Review: A World of Keflings


I burned through the majority of A World of Keflings in a six hour marathon where I simply couldn’t put the game down.  It makes for one hell of an addictive time sink.  For those that don’t know, A World of Keflings is a sequel to the previously released Xbox Live Arcade title A Kingdom for Keflings.  AKfK was a game where you play as a giant (probably your Xbox avatar) that helps a civilization gather resources, process them, and build a kingdom.  The structures would increase in complexity as the game went on, requiring a larger number of parts which in turn required more sophisticated items.  Wood became planks, planks became carved wood, etc.  In order to work more efficiently you could pick up Keflings (the tiny people) and tell them to mine resources and take them somewhere, carry items from point to point, etc.  Your progress was rewarded by hearts which could be used to increase your kingdom’s Kefling population, blueprints for new buildings, and upgrades that made your giant more efficient at his tasks.

Bright, colorful, and stylized as always.

We’ve now gotten a sequel and, well, things are largely the same.  As the name signifies, you now help Keflings over a variety of locales, but you actually spend the vast majority of your time with the forest kingdom.  The desert and arctic kingdoms are in very small areas with little to do and short tech trees, so they feel like little more than detours that were put into the game to lengthen the campaign.  Their ultimate purpose is to give you access to buildings that can create glass and metal in order to progress toward your final structures in the forest kingdom.  This felt like a missed opportunity for me.  Why not let players fully develop a kingdom in each region, each with its own style, strengths, and weaknesses?  The kingdoms could have worked in tandem to provide what each needed while simultaneously helping themselves.  You never get to see any real back and forth.  In fact, the only reason you’re even helping the arctic and desert kingdoms is usually because you’re trapped there in some way.  As soon as you leave and unlock the metal and glass trading posts you might as well just forget that they even exist.

You now can enlist the aid of burly looking Keflings that will help you carry any pieces of buildings that you create.  This was by far my favorite change made to the game because it helped cut down on the repetition of running back and forth between two points for every single square that a building takes up.  You can also give Keflings a slap when they reach certain milestones in order to level them up, which causes them to work faster.  Bridges can be constructed in order to give you access to brand new areas or to create faster routes between point A and point B.

That’s what I liked about bridges: they were functional.  Many of the other things you can create in AWfK serve no purpose and wouldn’t be built at all by most people if there weren’t achievements to be earned by doing so.  I can create pretty flowers and fountains?  Why not let those increase Kefling morale?  Maybe make them work faster or carry more when they’re surrounded by beautiful items.  I keep getting gears as a reward for uncovering pieces of the map, but they can only be used to build cannons?

Itty bitty desert land feels like more of an afterthought than a game-naming concept.

Why not let me use those cannons to send Keflings into areas that I can’t otherwise access?  If you let me build cannons on both sides of a river and use that for Kefling transport I could do away with bridges altogether!  You can still build walls like in the first game, but why?  They could have gone the Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise route by adding family-friendly villains to that game.  That would give me plenty reason to build walls to protect my Keflings.  Hell, I’ve got another use for those cannons!  Let me build them in strategic locations and assign a Kefling to each one.  Whenever an enemy comes nearby the Kefling could fire himself at the bad guy.  The collision could send the villain flying out of the level in classic Team Rocket or Super Mario style in order to keep the borderline violence cartoony and kid-friendly.

That’s ultimately what my problem is with A World of Keflings, and why I can’t give it any sort of perfect score.  It feels like exactly what you would expect from an average, direct sequel.  They took the original game, changed a few things, added a few things, and then put it up for download.  I didn’t just want more A Kingdom for Keflings, I wanted a new kind of Keflings game!  I want a memorable and unique experience.  I had fun with A World of Keflings.  It devoured hours like no one’s business and kept me occupied, but it didn’t do anything memorable and I have no desire to replay it.  It’s simply another good XBLA title to play, complete, and then ignore.  Please, NinjaBee, if you make A Universe for Keflings do something new with it.  Wow me!

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