Available on: PC, Mac
If someone came up to you and said, “Alright, I have an idea for a game. It’s rock, paper, scissors, but in the form of a 2D platformer,” you might not be convinced to throw all of your money at them. After playing the demo at PAX East and then the full version afterwards, I can confirm that Flat Kingdom is a stellar idea for a game, and you totally should throw your money at that hypothetical person.
Take the basic rock, paper, scissors concept and combine it with tight controls, beautiful music, and a lush, gorgeous world and you get Flat Kingdom. In it you play as Flat, a strange little translucent entity who can change shape at will. The shapes are either a triangle (which runs quickly) a circle (which jumps the best) or a square (which is heavy and tough). Throughout the game you’ll need to use each of the different shapes’ abilities to overcome obstacles and defeat enemies. As the game progresses Flat must shift increasingly quickly between shapes to succeed. As someone who plays a lot of platformers, I really enjoyed this mechanic. It felt very fresh. I never found myself feeling frustrated by how I was supposed to apply it. Running around as Flat just felt very rewarding. If I thought my abilities would allow me to do something, they usually did.
The story starts out with a fairly typical “save the kingdom and the princess” type deal, but, without going into any spoilers, definitely got much more interesting. The story certainly wasn’t the strongest part (hard to top the joy of the gameplay, to be honest) but I found it charming nonetheless. It also wisely avoided long-windedness in the sections with dialogue.
The one aspect that I felt like Flat Kingdom could have improved upon were the boss fights. While some of them were incredibly fun, all too often I found my face matching Flat’s triangle expression (hint: it’s a frown) because the procedures for defeating the bosses were completely unclear. I don’t mind playing a boss fight multiple times while figuring out its attack patterns, but when there isn’t a discernible “tell” for their attack or weakness, it stops being enjoyable and starts to feel extremely arbitrary.
Overall, Flat Kingdom’s excellence in other areas won me over. The wide variety of different types of platforming, the fun art style and the solid mechanics make it a worthwhile play. Additionally, there are a decent amount of collectibles and bonus quests to keep the completionist occupied for at least a little while.
Flat Kingdom, the second project from Fat Panda Games, is currently available for Mac and PC.