360 XBLA Review - A World of Keflings

2nd January 2011 - I loved the first game of a series, A Kingdom for Keflings, so to say the least I was happily anticipating this game. But im always sceptical of sequels, so I failed to put my expectations very high. Read on to find out whether or not this sequel to one of all-time favourite Xbox Live Arcade games managed to step up the game and impress me the way the first did..

This is one of those game where its quite hard to put a solid genre title on it. It’s got a bit of a lot of genres, from adventure and RPG, to RTS. But its not a half-assed mash up of those, but rather a wholly unique sandbox experience that has you building for and catering to an odd race of people going by the name Keflings. it’s a very straight forward game, with little complexity in almost every aspect, and could easily be one of those games that get dubbed ’Easy to pick up, hard to master’.

Its very similar to the first game in a lot of ways, just with some rather meaty additions here and there. Mainly, you can now traverse a series of different ’Kingdoms’, which tie together via unlockable portals found in-game, and also via story missions and different building objectives and requirements. The so called ’story’ though, is nothing of importance. You simply build and help these Keflings and their minor social and economical problems out of good will, with the odd mission-based objectives thrown in for good measure.

But where this helps it improve upon the original, is the humour. Talking and interactive Keflings allow for some very humorous dialogue and missions. It adds to the games overall charm, and is a breath of fresh air from the usual high-quality arcade titles. You can also now push buildings, which is a great addition, myself and lot of other games wanted from the first game. This ensures you can always work toward increasing production and bettering your Keflings kingdom all the time with little hassle.

There really isn’t anything spectacular in this game, even for an arcade title. It doesn’t have any particularly great gameplay mechanics, and uses a bare minimum or practically everything, but its fun, which is the main thing. To add to this fun, is the greatly implemented split-screen co-op which the first game lacked. It makes building kingdoms and helping Keflings all the much more enjoyable to do with a friend, and overall is the prime way to experience this game, rather than online or alone.

Something which helps this title stand out, is that’s its arguably the only decent XBLA game that allows full playability with your avatar. You play the whole game as your Xbox avatar, whereas in the first game it was simply an optional choice to the standard selection of ‘Giants’. This can sometimes seem strange though, given the greatly different look and style of your avatars‘ and the Keflings‘ world. However, this, like a lot of stuff in this game which doesn’t really make sense (and there is a lot of that, I assure you), doesn’t matter because even though it may look odd - you’re having a hell of a good time while doing it.

Avatar abilities aside, A World of Keflings is a nice looking game. That’s not to say it has great graphics, but rather to simply put that it looks good. Good for what it is, anyway. The bland, yet colourful visuals which don’t break any sort of ground mind you, suit the style of the game very well and complement a lot of the addictive gameplay mechanics and humour. So to sum up, as with the gameplay part of things, ‘Keflings graphical abilities are nothing special or moving, but they certainly makes the experience something to remember.

First thing when you boot up this game, you get delivered a dose of the almost danceable and surprisingly catchy main theme tune of the game. It’s a clickable, foot-tappable tune that you will easily come to love. But just as easy as you will come to love the tune, this instalment of ‘Keflings suffers the same fate as the tune from the first game; you will just as easily come to despise it. Since the game is actually quite very addictive, you are forced witness to the same tunes and themes over and over. And over again, furthering your hate of the songs. It resulted in me having to play my own custom playlists from my Xbox, which is fine by me, as I usually do that with most games anyway.

There isn’t any voice work in A World of Keflings, who just take a Sims-esque style of annoying mumbles, noises and whines. It furthers the problems of the soundtrack, but to a much lesser extent. Its easily avoided with custom music, too, and luckily doesn’t deteriorate from most of the games humour and witty dialogue as you talk to your minions.

A World of Keflings is a highly addictive title. Partly because its so easy to play at first, and then later because of how much you ache to build a better kingdom, to better yourself and have a more efficient economy. This can become frustrating, to know there is so much easier solutions to however you find yourself playing, but that’s a very minor feeling compared to the pure joy of the game. You cant help but love every minute of playing, which will have you glued to the TV and controller for hours on end. Add to this the experience of offline co-op, and you have one of the best value-for money experiences on the arcade. This game isn’t only for those who enjoy the usual soft-core family games like Viva Piñata, but rather any gamer who can enjoy and respect when a developer manages to give them such a high quality experience in such a little package by any definition.

It all comes down to pure fun, here. All up, A World of Keflings isn’t particularly great, and its certainly nothing to write home about technically. But all that doesn’t change the fact that this is one of the most enjoyable and addictive Xbox Live Arcade titles of the year, and will provide you with untold amount of joyful, albeit sometimes frustrating, hours of fun, happiness and humour. A World of Keflings is a great game for those of you wanting something out of the usual shoot-shoot/bang-bang and hack‘n’slash games. Think of it as a relaxing vacation.


+ Highly addictive and fun
+ New additions are great
+ Reworked co-op is tops
+ A unique experience

- Some frustrating moments
- Annoying sounds and tunes


Reviewed and Written By John Elliott