It's a pity that the vagaries of publishing schedules mean that this review will be appearing in early January, rather than alongside the shrewd pre-Christmas release date of A World of Keflings, because in more ways than one this is a very festive game. Not just for the snowy landscapes that have been placed front and centre in its Xbox Live promotions (they're hardly central to the game, it turns out) but for the sheer generosity of spirit that infuses the experience.
This is a game that almost falls over itself in its puppy dog rush to give you stuff. "Have some Achievements," it smiles. "Oh, go on, here's some gamer pictures as well," it adds. "You've earned them. And, look, these avatar items are just sitting around in a cupboard. You can have those too." They're proper avatar items and all – a comedy winged helmet and a pet dragon, not just a t-shirt with a logo on it. "Thank you, A World of Keflings," you'll sigh, as you snuggle into its cosy, comfy routine, letting the gifts roll in.
Much like its 2008 predecessor, A Kingdom for Keflings, A World of Keflings is gaming comfort food. A thick winter warmer of a game, served with a toasted crusty roll. It is, however, virtually the same recipe we were served before.
The concept is identical. Your avatar has entered the domain of the Keflings, curious Trumpton-style characters who desperately need some help in building up their world. Towering over your newfound friends, and with an understanding of resource management and planning games drawn from years of Sim City and The Settlers, you're perfectly placed to help shape their dreams.
Interaction is as simple as walking over to a Kefling and picking them up. Put them down next to a tree and they'll become a woodcutter, and will start chopping away until you tell them otherwise. Put them next to a rock and they become a miner. Put them next to a pile of mined rock or chopped wood and they become a transporter. Just pick them up and plop them down wherever you need the goods delivered and they'll follow the path back and forth, taking the resources to the next stage of the operation.
That would be workshops, where the composite parts of new buildings are created. Gradually, as you work your way through the resources of the Kefling world, you'll go from using raw logs to cut planks to carved wooden features, or whatever the appropriate path is for each resource. Putting new buildings together is simply a matter of getting the blueprint, ordering the parts from the various workshops, and then placing the pieces in the correct pattern on the ground. Once in place, the building pops into life.
Wood, stone and magic crystals are all in plentiful supply, but your most finite resource is the number of tiny helpers carrying out your orders. New Keflings join the fray whenever you build a new house or cottage, but these must be activated with a love heart, earned for meeting the needs of the Kefling population or unearthed during your exploration or excavations. It is, in most respects, the exact same game from 2008, right down to the building types available and the order they become available.