The King’s Dilemma: Chronicles is a reimagining of the popular board game, with moral dilemma’s galore and a huge number of branching paths to review. The fantasy world is well developed, with each playthrough producing different results, and an interesting, if imperfect political system to navigate. If you enjoy strategy and ethical conundrums set in a fantasy world, this game will have you hooked.
The King’s Dilemma: Chronicles is available on Steam for £12.79.
Story – A Land of Mysteries and Conflict
The story for The Kings Dilemma: Chronicles follows the Kingdom of Ankist on the continent of Lywick. The territory is ruled by a council made up of the Dukes and Marquis of the various provinces. There are 12 houses to choose from and each has its own goals. Some seek to better the lives of the people, empower the religious cult, or gain power for their house. The story takes place of several generations, with an eclipse approaching that is prophesized to end your civilization. You need to prepare your nation for this event, whilst balancing the needs of the people. These are the military, economy, happiness, wellbeing, and knowledge of your kingdom.
The story can take a number of directions depending on how you react to the game’s dilemmas. There are over 300 dilemmas, with 6 narratives intertwining. For this review of the King’s Dilemma: Chronicles I played through 2 full campaigns, each going in drastically different directions. The story is delightfully engaging, primarily as you feel involved in the progression of your nation. Without delving into spoilers, my first playthrough revolved around making the nation a technological powerhouse, with the consequence being tension and conflict with more religious and conservative factions in the empire. There are also a number of mysteries to be solved surrounding the ruined civilizations that dot the continent.
Whilst many games struggle to make branching paths that actually feel different, The King’s Dilemma: Chronicles in review succeeds at this. Each potential narrative path is engaging in it’s own ways, often embracing dark themes, and your choices effectively change the story. To conclude, the story is well written and dynamic, and for my playthroughs it was rare to face the same problem twice.
Gameplay – Ethical and Political Conundrums
The gameplay for The King’s Dilemma: Chronicles has a number of factors to manage. You are the head of the council and must make decisions effecting the realm. Each dilemma functions as a turn that progresses the king’s reign. A reign can last up to 12 turns, with their being a 50% chance of him dying each turn after the halfway point.
Should your choices lead to too much unrest, or too much power accumulating the king will be overthrown or abdicate. When the king changes you must choose an heir. You choose their moral alignment, which effects the rewards you can gain from each reign. These rewards are used to research preparations that will offer new dilemmas and effect the uprising that comes with the eclipse.
The dilemmas themselves are interesting. Each one pits your ethics versus politics and resource management. In addition you need to balance the kingdoms military, economy, happiness, health, and technology, with each decision raising or lowering these elements rating. For example, when famine strikes a region, you must choose whether to import cheap but suspicious wheat from abroad, or let the people starve. What choice you make will have consequences that must be addressed down the line, but this review will avoid spoiling the directions The King’s Dilemma: Chronicles can take.
What’s more, you aren’t entirely free to make every choice, as the council will also get to vote on your decisions. However, you have money and influence that can be spent to change votes or overrule the council, but doing this may mean you can’t overrule the council later you must choose wisely.
All of the above synergizes well to a make a great game centered around your moral and political decisions. It keeps you engaged and invested in the kingdom as you try to move it in a certain direction.
The Politics of Ankist
Notably there is one flaw with the gameplay, and that is the political choices you make at the start of each reign. You get money which you can use to forge alliances and change the make up of the council. Each vote effects your relations with the other factions, which makes them harder or easier to bribe. Furthermore they can become your enemy if you constantly vote against them and undermine their goals.
This would be a fantastic addition if it worked better. Unfortunately, this element of the game feels largely unnecessary. Having enemies and allies does feel like it effects the game. Allies won’t automatically side with you, and enemies don’t actually effect anything gameplay wise. However, It helps the immersion as you can aid your allies in achieving their goals, but it feels too easy to just ignore the entire mechanic. It doesn’t hamper The King’s Dilemma: Chronicles, but it is worth noting for review.
Graphics and Audio – A Board Game Brought to Life
Given the focus of the game the graphics and audio could fall by the wayside. Whilst there aren’t any flashy battles to watch, there is some strong artwork. The world map is well designed and each dilemma gets an art piece to go with it. Each one was consistently impressive, especially the later ones as your Kingdom gets involved in darker mysteries, research, and conflicts.
The images are great for world building, as well as being wonderful pieces of medieval, and at times, horror art. Whilst the graphics are by no means the focus, it was a pleasant surprise to review the imagery used in The King’s Dilemma: Chronicles.
The same can be said for the audio. The music isn’t the most impressive, but it functions well to create the medieval/fantasy atmosphere of the game. There is no voice acting either, and there isn’t a huge variety of music. At best the audio can be described as okay, but it doesn’t undermine the experience.
The King’s Dilemma: Chronicles was played for review on PC with a key provided by theindiebros.com.