through menus to assign jobs or relocate materials, which leads to a fluid, living, breathing world. Everything is always happening in real time, and it can become confusing not knowing how many people you've got doing what. You might end up with 687 leaves, when all you need is five baskets of sand.

Direct interactivity with everything, means that you will walking back and forth a lot. A World of Keflings has incorporated a lot of new features and improvements since the original Kingdom of Keflings, to help alleviate some of the footwork. You now have a small army of Keflings that cannot be reassigned and instead follow you around carrying building pieces for you. This is one of the biggest improvements over the original game. Instead of having to walk back and forth between your factory and the building you are in the process of creating, you now have Keflings that will bring those pieces to you as they are manufactured. This makes the game feel much more streamlined, and also offers a convincing illusion of teamwork. These Keflings are here to help you, and you truly do feel the love, especially when your building materials are being delivered right to you.

General interaction with Keflings and materials can still be frustrating and uncooperative at times. The simple addition of being able to press the B button to cycle through the different things near your feet helps a lot, but there are still many instances of grabbing things you didn't meant to pick up. The worst is when you accidentally pick up a Kefling who is in the middle of a task. Picking up a log-gathering Kefling and placing it back down ruins their set path, and you may not notice that they are no longer doing their job until much later. The whole idea of playing as a giant and interacting with smaller items without the aid of a mouse is a difficult hurdle to jump over, but Keflings has cleared it - even if they clipped it a bit with a toe in the process. It's frustrating but not a game-breaker.

The name A World of Keflings is appropriate, but also a bit deceptive. You do travel to drastically different locales across the Kefling world, but there are only three, and the interactivity between them is limited.

The Keflings themselves have entertaining animations, and can be genuinely funny as they pile on their lavish praise of you. Being able to use your avatar really goes a long way in building a relationship with them, and the final creation of the game has a surprisingly effective amount of resonance, especially considering how goofy the game is. Overall though, the visual style of the game does little to set itself apart from other games on Xbox Live. I'm not entirely sure if I could pick out a Kefling in a lineup of similar village-type characters, but that isn't to say that the art style is bad -- just forgettable.

The music is great except for one problem: it's redundant. The music amounts to a couple of very pretty classical guitar riffs played over and over. It's the kind of music that if a friend was playing one of the Keflings games in another room, you would immediately be able to tell what they were playing, and may even feel a bit nostalgic about your time with the Kefling villagers. But repetition is the curse of video game music, and when it's as enjoyable as it is here, it's not much of a complaint.

Bottom Line
A World of Keflings is a great improvement over the original game. There is more to do, more to see, and it's all easier to do in general. The characters are often funny, and creating buildings is a continuously rewarding experience; however, without any kind of real conflict or even a timer of some kind, it can become a bit dull. That's OK, though, because Keflings - with its relaxing classical guitar and cordial inhabitants -- is really meant to just be a pleasant, relaxing experience. You create the machine and then you watch it work, and in the end, it's all worth it.

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