Alright, I don’t do reviews anymore except when a game is incredibly good or horrendously bad. And that game falls into the second category.
So, let’s start with the most glaring flaw: the story. It is completely nonexistent. You get maybe one chapter at the beginning (if you can call that a chapter) where you define the PC’s origins and make some interesting choices. That part is good. Heck, I’d almost call it great.
And then the management comes in. Basically, your PC is sent to unify the Central province of the kingdom, through diplomacy or conquest. You have to choose to focus on military, diplomacy or economy. Yeah, sounds great! Or it would be, if economy wasn’t completely overpowered.
Economy gives you (of course) more money but also more food, more troops, more diplomats and overall allows you to completely blast through the game. Now, I’m not saying that this is inaccurate, but literally every bonus you could possibly get from focusing on diplomacy or military (better troops for example) you can get by just investing in the village over and over. What’s the point of having three choices when one is blatantly superior, one is just good (diplomacy), and one is completely useless?
I’d be willing to give it a pass if having a military was the quickest way to power or made defending your territory easier but even for that it’s useless. Why? Because if you are ever so slightly competent at diplomacy, you can get non-aggression pacts with everyone else in the first few turns, meaning you’ll never have to use your army for anything.
There is also the fact the author completely focused on the management system, yet completely forgoed any semblance of realism. First, standing armies weren’t a thing during medieval times. Yet not only can the PC build a permanent force, he can build one that it completely disproportionate for the size of his fief. Seriously, by the end of the game I had 10 soldiers for every civilian. You can have a completely corrupt fief, be plagued by bandits and thieves and have literally everyone conscripted (though for some reason the game doesn’t see recruiting literally everyone in the army as conscription) with no consequence whatsoever.
And don’t get me started on the battle system. Now, granted, I’ve only seen half a dozen battles, but literally every last one of them ended up with me spamming the “send all forces” option, because it was the only one available. And let’s not talk about the tactics. First, you have to teach them to your general. Now, I’m no military expert, but I’m pretty sure one of the greatest generals of the realm would know what a volley of arrows is. And even then, I doubt that my MC, who had zero military experience, would be the best teacher. There is also the problem of how you build your army; namely, it doesn’t matter. For example, I ended up having almost nothing but knights and horsemen, yet I somehow managed to win sieges by ordering my men to charge. Unless those horses were imported from Skyrim and had the ability to defy gravity, I don’t see how that would be possible.
Now, you’ll tell me I’m nitpicky. That in the end, the fun is all that matters. And you’d be right! Fun is much more important than details! Hence why I didn’t have any fun spending nearly 5 hours repeating the same actions over and over until I had enough clout to make every neighboring fief my vassal. Sell the colossal amounts of grain I got, buy horses, train peasants into militia, militia into heavy infantry, heavy infantry into knights, negotiate with my neighbors if I can, upgrade some things, rinse and repeat, going though the same menu every time because the game sends you back to the hub after every action you do. It’s just so tedious, and I can’t even imagine how much of a chore the game is for military focused playthrough.
And then I got to the second management phase and surprise, none of my choices up until then mattered! The economic powerhouse I had built? Its income went from 20-30 thousand gold a turn to barely one thousand. My army? I had only one conflict to deal with, and it was quickly resolved by pressing the “send all of my forces” option a few times. My spy network? The options are incredibly limited. I can choose between maintaining a democracy or supporting a monarchy? Why bother, the timeline already says it’s going to end up in a monarchy. Seriously, never choose the democracy option in a Philip Kempton game, it will always end up becoming a monarchy in the following games for the sake of plot convenience, no matter how little sense that makes.
Then I got a bad ending out of nowhere, with no foreshadowing whatsoever and, most important of all, no checkpoint. One of the longest games I’ve ever played, and there is no checkpoints. Just “game over, start again”. This is just poor game design.
So no, I’m not advising to buy this game. It is fundamentally broken in the places that matters the most (the management system) and the story is so unimportant that by the time I reached the end of the first management phase, I had completely forgotten about it despite of how interesting it had been at the beginning.
The only good thing I can think of, as a code reader and someone who knows how hard it is to make a management system with choicescript, is the colossal amount of work the game must have required to function. Doesn’t take away all the bad points, but that part’s impressive.