Flat Kingdom has had a major update to version 1.0.3 called Paper’s Cut Edition. This review has been updated to reflect that change. Updates included a redesign of the main character and improvements in other areas such as narratives, sounds, controls, animation, enemy design and much more.
Flat Kingdom is a beautiful almost 2D puzzle/adventure/platformer developed by Fat Panda Games and published by Games Starter.
The Flat Kingdom was once a chaotic, dark world filled with malice and discontent. This world was 3D. Eventually a sorcerer created six magical jewels to lock the chaotic world of 3D away forever. The Kingdom became beautiful in 2D, the sun touched all edges. Birds singing, merchants on the streets selling their beautiful wares. All the inhabitants were happy and devoted to their King.
Then along came Hex, a thief who decided he wanted one of those Jewels and while he was at it he nabbed the Princess too! Oh no!! The once beautiful 2D world is starting to transform into the chaotic 3D world of old. You cannot allow this to happen! Peace and prosperity must reign supreme.
Who can save the Flat Kingdom? That’s where you the hero comes in! The King wants to ensure the Kingdom is returned to full 2D so he enlists the special abilities of Flat! Flat is the only member of the Flat Kingdom that is able to withstand the effects of 3D.
Flat is circle but can also change shape to become a triangle or a square. Why is this useful? Well the Flat Kingdom uses a special type of combat system. Rather than firing weapons to destroy your opponent you simply have to touch your enemy. Now. I made that sound very simple and would give you the mistaken impression of Mario landing on top of those mushrooms, but let me assure you it is not that easy! Don’t forget the Kingdom is transforming back to 3D.
This is where Flats special abilities comes in. Flat can transform shape from a circle to a triangle and a square. You must use all these forms throughout the game for various scenarios and half the fun is transforming shape at the right times.
In circle form Flat can double jump, walk at an average pace and is able to destroy square enemies. As a triangle you can run pretty fast but be warned, it is tempting to stay in triangle form and charge through the level. Don’t do this, just trust me. As a triangle you can destroy circular shaped enemies. In Flats last shape as a square you move very slowly but this is because in this form you are very heavy. You can use this ability to push objects around, activate levers and destroy triangular shaped enemies.
The update to version 1.0.3 introduces a nice shape guide which you have the option to turn on or off. This makes it much easier to remember what shape you have to be in to defeat your enemy.
Flat kingdom offers a unique style of gameplay that really does bring back some great memories from some older platformer titles from the days of the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis for those in the states). The world view reminds me very much of Super Mario World, where you have a top down view of the Kingdom and you choose your level. Not to mention the fact that the Princess has been kidnapped, there is no doubt the Mario games have had a strong influence here.
There are some really entertaining moments throughout the game such as the checkpoints. These checkpoints are the Kings guards and it appears they like their sleep too much. Upon approaching them they will wake up and plant the Kingdoms flag firmly into the ground, thus marking your checkpoint. You can engage in conversation too and you usually get a chuckle or two with some of the things these guards come out with.
You will have seen by the screenshots that you have lives. Each time you get hurt you will lose a life. If you haven’t reached a checkpoint yet you will be returned to the very start of that level. Before the update to the Paper’s Cut Edition one of the reasons for loosing so many lives was that Flat could almost just about kind of reach a ledge when he jumps. So if you jumped just a smidge too early you would most likely fall to your death or fall into water with some nasty creatures waiting to hurt you. After the update, Flat got an overhaul not just to his good looks but thankfully to the jump system. Like any good platformer it wouldn’t be complete without the ability to collect coins and power ups. These are scattered throughout the levels and makes up for most mishaps, usually when you never changed to the correct shape in time.
The puzzles can be quite fun, many frustrating but fun once you realise you need to change to a different shape. For example to get across an impossibly long jump you need to jump on top of a particular sticky plant while you are circle and then change to square which weights the flower down in the direction you choose. You then change to triangle and the flower propels you across. Other ways to cross platforms include riding on the back of giant earth worm things.
At the end of the level you have the pleasure of dealing with a big bad boss! The first boss you encounter seems childishly easy, and well it is. So when I met the second level boss the Gigantic Spider Queen, I thought how hard can this be? When I say Gigantic, I mean Gigantic! You have to keep moving higher and higher up the platform all the while avoiding spider hatchlings, transforming into a square to kill them, back to circle to jump and triangle to run fast enough to get out of the way of the Queens pincers! It is the deceptive easiness of this game that is enjoyable. One moment you are sitting there all one handed transforming shapes and jumping platforms like a pro while in the other hand helping yourself to some caviar and catching up on twitter, then all hell breaks loose!! Let’s just hope you weren’t holding anything too expensive because you usually just end up throwing it all the wall while you grasp the controller with both hands in a flurry of circles, triangles, squares and sweat!
The update brought many changes including better tutorials on how to play the game and tied the story in much better with some lovely cut scenes.
I will wrap up by saying this. Flat Kingdom is an enjoyable game with beautiful 2D artwork and original music from Manami Matsumae who is the sound designer of the original Mega Man. If you are looking for a relaxing game then move along, this is not for you. If you are looking for an enjoyable experience set in a beautiful Kingdom with plenty of puzzles to solve then Flat Kingdom is for you.
The previous review score was 8.6. That was simply due to the fact that the game didn’t feel cohesive and the main character design looked like an after thought. The jump system was also frustrating. After the update to the Paper’s Cut Edition all of these issues have been eradicated. The update brought many changes including better tutorials on how to play the game and tied the story in much better with some lovely cut scenes. I honestly couldn’t find fault and so Flat Kingdom becomes the first game on Orange Bison to receive a perfect 10/10 score!