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...neat and easy kingdoms...

Alexandre Correia
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RPG Designer
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Day 1748. October 14, 2021. Lagos...

A fox wandering through a small valley forest looking for purple butterflies. Not a bad way to start tonight's visit to video game land.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

The first of many.

I could hear the sound of a waterfall in the distance, fallen stars on the valley pointing also in that direction. But I didn't go there first. For a few minutes, I just wanted to walk slowly over the grass under the trees, sniffing at anything I might find interesting while taking in the sounds of leaves moving with the wind.

I picked up a few stars here and there before finding a spot with purple butterflies flying in circles. They started to follow me for no apparent reason when I walked through them until I jumped to a nearby rock with a star on top. I jumped way above the rock, with the butterflies granting me a surprise boost in the middle of the flight.

So that's what they're for.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

New allies.

The path leading out of Level 2's valley was barred by a rock too big for a simple jump, even aided by a single group of butterflies. Three swarms of butterflies around the fox, as if she was some sort of delicate and rare flower, was the key to jump that high.

It wasn't easy finding the three groups of butterflies. They flew away as soon as I jumped, so to get three swarms around you at the same time, I needed to tiptoe through the valley while searching for them.

Once I was over the big rock, the fox came upon a wide-open plain with some pillars of smoke in the distance. I ran towards one, and Level 2 came to an end.

In the right mood but still eager to keep playing, I turned to Bad North and the start of my second campaign in this roguelite real-time tactical game. Only this time, I went straight to the Hard difficulty setting to flesh out the Bad from the North.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Return to the vicious North.

Harold and Isolda, from the island of Mollan, were not happy when the barbaric northerners invaded their peaceful homes. Despite the invaders' vicious hardiness, they bravely fenced them off, realizing, as they watched the ground littered with dead bodies, that more would come unless they did something about it.

They sailed to the island of Berry and then Gasholmur, where they struck an alliance with Wilbur's band of militia.

Tougher is a good word to describe the low-level militia of invading northerners this second time around. Tougher to kill and the arrows from their archers pierce twice as hard thought the flesh and bones of our troops.

I wonder how the Brute Archer's arrows will feel like when I find them. If I make it that far that is.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Let's see how far I can get this time.

Bad North's main appeal, to me at least, continues to be its minimalist approach to both gaming and visuals. Everything is neat and easy to understand, and at the end of the weekday, I take great comfort in neat and easy. Wondering if Raw Fury had more neat and easy titles, I began browsing through their portfolio.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Noticed the Export .obj button on the bottom right? Amazing!

Townscaper was the obvious "game" that fit the neat and easy bill, as I've mentioned in the past. For a moment, I actually opened the digital wallet to exchange 5€ for a digital version of Lego with rounded blocks. I stopped only when I tried to envision myself building an island city with no clear focus besides mindfulness gaming. I tend to like a clear path in the games I play.

Besides the adventure titles like Sable and Mosaic - currently en route to Netflixian television - the ones that caught my eye were the strategy resource management Kingdom series. They looked interesting and, supposedly, achieved a lot despite their minimalist approach. So I gave their free version, the original Kingdom Classic, a try.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

Learning to be a Queen.

The lonely Queen moved east, leaving the dark forest behind and encountering a few peasants needing a ruler. All she had to do was pay them, which was odd as usually queens and kings tax their subjects and not the other way around.

She distributed her wealth freely, and soon work began on a wooden palisade between the village and the forest. Once the defensive structure was in place, the Queen received higher instructions to defend and expand her new kingdom.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

This is a strategy game, not a racing game Alex!

Night fell, and with it, the Queen's common sense was lost in the shadows of naivete. Spurring her horse to full throttle, eager to explore this new 2D pixel world, she raced back into the forest, now covered in darkness. Before long, an even faster Greedling came out of nowhere and snatched her crown.

From gallery of ZombieBoard

No crown, no Queen...

...but there will be a Restart. Definitely.

One year ago: ...charming...
One year later: ...cackling music to banshee ears...

Photos & Images: ZombieBoard, Sophie Duval
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