When you hear a game is a civilization builder, it might make you think there will be a lot of thought on your part. You know, like you’ll have to make tough decisions. Strategy could be involved. Threats could lurk around every corner. It’s what I thought The Hundred Year Kingdom would be when I started it on the Nintendo Switch. Instead, it’s a more relaxed game with no real challenges, consequences, or critical thinking.
The goal of each The Hundred Year Kingdom run is to create a civilization that stands the test of time. You get a 6×6 tile space as your “world” and 100 in-game years. The first time you play, your only Oracle option is Amaterasu and the World of Vegetation. As you play, you’ll level up the goddesses and earn additional goddesses and worlds. (There are 5 Oracles and 11 worlds total.) Each world is a preset, predetermined place. However, as you go along their increased levels can make earning the three materials for growth easier. Those are culture, food, and production. Each goddess influences certain growth.
Gameplay follows the same pattern each time you play. The map starts out blackened, save for one open space. You need to invest your resources into making spaces available to use. Then, once you do, you need to develop them further to increase your yields. There are no tutorials whatsoever. However, it isn’t too difficult and there aren’t many options. Let’s use an empty plain as an example. It will probably be able to become either farmland or a mine. The former focuses on providing food, while the latter offers production. If you go with farmland, that can turn into a pasture or farm estate. Again, one provides more food, while the other offers production. Eventually, this tree maxes out with either the set item you have increasing its yields or a legacy building like the Palace of Versailles being an option. (Said feature is a winery upgrade.) Culture only comes from city spaces. Which you can’t build. Those have to be present as Settlements or upgraded variants on it already on the map.
Each unlock or upgrade has its own culture, food, and production requirements, which limit your growth. You can also perform one building upgrade each turn. After that, time will advance and a year will pass. While each building’s effect can factor in adjacent areas’ yields, you won’t see them alter possible upgrades in any way. This means attempting to construct certain structures adjacent to each other doesn’t help earn something new. Following the Offering request to attempt to build what your “people” want can offer a boost to one of your three resources. However, it typically isn’t much. The goddess might also offer extra resources each turn. But again, early on it is a drop in the bucket. The really substantial buffs come from the occasional Golden Eras, which tend to happen at least once per run. This massively increases your yearly amount of one kind of resource.
Given that the upgrade tree remains fairly consistent and replaying factors so heavily into what you can do and how much you can earn, it means The Hundred Year Kingdom gets incredibly repetitive. From what I saw during my first three playthroughs, skipping a year seemed like the only way to really impede any progress. As long as you’ve made some developments, you’ll keep accruing the means necessary to get a passing grade.
As far as the localization goes, it is easy enough to understand. I did notice that sometimes a character name might not be translated. For example, during an early conversation I had with Amaterasu, her name was still displayed in Japanese. Freyja’s name is also sometimes Freya. There are some cases where things are awkwardly phrased in the “Offering” section. But text isn’t really a priority here. Which means it isn’t much of an issue.
I also noticed that The Hundred Year Kingdom feels clunky on the Nintendo Switch. This is the sort of game where you are clicking on tiles in a small space repeatedly. On a PC, I could see this being relatively easy with a mouse. On a Switch, you’re limited to buttons. With the isometric perspective, sometimes pressing in a direction might not send you to the square you want. It also means a lot of presses to reach places to double check what’s going on and effects. After an establishment phase took place, I’d find that pressing to access a new area’s choice would occasionally not register. Which would lead to more than one press. That, in turn, could send me into the Build screen when maybe I didn’t want that.
The Library section in the main menu also isn’t very helpful. It lets you look back at your past Cultural Histories (completed civilizations), see the Oracle profiles and building details for the goddesses, and check the Buildings section. I’m most disappointed with the Buildings area. I’d have appreciated if it showed an upgrade path to it, once you unlocked it. (Sometimes, you might forget how to get something like Amsterdam from a farming tile or so on.) But instead, it shows a brief summary, the art, its effect, the necessary resources to create it, and the number of times you built it.
When it comes down to it, The Hundred Year Kingdom’s greatest failing is that it doesn’t make you think. Each session ends up feeling the same. Since the maps aren’t randomly generated, you’re always in the same place. The goddesses only seem to influence one sort of building and are otherwise cosmetic. If you want to get higher scores and more maps, you need to keep replaying the same maps you already unlocked with goddesses earned until they level up and you earn more. Perhaps the best things I can say about it are that it is low pressure and something to do. Which I mean, maybe sometimes you want to just click buttons over and over as numbers go up? It is a very surface-level sort of simulation, which gets quite tedious. At least it only takes about an hour or so to finish a run.
The Hundred Year Kingdom is available on the Nintendo Switch and PC.