Developer: GameOn Production
Release Date: April 28, 2021
The past couple of weeks, there’s a thing that’s been going around Twitter that goes something like “Post your opinion about [fill in the blank] that will get you cancelled”. It’s just the latest version of hot takes (personally, I tend to prefer lukewarm takes, but that’s just me), but it definitely got me thinking about some of my opinions that run pretty much contrary to what seems to be whatever is currently being shouted the loudest.
I say this because I’m about to drop one of those opinions that will get me kicked out of the Serious Gamer Club*: I think that games that fall under the genre label of “casual” don’t get half the respect they deserve. As a result, the companies that put out these games – which are, by and large, free from bugs, by the way – aren’t considered “real” game developers.
* Just kidding, y’all. If there were a Serious Gamer Club, they certainly wouldn’t let me in.
When I spotted Robin Hood: Hail to the King available to play on Utomik (which is far & away the best value subscription service for us plebeians who like things like time management and hidden object games), and I had some gaps in my lineup this month (as Runeverse has already been taken offline, and Invisible Wings turned out to be a demo of an yet-unreleased game), I decided to embrace my inner casual and give it a whirl. On normal. Because I figure I’m pretty badass at time management games.
About ten levels in, and I’m sorry to report, I am getting my ass handed to me, but I’m also enjoying myself more than I have in most of the games I’ve played thus far this month.
The story is absolutely forgettable, but I’m fairly sure most people aren’t playing time management games for the story. The first couple levels are painfully easy (and completely hand-hold-y), but it doesn’t take long for a three-star clear to require both speed and precision. If you choose a suboptimal path, or spend your resources inefficiently, you can kiss your third star (and maybe your second one as well) goodbye. I now understand why this game has an easy mode.
There are static resources, that block your paths and can only be picked up once. Then there are resources, like berry bushes and lumber mills, which keep producing. Demolishing barricades, doing repairs, setting traps, and rescuing allies all have set resource costs from the four basic types (food, wood, rope, and gold). Hovering something like a broken bridge will show you what you need to be able to proceed. The main level objectives are listed at the bottom of the screen, but those aren’t the only things that will require your resources.
You start off with just Robin Hood and Little John, but as you progress through the early levels, you unlock other characters that will help you along the way. Each character has a unique ability, and you will have to choose which characters you take to each level, as well as the order in which they appear. Between levels, you can upgrade their abilities with the gold you’ve obtained from heist levels.
This is an honest to goodness strategy game, friends, just wrapped in a casual game package.
There are 41 levels included in the game (this includes both standard and heist levels), and it took me a little over an hour to complete 9 of them. Even without star-chasing, you could easily get four or more hours out of this one, and it’s one of four games in the same series available on Steam.
Casual games on PC just aren’t hugely successful, even ones distributed by a publisher like Alawar. SteamDB estimates that Robin Hood: Hail to the King has sold between 200 and 600 copies on Steam, and as a result, hasn’t gotten much in the way of reviews (although it’s still rated Positive based on the handful it has received) It is ranked 5653 out of 10,967 games released in 2021.