Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit
Crowns and Pawns is a modern version of the classic point and click (PnC) adventure game. You are playing as Milda, an “insert job title here” (you’ll find out during the pretty creative character creation process) who is about to embark on an adventure of her fathers (?!?) lifetime… hang on this is supposed to be an adventure about Milda right?
Let me check…
Hmm ok yeah this is right.
Oh well, carry on….
So, where was I?
You play as Milda and find yourself off on an adventure involving Lithuanian rulers, mystical crowns and your grandfather’s mysterious death.
With an intuitive PnC system that allows simple functionality and object interaction and echoes of classic games such as Monkey Island and Broken Sword, Thunderful Publishing brings us Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit. The adventure takes you from the city of Chicago to the country of Lithuania, where Milda sets out on the path to find out what has happened to her father and grandfather with help from her friends Dana and Joris, and even at one stage, the librarian’s cat.
At A Glance
|Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit|
|Positives||+ Intuitive PnC system|
+ Puzzles don’t involve moon logic (looking at you Discworld)
+ The backgrounds have a great design and suit the style of the game well
|Negatives||– Horribly cringy and dare I say, cliché, love interest story|
– Puzzles are a little too simple if you want a challenge
– The character dialogue is what I imagine a parent of teenagers thinks their children talk like XD <3
|Played On||Nintendo Switch|
|Also Available On||PC|
|Find out about our scoring policy here.|
I have to hand it to Crowns and Pawns that the character creation is a nice touch. You can select your career and look through an interesting concept, which has a small part to play in how you solve a particular puzzle in the future. It’s something that doesn’t affect the storyline but is a nice idea nonetheless. Once the game begins you discover that your grandfather has passed away and left you all his worldly possessions including his house, the only snag is that it’s four and a half thousand miles away in Lithuania.
The initial chapter is set in Chicago, your home city where you live with your flatmate, Dana, and you have to look to fund your trip to Lithuania (much to the disappointment of your mother), in order to find out what happened to your grandfather and how you’ve come to inherit a house. This first section is, for want of a better word, bad. To give you an idea, it would have been at the point where you have to change your outfit to satisfy the tastes of Alfred the art critic that I would have turned the game off if I wasn’t reviewing it. Not to mention an incessant trumpet that loops a few second soundtrack over and over. The ‘jokes’ here are tired and I just don’t understand the point the game is trying to make. I’m not sure about you, but the last thing I want to do when I’m unwinding playing a video game is deal with some casual misogyny backed by a bloody awful trumpeter.
Added to all this there are A LOT of very dull admin type tasks to do that are just not engaging gameplay. Like packing a bag and checking off the items on your phone to make sure you have them… apparently all entirely unnecessary gameplay to drive the story forward… I thought I was playing a game about mysterious disappearances and magical powers, not a glorified ‘to-do list’ app.
Ploughing on, and one familiar plane travel animation later (I swear the team made this game whilst watching Indiana Jones movies), I made it to Lithuania and here it must be said, the gameplay massively steps it up a gear. The scenes are immediately more interesting and Milda becomes instantly more interesting a character when searching for clues as at her grandfather’s house. Here we get into the rhythm of the gameplay and the tone set for the rest of the game. The pacing is good and the puzzles are simple but engaging. If you are someone who likes their “moon logic” games, then this one isn’t for you. But I would say it is a perfect level of difficulty for someone new to the genre.
It is whilst in Lithuania you meet your estranged friend, Joris. It is clear that Joris is infatuated with Milda and it is up to you, the player, to make text choices as to how much you lean into this part of the story. Again this was a strange choice of gameplay, as once you make it clear you are not interested in that side of the story the game will not let it go. With Dana texting you every five minutes to ask “how’s it going with Joris wink wink” and Joris being sad that you’re sleeping on the sofa rather than his bedroom. Like a 90’s sitcom mom asking her 20-something daughter when she is getting married, this storyline persists the entire game and is something you must just grin and bear to get through to the actual good parts of the game.
Speaking of the good parts of the game, there are many different areas where there are some really innovative and quirky puzzles. Having some sound based clues at an international ice hockey game or even having to think quickly with a balloon to distract some goons to help you escape on the back of an Italian moped are both good fun amongst others in the game. These sections in particular show off the game’s good design when it comes to the backgrounds and interactable objects. However the character models themselves are a bit janky and could really do with a bit more time spent on their animation cycles, particularly their hand and arm movements, which can be very marionette-esque.
Your main quest is to discover the whereabouts of the lost crown and the truth behind its power. It feels like a true classic PnC adventure and even has me drawing parallels between it and the aforementioned Indiana Jones films, and some of their very early PnC games – particularly The Last Crusade. There’s a part where you escape from a church via a sewer and the endgame is very similar to sections of the now-ancient LucasArts game. But you’d have to play it yourself and see if you come to the same conclusions on that one, else I spoil it for you.
Overall I’d say I am on the fence with Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit. For a seasoned PnC gamer, this is one that I’d skip, as you’d likely get more enjoyment elsewhere. But if you are someone new to the genre or newer to gaming in general, it will be a good introductory game to learn the mechanics and the relative pathway these games usually take. (Once you get past some of the less engaging parts and the corny dialogue anyway.)
In the interest of full disclosure, VGamingNews was provided with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.
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