Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit brings more graphic adventuring to the Nintendo Switch. The genre has really grown on the hybrid system, but this game is definitely one of the better point-and-click games available in the eShop.
You take on the role of Milda, who has to travel to her late grandfather’s house (and her inheritance) in Lithuania. While sorting through his personal effects, you start to unravel some mysteries that predate even grandad’s time, going all the way back to the 15th century—far-encompassing mysteries that could put you in real danger. No worries, though, as Milda can’t actually die, which lessens potential frustration (this game is more LucasArts than Sierra). In between hopping around real-world Europe (sometimes with your friend and current lodger, Joris, in tow), you’ll also be helping Dana, your bestie back home, with her fledgling career. Times when you’re talking or texting on the phone and using computers balance the old with the modern.
A port of a computer game from last year, Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit excels where many comparable games struggle. First and foremost, it gives you a ton to click on. Too many recent games in this genre limit you to clicking on puzzle elements alone. Besides cutting down on the challenge, this approach robs games of charm. Here, the packed screens and full inventory push all the right buttons for genre fans. More is more in this case, and you really need to think. Experimenting and looking at items more closely is a must. The latter also leads to some fun dialogue that adds character.
Speaking of character, the game is fully voiced, and the acting is professional. While some actors have multiple roles, this is mainly with secondary characters. The leads primarily consist of professionals. Milda’s voice actor (heard in games like Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity) adds believability to a solidly written character. Denny Delk (taking on dual in-game roles) is a veteran from the genre’s most popular days in the ’90s, heard in such classics as Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Day of the Tentacle, and Full Throttle, to name a few. The music’s pleasant (one puzzle even incorporates it in a refreshing way), but it’s these vocals that especially elevate this game’s audio package. You can adjust individual volumes in the settings, which is always appreciated.
Augmenting audio is the graphics with a neat hand-painted art style that really makes the foreground pop. The environments (again, with real-world locales) are appealing, although hotspot icons can distract. A nice visual touch is the ability to change Milda’s look—from her hair to head-to-toe outfits. This refashioning is even used on more than one occasion for solving puzzles, which reflects a sort of brilliance that I can’t neglect to mention.
While there are a couple that might leave you wondering, “Why?” puzzles generally make sense within the genre, so you can breathe a sigh of relief and anticipate those “aha” moments. Admittedly, players newer to the genre might feel overwhelmed, but veterans should navigate the puzzles pretty smoothly. The one area that could trip up players of all experience and skill levels are sequences that require careful timing. Generally, transitions like these are looked at unfavorably by more genre fans than not; so much so that most games like this will allow for skipping. Twice, Crowns and Pawns employs this technique, and back to back, no less. This highly questionable decision annoyed us, as the controls aren’t ideal for this type of setup. The game also lacks touchscreen controls, a sizable mistake bound to disappoint handheld players. Time restrictions are the exception, not the rule, thank goodness.
Crowns and Pawns is a high-quality game that impresses in many ways by embracing the best of classic point-and-click design. There is even replay value, as different decisions lead to different puzzles—something noteworthy, indeed. Interesting reading and easter eggs to other genre classics are the icing on the memorable cake. Don’t let some user interface issues detract, as this is an adventure worth seeing through to the end. It leaves you wanting more, so here’s hoping for a longer sequel with superior closure.
Review: Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit (Nintendo Switch)
Crowns and Pawns is a high-quality game that impresses in many ways by embracing the best of classic point-and-click design. There is even replay value, as different decisions lead to different puzzles—something noteworthy, indeed. Interesting reading and easter eggs to other genre classics are the icing on the memorable cake. Don’t let some user interface issues detract, as this is an adventure worth seeing through to the end.