A long time ago, the citizens of Loathing all loathed each other equally, and there was peace in the land...or so the backstory goes.
Kingdom of loathing is a simple, php based browser game, and has kept a fairly loyal fanbase for nearly a decade (and in fact celebrates 9 years as of Feburary 2011). While at first glance, the stick figures and scribbly graphics may seem childish and even offputting, after a while, these become charming and even lovable.
When you start out, you choose from one of 6 comical classes: Seal Clubber and Turtle Tamer, the physical or "muscle" classes, Pastamancer and Sauceror, the "Mystical" classes, and the Disco Bandit and Accordion theif, the two "Moxie" classes, most similar to rogues or thieves from other games. From the time you begin, you're bombarded by puns, puns and more puns. The Meat and potatoes of the game are the large numbers of puns, wordplay and pop-cultural references, such as the Toot Oriel, the NPC that first helps newbies on their way.
The interface itself is simple and click based. Every day, you're given a certain number of adventures (starts out at 40, but the number increases by equipping certain items or having certain decorations at your campground), with a maximum of 200 adventures at a time. You spend them by going to one of the fabulous locations strewn about the monochromatic map. If the name of the place has a number in parenthesis next to it (usually (1), but (2) is not unusual), then it will spend that many adventures. You're given a (usually) humorous paragraph about whatever you are fighting, and some choices, first starting with simply hitting your opponent with whatever weapon you happen to have equipped, but eventually having options such as pickpocketing for Disco Bandits, or "Summoning" for Pastamancers. Occasionally, you'll encounter an adventure that has no combat at all, but some choices to help you on quests.
Places like "The Misspelled Cemetary" have some of the more subtle references.
Some of the elements in the game are riddle or puzzle based, and quite a few are heavily reliant on references. If you're not all that pop culture savvy, then you might need some help with the quests.
Leveling is...well, there's the possibility for grind, as there is with many games, but it can still be pretty fun. Levels aren't really the be all and end all of this game, as they only really determine when you can buy new skills or when you get new story quests from the Council of Loathing, the ever present force trying to make you do its bidding to save the kingdom. And what do you do when you finish the main quests and get to too high of a level to do much of anything? You ascend, of course! Ascension allows you to go back to your innocent days of newbiedom and start over as either an entirely new class, or as the same class you already were.
And what would a game be without pets? Yes, you can get adorable little familiars, from the bloodsucking Mosquito to the adorable Gravy Fairy, even the pets are humorous. Fun fact: for the longest time, you could not name your Blood-Faced Volleyball "Wilson."
The multiplayer aspect is mostly confined to the player run shops, simple PvP and various in game Chat rooms, but work has been done to bring in more multi to the field. If you have a Clan, then you can go to your basement and enter the clan dungeons, which are a constant work in process.
In spite of the casual graphics and simple "gameplay," it's easy to tell that KoL is a game with a lot of effort, love and time, put in by not only the creators, but by the community as a whole. And hey, bugs get fixed pretty fast, and content is added and updated near weekly.