When the Xbox 360 Avatar system was first introduced, one of the first games to support avatars was “A Kingdom for Keflings”, an addictively cute game that I originally thought would be a cheap gimmick to launch the platform. I was happily wrong though, and I began to appreciate playing the game and its laid back approach to constructing a whole city and managing it’s economy.

NinjaBee, the developers, are back and they’ve created a sequel that not only retains the brilliant and fresh gameplay from the first, but it refines the experience and makes it even better.  They have addressed practically every single issue I had with the original, and most importantly they fixed the constant backtracking needed to create structures that would occur in the endgame. You now have AI helpers that will carry building components out to you, and they will even construct buildings for you if you start them off. New features like this really refine the gameplay experience and make AWoK a far superior game to the original.

When AWoK gets rolling it’s an amazingly enjoyable game that keeps you engrossed and constantly aiming for the next buildings and blueprints. Ordering your Keflings to conduct a variety of tasks is fun, and I actually felt like I had accomplished something when I had a well oiled machine running and a number of resources constantly being churned out. Keflings now level up when they undertake a certain task for a set amount of time, which is great for a better sense of role-playing and realism.

Thankfully, you are not just held to one drab looking area, as NinjaBee has created three separate playing environments, each with their own buildings and Keflings that populate them. Even with the other environments you will spend most of your time in the Forest Kingdom and the other two (Ice and Desert) areas feel more like a side quest than an actual separate kingdom. Constructing buildings within each area is also made a lot easier thanks to the new build screen. No longer do you have to consult your blueprint after buying each part, as the construction menu numbers how many of each component you need. NinjaBee has carved a line in the ground between too easy, and too difficult, and they walk it perfectly as they’ve streamlined the construction side of AWoK.

But by far the biggest improvement in this sequel is the inclusion of local co-op. Now you can plug a second control in and get your kids or even your girlfriend playing, and it’s a blast. There’s also four player Xbox LIVE support, however no matter how many people you play with you still retain the same approach to the game. The soundtrack is upbeat and simple to listen to once again and NinjaBee has refined their pleasant looking graphics and the game looks better for it. That being said, I encountered a number of times where the framerate would noticeably dip and it’s enough to detract from the overall gameplay experience.

I would’ve liked to have seen NinjaBee take some mores risks with this game, maybe multiple build trees, and I definitely think the game would benefit from a freeplay sandbox mode.  However, AWoK is definitely a vast improvement and refinement over the original game. Ultimately, AWoK succeeds as being a unique and involving simulation that many people are sure to enjoy, and judging by the improvement in quality from the first game to the second, if there’s ever a third game – it should be amazing.

Here’s The Rundown:

+ Great new core gameplay refinements
+ New additions are awesome!

– Desert and Ice Kingdom could’ve been a bit more fleshed out

– Interface is difficult to use at first

A World of Keflings was developed by NinjaBee and published by Microsoft Game Studios on the Xbox LIVE Arcade. The game released on December 22nd 2010 for a price of 800 Microsoft Points.  A copy was provided for review by NinjaBee and was played til completion before the review was written. The game was played with a Samsung P2350 (1920  x 1080) for display.