Based on a popular browser-based Flash strategy game, King’s League: Odyssey speaks the language of the modern mobile base management game, but it also speaks a few others. The mixture of resource management and automated combat and the tone of medieval whimsy might have you bracing for a pink fairy to pop up and ask for your credit card number, but that blow never lands. The original King’s League predates Clash of Clans by a year and was totally free, and its success gives King’s League: Odyssey the confidence to be a complete game with a sense of real balance. There are special classes that cost extra money, but every currency is acquired through gameplay, and it’s surreal to play a mobile strategy game where the gems are a properly balanced resource.
The spine of King’s League: Odyssey’s gameplay is a system of automated league battles that trigger every couple of in-game weeks. Your task is to keep up with the difficulty curve of the league battles by recruiting soldiers, upgrading your army, doing quests, exploring dungeons, and upgrading your base. The league battles, quests, and dungeon battles are automated sequences where you watch your army of up to five units fight another army for several seconds, and they’re really just indicators of how well you’ve done your resource management. Your units will need to be trained and leveled up, and you’ll have to balance upgrading your base with sieging other towns and recruiting new units. If you don’t win your league, it starts over again, allowing you to get better while your competition stays the same, so defeat is more or less temporary.
While you have a huge number of options at any given time, the primary element in deciding the game’s battles is whose army has the highest stats. You can choose which stats to upgrade and which classes to have in your party, a decision that gets more interesting the more classes you unlock, but with enough money, gems, and stat upgrades, you’ll best any opponent in the game. As a result, when you lose a battle the solution is to get better and not get smarter. Winning that battle, then, is just a matter of time. At the same time, the amount of options available to you at any given moment stops the game from feeling like it’s on rails.
King’s League: Odyssey is a well-designed, polished game, but after visiting the original The King’s League it’s disappointing to see it take a couple steps too many into the forced whimsy of its free-to-play contemporaries. Since the name of the game is big-headed cartoon knights, it’s not too awkward to have jokey quest descriptions and the like, but when the game has a dual-currency system based on plentiful gold coins and scarce purple crystals it starts to resemble some very profitable games that shall remain nameless for no real aesthetic reason. It’s such a precise implementation of a dual currency system that it would be pretty easy to slow down the rate of crystal acquisition and add a cash shop. Since the game is designed as an independent, balanced experience with microtransactions only unlocking special characters, why not make a complete break from the dual currency hamster wheel vocabulary? Is a free-to-play King’s League game in the cards? Despite its flaws, King’s League: Odyssey is an interesting look at what this genre looks like when done in good faith, and it turns out to be a pretty fun and unique game for it. It’s sort of the methadone to the Clash of Clans heroin. Anyone looking for a mobile base strategy game that won’t ask them for money (much) will find King’s League: Odyssey to be a solid option.
Is it Hardcore?
The only Android resource management game starring big-headed childlike medieval warriors that you can actually trust. It’s a little too simple and a little too heavy-handed at times, but all in all it’s well-designed and fun.