Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit – A New Franchise?

Inspired by Broken Sword, Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit is a modern point and click adventure with a charming protagonist that covers Europe and some hidden treasures...

There’s been a fair amount of hype for Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit, right? Is it any wonder when it’s a point and click adventure inspired by Broken Sword. Well, ‘inspired by’ is a good pitch, but it’s certainly a good starting point.

Already got the game and stuck? Here's a link to the Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit walkthrough. Only read if it you're truly stuck...

You play Milda – a reluctant hero(?) that dons their adventurer cap upon the death of their grandfather. No, a dead grandfather does not insinuate a first-person simulator. However, you inherit their home and must travel to Lithuania to sift through the paperwork.

Milda is an everyday hero, really. At the start, you create an avatar based on a popular online game, and here can specify your profession. There were three to choose from; a psychologist’s assistant, a photographer and something else I’d forgotten. A bit like Unavowed, your job choice influences the experience in a nuanced way: in my first playthrough, I referred to my psychologist’s book to profile NPCs; in the opening of the second playthrough, I could take snaps as a photographer.

Crowns and Pawns Kingdom of Deceit Review - The GOAT
Of course, there’s a goat reference… Source: Screen capture

The outcome is more or less the same, but the journey differs. What stands out about Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit is the dialogue options. Granted, I don’t have a full case study, Your Honour, but your replies don’t always give the same responses, so that’s a good thing. Also, there are two endings (that I know of), so choices matter, but your actions leading up to the finale don’t alter that final choice.

What I like about Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit is the protagonist, Milda. She’s incredibly likeable, and, in my opinion, the voice casting was perfect. You can also customise her appearance. You may be aware that I’m a slave to customisation in a game, and I may have well spent an extra hour configuring her wardrobe. In two or three spots, you can change her outfit, hairstyle and accessories. It doesn’t affect gameplay (other than an early puzzle), but it’s a nice touch.

Equally, the art and music in this game are very nice. Drawing upon the Broken Sword reference, it doesn’t feel as epic like that, but that’s an unfair comparison. Some of the puzzles do pad it out, but despite a few changes in scenery, it wasn’t on such a grand scale, and if you’re also looking for deeper meanings and weighted deception, as seen in the title, it doesn’t have that sort of clout.

Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit, by Tag of Joy,  is a charming experience – notably Milda and the interactions with NPCs. I can confidently say that these conversations are some of the better ones I’ve had in a point and click adventure. My only real reservation – other than the overall ‘journey’ was the linear aspect – particularly in the opening of the game.

It felt like there were many pre-defined paths to take and not so much in the way of exploration. In many point and click adventures, you can wander off, pick up some random inventory item and keep chipping away at dialogue until the puzzle fits. Here it was a case of ‘do this before you can go on to the next bit’. An example of this was trying to leave an area only to be told to complete something else first. A familiar phrase that you’ll ask your companions would be, “Now what should I do?”.

The inventory system in Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit is very good. There were no illogical elements to contend with, and a lot of the time, you’ll carry some of the items through the game’s duration, seldom needing them until the end. The UI works well, though I would have liked the mouse wheel as a hotkey to the inventory if I’m being picky. Milda’s use of her mobile phone is excellent. You can call characters, text them, and link some notes/objectives to unlock new paths.

Again, one of the joys of playing Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit is the characters. The conversations felt natural, entertaining, and a little bewitching in places. For me, this makes for an enjoyable experience. There were a few elements I didn’t like so much, such as a chase scene that had a simple solution, but it didn’t click. Another was a hockey game that threw me a bit. Otherwise, it’s a solid experience.

There’s an element of Willy Morgan here: enchanting characters, gorgeous visuals and a gooey soundtrack that’ll make most adventurers moist. Despite the welcoming cast, some of the puzzles are bloody hard. Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit is an evolution of the point and click adventure, and long live this revolution of the genre if it’s of this quality.

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