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Review: The Counting Kingdom

At a Glance

This game is recommended!
This game is not just good fun, it also stays fairly true to Christian moral values, making it a great addition to anyone's library!

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: Edutainment
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2014
Review Published On: August 27th, 2016
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

Your progress is automatically saved after you complete a level.

During play, the monsters won't advance until you make a move, so while a pause menu can be accessed by pressing ESC, there's little reason to do so.

Summary of
Major Issues:

Throughout the game, you use magical potions and spells to defeat an army of cute little monsters. In reality, you're actually doing basic math.


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Making monsters go *poof*!

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A banner helps you add if you're having trouble

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Getting ready for a practice round

Game Overview

Edutainment games can easily be hit or miss, but this one seems to have done its homework. Counting Kingdom is a mixture of edutainment and tower defense gameplay, and it works out fairly well.

Each turn, monsters will advance towards your castle walls and if a monster does reach the castle wall, they'll smash it down. The next monster that reaches the breach will get inside the castle and you lose the level. To stop them from getting inside, you select one or more monsters and then cast a spell to make them disappear in a flurry of stars and rainbows.

The educational portion comes in with how you select which spell to use. Each monster has a number on their stomach. When you select a monster or a group of monsters, you're adding these numbers together. Each spell is equal to a set value, so you select the spell equal to the value of all of the monsters you've selected.

Later on, new mechanics are added to make things more difficult. For example, monsters will start trying to protect themselves from your spells by hiding under a cardboard box. The first hit only removes the box, so you'll need to cast your spell on them twice to defeat them. You'll also gain the ability to use potions to alter the numbers on a monster, prevent them from moving forwards, or otherwise give you an advantage. Much later on a powerful monster will appear that increases the numbers on nearby monsters every turn.

Ultimately, I'd recommend this game for children that are learning basic math in school, or just about anybody that likes a little brainy challenge. It's cute, colorful, and there's even cake at the end.

Points of Interest

Some degree of strategy
While the basic premise is simply to add the numbers up and clear them, you do need to have some care about it. The first move you see might not be the best one, and if monsters get separated from each other you can't link them together. This might present a problem later on when you run low on turns.
New elements appear as you progress
In the earlier levels, all you need to worry about it adding the numbers together. Later on potions and trap squares appear, and towards the end of the game the monsters will be using tactics to protect themselves or make it harder to cast your spells.
On-screen assistance
You don't lose a turn if you try to use a spell with the wrong value, but if you make enough mistakes in a row a banner will appear over the monsters that provides on-screen assistance with adding the monster's values. You're not penalized for this at all, so feel free to invoke it when you feel like you're stuck.
Trading cards
While the Counting Kingdom doesn't feature any achievements, you can earn a set of Steam trading cards.
Replay any level whenever you want
When you complete a level, your performance is rated with between one and three stars. You can retry any level, allowing you to earn a higher rating or a better score.

There is also an option to play a practice level against the difficulty of your choice.
Some controls aren't obvious
This game seems to make a few assumptions about the way the player will expect to interact with it. If you play a lot of newer games, you're probably going to know that you can press ESC to bring up the game's menu. The problem here is that I'm not sure that the Counting Kingdom's target audience is going to know about this trick (or that they could use ALT-F4 to close the game directly), and since there is no on-screen way to exit the game, they might get stuck wondering what to do next.

The level select dialog for the practice mode can also be mistaken for a difficulty setting at first glance, as it's just an unlabeled button in the upper right.
Playing for too long can induce headaches
Simply put, long sessions can induce headaches from math overload. Be sure to take breaks every so often.

Concerns and Issues

Magic and monsters
In this fantasy world, the player guides a young wizard through the various battles with various types of monsters. More specifically, you'll use "spells" to rain falling stars and rainbows on the monsters before they break into the castle you're defending. You can also use magical potions to alter the level in your favor.
Everybody wins ending
Although the game starts out with the monsters attacking the castle, the ending is much less serious and it's a happy one for everybody involved. Basically, everybody makes up and has some cake. Apparently the monsters were just feeling left out and lashed out because they didn't know any better.