Step into a world of fantasy with Awakening Kingdoms, a free-to-play game that explores a country that has been left in ruins and battles the powers of sinister magic. You receive a message from the queen’s owl imploring you to help rebuild the kingdom and its once-impressive castle. Adventure through hidden pictures and play brain-teasing side puzzles to collect necessary items, and to unlock additional scenes and map pieces. Along the way you’ll meet villagers who will help you, and who will send you on missions for their particular needs too.
As with most hidden object games, Awakening Kingdoms offers energy with a set maximum that allows you to play the hidden object scenes. The energy recharges at the rate of one energy unit every three minutes in the beginning, though later upgrades allow you to recharge faster or raise your maximum. Every time you level up, your energy refills and the maximum increases by 10 units until you hit an overall maximum of 1,000 units. Gaining trophies in each scene will unlock extra modes and sometimes extra missions, but will also increase the energy costs.
Collect materials, coins and collectibles by playing hidden object scenes . The materials are used to fulfill missions and to rebuild the structures in the town. Collectibles go into sets, and those sets are exchanged for anything from a few coins to massive energy refills or rare items. You also collect “game token” type objects, which are used in lieu of energy to play the puzzles inside each building.
Casual gameplay is the mode of the day. There is no timer, but you do get extra coins and rewards if you finish quickly. This aspect has made the game a favorite with my 10-year-old and 5-year-old, though I’m the one who usually plays it – in other words, it’s good clean fun for all ages.
Hidden object games really do come in all over the map for complexity, and I’d call Awakening Kingdoms a beginner to intermediate level game. The scenes near the beginning are fairly obvious, and they’re not terribly obscure even further on. When compared to games such as Dark Manor, also by Big Fish Games, this one comes in well below it for required skills. This is nice when you want to share it with the kids, or just want to do something empty-headed without thinking about it, but it can get boring a bit too quickly for puzzle lovers.
The missions range from super-easy things with 10XP payouts – give 100 coins, let’s say, or 15 pieces of wood – up to missions that can literally take weeks to accomplish. The far end of this spectrum is the Dark Chest, which you’ll encounter waaaaaay down the line. Note that my timelines are without using in-game purchases; you can buy energy, power-ups of various kinds, coins and crystals to speed the game along. Call me old-fashioned, but I like puttering along at the free speed so I can enjoy it longer and not spend money. To answer that popular question – yes, you can absolutely play this entire game without spending money.
Mini-games are part of every structure in your kingdom, and that kingdom eventually expands to several different villages. Yes, there are a lot of mini-games that way. Some are quite similar to each other, i.e. a match tile game that shows up in two different buildings, but they’re fun and have different costs. The only ones that are actually challenging, in my humble opinion, are the ones that involve untangling shapes by moving around nodes until no lines cross, and the solitaire ones where you must clear all the cards. Again, the nice thing about this casual setup is that it’s really easy to get kids involved or to just use it to unwind.
Atmosphere is really important to all games, but it seems even more important in casual games like this. Awakening Kingdoms fosters a light-hearted, whimsical atmosphere that’s reflected in the lighthearted Renaissance-type music in the background. The sound effects are the light coin clinks and “pixie chimes” you’d expect from this kind of game, which can be heard (along with the background music) in this short game trailer:
As you can see from the video, the graphics are not terribly high-tech. They do get more detailed inside the hidden object scenes later on in the game, though, so the challenge does increase at a decent rate.
While Awakening Kingdoms has worked problem-free for me for months now, it wasn’t always that way. In fact, I originally downloaded the game well over a year ago, but then had to stop playing for quite a while after making it about halfway through the game. Why? Because the entire thing decided to restart on me without any rhyme or reason. Yes, I marked down my overall rating of the game a full star for this, even though it seems like they’ve fixed it now. Over the next several weeks after it restarted my game, I tried to play a few different times – and it failed to save my progress each time and started me at the very beginning.
Today, they seem to have that particular problem fixed. Now there are online logins that are apparently designed to prevent loss of game information, and I was able to get to the end of the currently existing game without further issue.
The only other problem I’ve had is that my computer randomly shuts down sometimes when I play, but that may be my computer’s fault – it is a graphics-heavy game, and I think I may be overtaxing and overheating my system. It’s a good laptop, but one of the earlier liquid-cooled SSD hybrids that has had some other overheating issues, so I’m inclined to just blame the computer on that one unless you, my wonderful reader, have also had similar issues while playing Awakening Kingdoms.
Once we got past that horrid restarting bug, I’ve loved the heck out of Awakening Kingdoms. In fact, though I’m not a big gamer, I enjoyed it so much that I played daily for months. There’s a cumulative daily bonus that hit about day 130 before I missed a day. After that, I only missed days because I’d hit the end of all the currently existing missions. I’ve built up all of my buildings, I’ve amassed incredible amounts of resources and hit the maximum energy reserve level. It took months, but it was finally time to move on to some other game – until they update and add more.
If you like casual hidden object games, or if you’re looking to get reading-age kids into it (one type of scene has the clues written out), then Awakening Kingdoms is a great one to do. While I definitely want you to be informed of past bugs, they do seem to be in the past and haven’t been a problem – for me, anyway – in a long time.