Kingdom of the Dead bathes its world in a macabre darkness that only the flash of your muzzle and enemy bloodstains can shine through.
Most people sleep soundly without knowledge of the war with the dead. There are forces that would try to take hold of every mortal soul if left unabated, and only a thin strand of justice separates an otherwise normal modern world from complete undead chaos.
Kingdom of the Dead by Dirigo games is a gunslinging first person horror game that drops you in the middle of a war with invading undead. You are an agent of a supernatural bureau in charge of eliminating undead threats in the 19th century eastern United States. Demonic entities seek destruction by opening portals to hell that spew swarms of nightmarish creatures to wreak havoc upon the living. The only thing standing In their way is a secret society and a sentient sword that allows its wielder to strike back.
Kingdom of the Dead stands out as an action game with an avant-garde style. All of the textures seen in the game are drawn with pen and ink giving every Inch of the environment the appearance of a unique black and white sketch. Red is the most prominent color used to emphasize the blood and action, while other colors only appear in the form of ammunition pickups to illustrate the 8 different types of weapons. Gameplay takes the form of a classic 90’s shooter with a level structure that allows you to take on harder enemies and objectives each playthrough if desired. Each level features hordes of various undead, each with haunting glowing eyes. Enemy waves come in different sizes & speeds, and will utilize ranged weapons like guns & magic to put a stop to the agent. Headshots are an agent’s best friend as they can take down enemies much faster if they aren’t wearing head protection. Weapons also have an alternate fire mode, like your demonic sword that charges with kills to unleash powerful ranged magic. Each of the levels has available sidequests, including rescuing trapped prisoners, and Bosses to face on your way to seal the portal to hell.
While there is no explanation of the controls in the introduction, players will find them similar to most first person shooters. Without glancing at the options menu, you could potentially eliminate many threats without realizing you can aim down the sight or use an alternate fire mode. The agent can also sprint, crouch, and jump, but when used simultaneously, fast paced maneuvers can take on a strange level of velocity. Movement allows the agent to unrealistically sprint and crouch at the same time, and then perform jumps at the same speed. Excessive motion is fun to play around with, and even helpful when searching for secret hearts that extend your maximum health but depending on your surroundings can also lead to unexpected fall deaths. Luckily there are checkpoints scattered about levels in the form pedestals with an ancient book to inscribe your progress.
The dark visuals bring an enveloping environment that is well supported by the soundtrack. Chilling effects and atmosphere are accompanied by unnerving synth-based songs that feel straight out of horror cinema, but are sometimes accompanied with driving bass grooves and vintage drum machines. This type of game soundtrack would have benefited if it was a bit more dynamic or adjusted itself in the moment. If you happen to linger for too long in an area you may notice a point where the music loops awkwardly and may or bruise the sense of immersion if it doesn’t line up with action on the screen. The clever use of horror sounds are on point and can still send a shiver down your spine when they land correctly.
While blowing the heads off the undead is quite entertaining, there are a few other hiccups worth mentioning. Players who are accustomed to first person shooters may find the enemy intelligence too simple. Slain enemies seem to linger too long before disappearing in a strange way and don’t always feel like a threat without the right intelligence to meet players head on. Most enemies and even bosses can be defeated by retreating or running in circles until you can wipe out enemies in a group, making fall deaths or ignoring ranged attackers the most threatening way to die. Even with the difficulty turned up, you can make quick work of bosses with enough dynamite. Some motion tracking can be visually cheapened, like when enemies walk down stairs with a buggy twitch adding up to an overall experience that feels somewhat rough or unpolished.
As a complete package Kingdom of the Dead is a fun shooter with an artistically inspired approach to visuals and storytelling. While the action may not steal any attention from multiplayer shooting games, fans of visually stunning and one-of-kind experiences may still see past the blemishes and enjoy an original style over refined substance. While the trained eye may focus on flaws, raw gameplay is a captivating feast for eyes that enjoy the obscure interpretation of light and shadows. You can even go as far as to alter the color scheme in the options menu for new ways to enjoy the game. If blasting the heads of comic book zombies and demons is your idea of a good time, then you won’t be disappointed fighting against the Kingdom of the Dead.
Artistic Visual style
Fast and fun combat
Enveloping horror atmosphere and story
3 difficulty settings for each level
Motion tracking has bugs
Low difficulty curve
Music loops break immersion
3 out of 5
Review code provided by PR. Kingdom of the Dead is out now!