The world of Keflings is a wonderful place to visit. Imagine having a whole planet dedicated to serving you, stroking your ego and taking anything you dish out with a smile and some untranslatable gibberish. And if that isn\’t enough, building up their world and seeing it grow through your own efforts is equally rewarding. It\’s the game\’s one trick, but it\’s so well polished that it doesn\’t get stale until many hours have passed.
In A World of Keflings you\’ll be playing as yourself, or rather your Mii, and will find yourself surrounded by Keflings who will call upon your \”giant\” size to help them build their kingdoms. The Mii integration is a nice feature and it\’s nice to see your Mii\’s head on a proper-looking body. Ninja Bee gave the basic Mii body a nice buff and some proper clothes, which makes you look like a skilled carpenter. The only downside is that there is no Mii customization: the game automatically picks your default Mii with the color they\’ve been assigned in the Wii U system. As you\’ll progress through the stories you\’ll also unlock emotes for your Mii which will let you interact with your Keflings in different ways. My only complaint is there are no words to describe your emote so you\’ll have to interpret them through visual representation alone.
The game offers four different stories to experience, each with its own unique plotline and environments but the same base gameplay. The main objective of the game is to build up the Kefling kingdom by harvesting resources, building materials and unlocking blueprints. Blueprints allow you to construct more and more advanced buildings until you eventually get the palace, castle or whatever the main structure is. While this may sound easy, it actually takes many hours to get to the final major building, mainly because there are just so many other ones to make as prerequisites. At no point did I ever feel like there was a needless grind, either. The resources come in fairly quickly even without optimizing your resource gathering process. Each building is unique and unlocks different types of materials to build or gadgets to experiment with. You\’ll also be interacting with the Keflings and helping them with some of their troubles via quests, which will all be tied into further building out the kingdom. The main story is centered around constructing the Kingdoms of Ice, Sand and the basic Grass Kingdom, while the additional worlds feature candy, monsters and aliens. Once the stories are complete, you\’re left free to continue expanding and designing the kingdom to whatever vision you may have. The story does create enough intrigue to keep you going until you reach the end however the end leaves much to be desired. The game focuses on creating a solid sandbox to build any kingdom you can imagine rather than tell a memorable story which is unfortunate.
The gameplay is what really shines in A World of Keflings and a lot of polish can be seen here, especially with the creative use of the GamePad. To begin assigning a Kefling to do any work required, simply pick them up and plop them down into the resources you want them to harvest. If you want them to transport that back, just pick them up and shove them into the building. It\’s literally saying, you take this, put it here and then they\’ll keep working until you re-assign them. As your Keflings labor on, they\’ll start gaining levels in that type of work, making them more efficient by being able to harvest faster and carry more resources. When a Kefling is ready to be leveled up, a little triangle will appear above it and you\’ll have to walk up and give it a slap on the head to increase its level. Additionally, if your minions are frustrating you or you need to vent some steam, you can always kick them around or send them flying via a cannon blast with no negative repercussions. The game also says that female and male Keflings will be better at specific tasks, but I didn\’t experiment enough to notice this feature.
On top of your Kefling minions, you\’ll have a few larger Keflings which will follow you around, continuously praising you when they can. These Keflings will gather building pieces when they\’re ready and bring them right to you, eliminating your need to walk back and forth from your construction site to the factory. However, you always have the freedom to do all the same things as the Keflings. You can handle your own mining, transportation, or whatever else you want, when you want.
Building pieces can be constructed in two ways. You can either walk up to the building of your choice and select which materials to produce, or you can tap the building on your GamePad\’s map and select it from that menu. This is an amazing use of the GamePad. Say you\’re in a field away from your main production facilities. Instead of losing time walking back, you simply tap your GamePad to open some menus, indicate what you want produced, and wait for your Keflings to bring over your materials. It works great, and other games could learn from this type of GamePad integration. To make things even easier, each building has its own color palette for the items it produces. So, say your building needs a porch, and the background to that porch material is yellow. To build that porch, you know you\’ll need to access the building that produces yellow materials. Color coding really helps when you have 5-6 buildings each pumping out dozens of unique materials.
The game does a wonderful job of ensuring that you\’re never stuck or unsure of what to do. Pressing ZL will toggle the \”What\’s Next\” button, which reminds you what you were working towards. Pressing L will toggle your current blueprint, which maps out which materials you\’ll need for a certain building and how to lay out the pieces. The R button brings up the building road map, showing you which buildings are needed to unlock more structures. Another friendly feature is your map of where all your current buildings and Keflings are. Keflings are represented by dots, and their color indicates whether they\’re assigned to a task or not. Golden triangles and exclamation marks will also appear on your map to denote Keflings ready to level up and quest givers, respectively.
Finally, all of this gameplay is highlighted with a wonderfully relaxing soundtrack. The background music is subtle and smooth – perfect for a game in which you\’re just constantly working and expanding a kingdom. Songs change with the seasons, which happily mixes things up a bit. The tracks are memorable enough that you\’ll be humming them once you\’ve walked away from the game. I should warn, however, that other members in the household might not show the same enthusiasm towards the music, as my roommate complained that the soundtrack was irritating and annoying after 20 minutes of play. The visuals are cartoonish and, while not impressive, do the job they\’re meant to do really well.
If building sims are your thing, then you\’ll truly enjoy A World of Keflings. It\’s a game with great mechanics, beautiful music and a lot of content to go through with some fun characters and stories. The game offers very little outside harvesting various resources and constructing the next building on your list, so don\’t go in expecting more than that. Also, it does fall short for those seeking to customize their character in-game. After playing for roughly 5 hours and completing the main campaign, I felt very little incentive to continue through the other storylines, simply because the game starts to feel repetitive after that point. Then again, I\’m personally not the type of person to get lost in a sandbox type game for hours and hours. Nevertheless, A World of Keflings falls within the better games found on the eShop and is definitely one of its many highlights for 2014.