When I was a kid, my brother and I inherited an old Amiga system from our relatives in Toronto. Even though we had the original PlayStation at home, playing the Amiga at my grandparents’ house was one of the highlights of my childhood. I loved playing games like The Secret of Monkey Island, Police Quest, and Shadow of the Beast. Even at that age, and even with a state-of-the-art console at home, I loved that clunky gray thing. Pocket Kingdom is a true throwback to that era, and a fantastic bit of nostalgia for me.
“Certain rumors persist among air travelers. Rumors about mysterious islands that sometimes appear up there in the clouds out of the blue. According to the legend, the Old Gods withdraw to those islands, casting spells of oblivion and serenity on them.
“The chief editor of a well-known newspaper made me an unusual offer. He promised to reward me for bringing photographs of one of those peculiar islands and the God resting there.
“A strange offer, to say the least. One I could not refuse however: at that time, creditors were incessantly banging at my door. When they threatened to seize my beloved airship to pay off the debts, I didn’t think twice and immediately left on my quest.”
Right from the initial cutscene intro, you know this is a retro PC game. The animations are smooth and very modern, but the artwork is straight out of the 80’s. The color palette fits perfectly, and the silent movie style narration cards at the beginning set the mood. The music is beautiful, and made me fiend for the Stranger Things soundtrack. It really is that good!
Pocket Kingdom Gameplay
Pocket Kingdom is a puzzle game at its core. It isn’t mindless and repetitive though. It has great lore, with a pseudo-spiritual backdrop to the story. The developer, 08 Games, could have just as easily turned this into an RPG. Instead, they gave us fresh and challenging puzzles in almost every “room” of the floating island. You move boxes, use a grapple gun, and blow up crates with a rocket launcher as you progress through the island.
Gameplay seems too easy at first, but it gets real pretty quickly. You’ll be thanking 08 Games for giving you the ability to reset each puzzle an infinite amount of times. As you progress, you will thank the maker, too. It takes some out of the box thinking to figure out which cliff to walk off in order to wind up at the top of the stage. Wrap your head around that for a minute.
It doesn’t seem to get frustrating though, which is a very special balance to achieve. The game feels welcoming, warm, and truly nostalgic. It’s an easy game to pick up, and an easy game to get into. My wife had to keep asking me to stop playing, so you know it’s good.
The one complaint I have is the NPC dialogue. Some conversations are very useful. Others are long-winded and quite repetitive. You never know if you are going to get crucial information, or just another person telling you that air pirates exist for the thousandth time. That could be said for many a game, but it’s something I would expect from an RPG instead of a puzzle game.
Don’t let that small bit deter you from this beautiful game. It’s a trip down memory lane that doesn’t feel like a rehash. It’s a joy to play, and I can’t wait to give it another go later tonight!
Pocket Kingdom is an indie game developed by 08 Games, released on December 8, 2016, for PC. Download it from the Steam Store now! I’m glad I did.