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United Penguin Kingdom Review – A Waddle Between Charm and Challenge

United Penguin Kingdom Review

The first thing I was greeted with when I started the game was the cute idea that penguins need to use coolers to combat global warming. From that moment on I knew that United Penguin Kingdom would keep throwing random jokes at me about the lives of technologically evolved penguins, and I wasn’t wrong. As I progressed through the game, the comedic vibe slowly started to disappear, but cute penguins were still really nice to look at.

United Penguin Kingdom is a very relaxing city building game where you will spend the first hours closely looking at each penguin working and making and then just stare at the screen, waiting for time to pass, since you are nowhere near the next city level due to the weird Reputation system, and resources are hard to come by to build some of the newly unlocked buildings.

Graphics – 8/10

United Penguin Kingdom Review Graphics
Screenshot by Raider King

Graphics in this game are weird. The design of the penguins and their buildings is very cute and looks really good. However, the UI looks very much like something you would see in an MMO back in the 00’s and the logos for all the cities give a weird Facebook gaming vibe.

The city is beautiful, and you can zoom in very close to the penguins to follow them while they work. All the building designs are unique and really fit with the overall tone of the game. Here’s an example of a building that just made me laugh the moment it appeared on my screen: the school is a big igloo with two giant, bent pencils on the side, with an entrance that looks like a hat with a nonsensical math equation.

Though the city that you look at most of the time is very beautiful, I just can’t get over the font that the game uses for everything. The UI just doesn’t feel very clean and it can be a bit bothersome at times.

Gameplay – 7/10

United Penguin Kingdom Review Gameplay
Screenshot by Raider King

At the start of United Penguin Kingdom, players will have the choice to place down some of the most important buildings in the village and then start doing whatever they want to expand. The city building isn’t completely “free”, as you will have to build on grids and generally find a way to use all the space to stat boost Happiness.

All of the buildings next to the water risk getting attacked by orcas, which have huge HP and have a high chance of getting away with their crime, and the ones on “land” will usually require energy from windmills and solar panels to work. There are also constant attacks from seals that want to steal food from your cities Food Storage. These constant attacks bring United Penguin Kingdom close to being considered a tower defense game, however, you can easily win just by building 3 defense towers next to each building near water and around 4 next to Food Storages, which trivializes the danger, making them more of a nuisance.

There are also other cities in the penguin kingdom and you will have to defeat them using Reputation points. These points come from completing tasks and growing the city. This generally isn’t a hard “resource” to grow, but it is very fickle and you can fluctuate from 2000 to 4000 Reputation and then back to 2000 in the span of a year.

The main problem you might encounter while playing is the lack of resources. Stone, for example, is the most important resource in the mid-game and there is no way to produce it until the city becomes a Province. However, it is impossible to get to the Province level until Year 4 or 5, if you’ve build a really good city, which means you’ll have to constantly buy Stone from a trader that comes once or twice a year. This mechanic mainly just stangnates the growth of the city while the player is stuck looking at the screen waiting for resources.

Still, once you manage to get a hang of how everything works and what buildings are useful, the city building becomes a very relaxing pastime and the whole gameplay loop doesn’t provide as many challenges as it did at the start.

City Building – 8/10

United Penguin Kingdom Review City Building
Screenshot by Raider King

Each map that you can choose from has a couple of glacier islands and you can build whatever you want on them. The basics are all there, as you are allowed to build virtually anything you want as long as you’ve researched the tech. As buildings evolve, the city looks better and better and the resource rewards from all of them will make you feel like you’ve built a real living entity.

The only real problem I had with the city building in United Penguin Kingdom is the inability to upgrade buildings. Once you’ve learned an evolved version of a building, you can’t just click a button to upgrade it. I had to break down every single house igloo to build an evolved version that takes as many square spaces as the old building. I would understand if the size of the building were different, but in this scenario it just gets tedious to constantly destroy and build new buildings in the old slots each time I get a new piece of tech.

On the other hand, it’s very easy to control what each penguin does, as there’s a menu to the side where you can see which jobs are available and how many penguins are unemployed. At one point it might seem like you have too many uneducated penguins coming into the city, but the game got you handled on that front. There’s a mechanic to send off penguins from the city for money or Reputation, which is a great way of getting rid of the uneducated penguin population.

Progression – 6/10

United Penguin Kingdom Review Progression
Screenshot by Raider King

The progression in this game feels very forced. Since you need to reach a specific rank in the kingdom to unlock a new city level, you will be stuck for a very long time with the same boring buildings and lack of resources. The total number of buildings that you can get isn’t as wide and varied as you might expect from a city builder, but, considering the low price of the game, it shouldn’t come as a shock.

Overall, I think that if the game allowed the ranking of your city to change in real time rather than once a year the progression might not feel as slow as it does right now, which will also bring some more fun to the overall experience.

Generally, progression goes like this: you research new buildings, you build them, you wait for some more Science Points to get new buildings again, repeat. After a while, you might reach the limit of your city level, which means that now you just have to work hard to increase your Reputation, to unlock new types of buildings. It’s a classic technique that many city builders have used for decades and it doesn’t try to break the wheel. 

Performance –10/10

Performance is perfect. I used a mid-tier PC for all of the gameplay and the whole experience was smooth sailing, with 60 FPS all around on Ultra settings. I also didn’t notice any bugs throughout the playthrough, which is really good considering how many hours I spent building up my little penguin settlement. One of the things that impressed me the most was watching a singular penguin going about their day. There are no weird visual bugs no matter what they do, as they go ice skating, reading at the library, or fishing.

Enjoyment – 9/10

United Penguin Kingdom Review Enjoyment
Screenshot by Raider King

Overall, I had a lot of fun playing United Penguin Kingdom, even though there were some tedious parts along the way. The game is very cute, the penguins are really entertaining as they do their daily chores, and the seals are a menace that make you a lot of money each time you destroy them. Though progression feels slow, it is very satisfying when you finally reach the tech you’ve been waiting on for hours.


United Penguin Kingdom Review

Steam Page

United Penguin Kingdom is a small, cute city building game that will certainly scratch the itch of fans of the genre.

Graphics 8
Gameplay 7
City Building 8
Progression 6
Performance 10
Enjoyment 9
Based in Munich, Germany, Adrian Oprea is the Founder of Raider King. He is a writer with a passion for storytelling and a love for all things RPG. When not wielding a keyboard, he can be found exploring fantastical worlds, one quest at a time.
Adrian Oprea
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