Kingdom of the Dead is a Creepy, Old-School FPS

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With its pen-and-ink-drawn visuals, Kingdom of the Dead joins last year’s Mundaun as being somewhat unsettling to play.

Only the action here is very different. While Mundaun is primarily focused on exploration and puzzle solving, Kingdom of the Dead is a fast-paced first-person shooter. Yet the sheer gloominess of it all, and the grotesque nature of the creatures you’re up against, make it rather horrifying at times. And that’s despite one of the game’s weapons being a sword that talks to you. Yes, really. It manages to be goofy and scary.

Playing as the mysterious Agent Chamberlain, Kingdom of the Dead sets you an important task: defeat Death and his armies. And so, you’ll battle through a range of environments, disposing of undead monstrosities as you vie to close the Grim Reaper’s gates. What’s nice here though, is that you’re given some freedom as to in which order you tackle some levels. You can also easily revisit them, perhaps trying them at a harder difficulty level which adds yet more challenges.


But of course, the real draw here is the old-school first-person shooter action. Kingdom of the Dead pretty much lets you get on with things without long bouts of obtrusive exposition. It’s also rather generous with handing out new weapons to you. You’ll start with just an old-fashioned pistol and your sword, which both get the job done but perhaps not in the most efficient manner. Your sword does have a nifty special available once it’s charged, however.

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The action really heats up once you gain access to weapons like the shotgun and minigun though. With weapons such as these, you can really take the fight to your enemy, and it’s a real joy massacring Death’s minions with them. Ammo for them isn’t unlimited, however, so you’ll want to destroy objects such as crates found within each level to refill your supplies.

There’s a whole gamut of enemies here for you to kill, everything from lowly zombies to flying organisms that are reminiscent of DOOM‘s Cacodemons. You’ll need to keep your wits about you and devise effective strategies for overcoming them all, but on higher difficulties that’s easier said than done. It doesn’t help that the unique art style can often also make some enemies hard to see.

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A highlight of Kingdom of the Dead is your frequent encounters with bosses. Each one is unique and menacing in its own way, and might initially seem impossible to take down. The first boss you’ll likely encounter is a giant worm, for example, whose body is impervious to your weapons. But pick up some dynamite and throw it down its gullet, and you’ll soon make short work of it.

Mechanically, Kingdom of the Dead isn’t the most refined first-person shooter out there. It could do with a little more optimisation as well. For those looking some old-school thrills, though, it’s well worth checking out. At the very least, its creepy visuals combined with a weirdly enjoyable soundtrack give it an atmosphere that can’t be found anywhere else.

Kingdom of the Dead is available now on PC. Check out its Steam page.


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