Full Disclosure: I was given a copy of the game for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own. You can learn more about my disclosure policy here.
The Counting Kingdom is the first game from educational startup Little Worlds Interactive, founded by recent Dames Who Make Games interviewee Jenna H. Aimed at kids 6 – 8, The Counting Kingdom is best described as a math based tower defense game with colourful characters and settings.
Players take on the roll of a young wizard, tasked with defending the various castles of the land from a horrible invasion of nasty monsters. This back story is relayed without text in a cute little cutscene at the beginning of the game, and really, that’s about the most story you’re going to get since the focus of the game is really the gameplay.
The way the player vanquishes monsters is by casting spells that correspond to the numbers on the monsters themselves. Players are issued three spells at a time and they can choose to combine spells to make larger numbers, or exchange a spell for a new one, which effectively uses up a turn. Likewise they can combine adjacent monsters to create a sum that matches a spell.
As play progresses, the player will also have access to potions that can add or subtract from a monster, freeze them in place, move them or even destroy them altogether. However, these potions appear randomly and should be used judiciously as a result. As well, new tile types and monsters are added in each level, which keeps things challenging without making any changes to the core gameplay mechanics.
At the end of each turn more monsters are added, until the battering rams show up. If a monster gets to the other side of the grid, one of your towers comes down. If all of your towers come down, you lose. Play progresses through six castles in each of five different territories, all with their own distinct landscape and power-ups.
While The Counting Kingdom is focused on the grade 1 and 2 market, there is some reading involved during tutorials, meaning that weaker readers are better off playing with a grown up present. That said, children of all ages can enjoy the game and benefit from the basic arithmetic practice.
The difficulty curve is gentle and the difficulty of the additions required (larger and larger numbers) is equalized well with better and better potions available. The art is absolutely lovely: friendly and whimsical with a slightly muted palette that would be appealing to both design conscious adults and children alike. The music is bright and cheery, but becomes rather repetitive as you play through the game. However, it can easily be turned off in the Options menu.
All in all, The Counting Kingdom is a fun, fresh take on addition games and I can’t wait to see what Little Worlds Interactive come up with next!
The Counting Kingdom is currently available on Steam for $9.99, with mobile versions on their way in the next year.