Making the Most of a Simple Thing: Kingdom of Loathing
October 4th, 2006
Keeping it short and sweet this week, I'll concede I'm a bit behind on this one. Exactly three years behind to be precise. Where it might be hoped that I've come to you with something bleeding edge, cool and decidedly Mac-only comes an old favorite that sometimes recaptures my attention for weeks at a time.
Despite its age, Asymmetric Publications' Kingdom of Loathing remains one of the most fun role-playing game satires available. A Web-based game requiring only a Web browser and Internet connection to function, the game is free to anyone who wants to play.
Simply sign in and create a character. Players can choose from a variety of classes, which, like the standard role-playing game, embody different strengths and weaknesses depending on which role is chosen. Like the standard role-playing games, players work towards building their characters via quests, magic, items, skills and experience points.
Fluffy bunnies provide a brutal gladiatorial challenge in Kingdom of Loathing.
Unlike the standard role playing game, Kingdom of Loathing sets out to completely parody its own genre.
The end result proves to be incredibly successful.
Set in a world of stick figures, odd quests, completely laughable enemies (training quests require players to slay cute little bunnies) and alcoholic beverages, the game is set around a sense of sometimes-demented, but thoroughly prevalent sense of humor. If a quest or side quest seemed irrelevant or strange in a standard role playing title such as World of Warcraft, Neverwinter Nights, Fallout or Baldur's Gate, then its ridiculous clone will appear in Kingdom of Loathing only to make fun of something that shouldn't have been taken seriously in the first place.
Where each Final Fantasy and other marquee role playing title trip over themselves to provide a richer environment/more bells and whistles, Kingdom of Loathing proves that you can create a fun title with little more than stick figures, a sense of humor and a simple, easily navigable user interface. Kingdom of Loathing may not stand shoulder to shoulder with the latest blockbuster title you've just raced home from the store to buy, but if you have a Web browser and 20 minutes to goof around with a fun title with practically no load time, this is worth a look.
An easily navigable point and click map helps gameplay.
Kingdom of Loathing is available for free, although creators Zack John and Josh Nite politely request a small Paypal donation to reward the effort (this is subtle and by no means nag-ware, just a small "Paypal" link up in the main menu). Users who've contributed $10 or more will receive a Mr. Accessory item to trade within the game.
For more information, check out Kingdomofloathing.com. And if nothing else, give the game a try since you always wanted to slay enemies such as bunnies, vampires, snowmen and gravy fairies in order to collect pieces of meat, the backbone of the game's economy. Failing that, for an extremely fun point and click role-playing game with its own sense of self-parodying humor, you couldn't ask for much better.
Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.
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