When you think of the Kingdom series, it’s more likely to elicit visions of medieval Europe rather than the neon-filled era of the 1980s. However, the team at Raw Fury is about to change all that with Kingdom Eighties. The game is looking to not only give fans an entirely new backdrop, but throw in some fresh gameplay features as well. I got a chance to go hands-on with a work-in-progress PC build of Kingdom Eighties during GDC 2023 and it struck a chord with me for several reasons.
Kingdom Eighties doesn’t diverge too much from the formula that’s made it so popular. Players will still gather supplies and coins to fortify their defenses and expand their land and fight off enemies. However, now things are a little more radical to the max, so to speak. Instead of being a king or queen, you’re now a camp counselor and you recruit campers to be your builders and archers. You’ll ride around on a bike instead of a horse. And you’ll have a crew of besties to help you through everything like any good 80s kid would that will bring their own special skills to the table. Your jock buddy can do things like push dumpsters as a mobile defense wall, while your nerd pal can build tech to help strengthen your home base.
Here’s a little fun fact, I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and so did Raw Fury co-founder and Kingdom Director Gordon Van Dyke. Why is this important? Well, Kingdom Eighties features more than one area to explore and many of them were heavily influenced by places we both spent time as kids in real life. Players will start out in summer camp, but soon make their way to eerie suburban areas and malls. One background in particular perfectly captured the brown hills and green shrubs that houses an oil refinery in Martinez, CA and brought back a lot of memories. Along with the IRL influences there are plenty of nostalgic pop culture easter eggs strewn about as well that players should keep their eyes peeled for.
Along with the new setting and the addition of levels, players will also be getting a more fleshed out story that ties into the rest of the Kingdom franchise. And if that wasn’t enough, Kingdom Eighties will finally introduce the long-awaited feature of checkpoints. So no more having to start from scratch in games you may have been grinding away for days on before meeting an untimely end.
Kingdom Eighties feels like it's taking the core elements from the franchise and tweaking them just enough to make things a fresh experience. And while admittedly I do have some personal ties to this new game world, I would still say the vibe of Kingdom Eighties invokes pop culture staples like the Goonies, or the more modern Stranger Things regardless of my own attachments. While there’s no official release date yet, Kingdom Eighties is shaping up to be a totally tubular experience for old and new fans alike.
This preview is based on hands-on time with a work-in-progress build of Kingdom Eighties at GDC 2023. The game is set to launch for PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and Nintendo Switch at some point in 2023, but does not have an official release date as of the time this article was published.
Blake Morse posted a new article, Kingdom Eighties is full of hometown nostalgia and new features