United Penguin Kingdom Review


United Penguin Kingdom is a city builder where you have to protect your penguin colony from attack waves of seals and orcas. Developed by Turquoise Revival Games and published by GrabTheGames and UpgradePoint, it is a game that sounds like it was made with Linux in mind, but don’t be fooled. There is no native support, but it works well with Proton.

My first impression was that it would be a chill building game with many opportunities for cute photos. The models are nice, and you can see the penguins using some of the buildings they are working or relaxing in. You can press the “T” to hide the HUD to help with screenshots.

The loading pages tell you that the orca will just destroy buildings and the seals will steal food, there is no real wild life gore in this game.

The chill part was a mistake of mine, once I realized I was just following a task list rather than enjoying setting up a penguin colony, the magic was gone.

The game follows a generic progression pattern rooted in science points, to unlock new buildings, and materials, limiting what you can construct and when. And your main source of materials is the tasks presented to you.

From the beginning, you will be presented with simple tasks: unlock this building, build it and produce something in a couple of months. This will give you enough materials for the next building.

I tried to branch out from the tasks and do my own thing, like building multiple defense towers or material generation building, just to realize I had to sell them all and go back to following the tasks.

It can be a bit overwhelming when you first see the number of resources you have to manager, but the building materials are part of the progression that locks you into doing tasks for a while, and preventing you from branching the “taskline”.

The first material you can produce is icy blocks, but initial buildings might require garbage, wood, plastics, stone and metal. And those you can only get earlier from doing tasks, midgame from favours from the King Penguin where you trade your reputation (awarded by following more tasks) for resources, and later by unlocking the production building.

My first attempt to branch out was when I realized most buildings needed wood, but it was cut short (pun intended) because the wood manufacturing building was locked in the science research page with no realistic way to unlock.

The other building was the ocean garbage collector, more realistic to unlock, and weirdly, I had the materials to build. By constructing it, I could not build anything else, so I could not finish more tasks, and consequentially I was unable to get the materials locked from me in this weird progression system. I sold the garbage collector and went back to doing tasks until I got the task to build this facility.

I had to sell buildings for materials many times in the game, and it always reinforces you with that feeling you are doing something wrong if you are not following the tasks.

Once I reached the part where I could exchange things for reputation, I destroyed mine just so I could increase my defenses and boost my production. Soon to learn by and event in the game that your reputation level is how you progress in the game.

The game has a calendar system, that shows you the events to come, like new penguins arriving, yearly income, or attacks from orca or a group of seals. They serve, in theory, to help you prepare.

You might have the materials to house new penguins, but never enough to handle the seals. I had to sell so many defence towers, so I could build other buildings and progress the tasks, or sell other buildings in lieu of defense but never in time for the attacks. All in all, the damage the seals cause to your food in the beginning is so small that you can just ignore the mass attacks for a while.

The orcas, on the other hand, will destroy your shoreline buildings, there is no way to fend them off with the early techs, when an orca attack is about to happen I would just delete the buildings and build it again. I think that caused some bugs, as I was not notified of the next attack in the calendar.

I could not brush off this feeling that a cookie cutter was used in this game, it weirded me out from the Tutorial - where I got 14 achievements upon completion: you build a building, you started the game, hooray! - to the end of my regular gameplay. It felt “generic”. The company has a similar game around, called Oxigen, everything looks the same, but they do not have penguins.

United Penguin Kingdom is out on Steam.

A key provided to us by the publisher