Preview: Legends of Eisenwald - Storming the Wrong Castle

The genre bending game proves annoying at times but there are some good ideas here.

by on 24th Dec, 2013

Legends of Eisenwald is one of those games which feels like it's a stepping stone to something greater - a sequel which you hope will refine the mechanics while addressing the problems which affected the original - but as it is, the game, which blends aspects of the strategy and role playing genres is enjoyable in its own way.

Players are presented with a choice of three characters; the knight, the baroness, and the mystic. I chose the baroness Elizabeth, a crossbow wielding noble, and began to play through the tutorial and prologue in which you're confronted with frequent pop up boxes explaining the various aspects of Legends of Eisenwald

Battles and moving about the game world completing quests and capturing castles form the majority of the activities you'll be getting up to. Combat is a relatively straightforward affair, with your 'army' - consisting of a maximum of twelve units including your hero - arranged against the enemy in a tiled battlefield. Infantry form the front line of hexes followed by archers in the second row, and healers and other units at the rear. 

Combat occurs in turns and the order in which your units can attack is decided by their stats but there are limits to what you can do with your soldiers. Archers, including Elizabeth, have only a limited range and are useless against shielded enemies while healers have no means of defending themselves. Mind you, if the enemy is attacking your healer you've most likely already lost. 

While battles essentially boil down to players selecting which enemy to attack with the left mouse key there is an element of strategy here as you decide whether to focus all of your attacks on a single formidable opponent or wear down groups of your foes. These skirmishes quickly escalate in difficulty following the prologue and frustratingly your archers are fixed in position. You get the feeling that battles could be much more dynamic if only you had more freedom to order your units about the battlefield. 

As you win fights against the enemies you encounter you the soldiers in your army level up allowing you to select which stats to improve and which weapons they can carry but your control over how your hero and their army appears is largely limited to the choices you make as they advance in level.

The current build of the game crashes on occassion during battle as well though there are frequent auto-saves which alleviate the problem a good deal. 

Legends of Eisenwald takes place in Medieval Germany and sees a great deal of knights and lords with stilted text based conversations issuing quests and, on more than one occassion, mistaking the sex of Elizabeth which we can likely pin on the same editing process which allowed for an invasion of typos during dialogue. Of course, Aterdux Entertainment, the game's developer - is based in Belarus but one feels they could perhaps have spent a little more of the $83,000 raised during the Kickstarter for a more competent English translation.  

There can be no doubt that mistakes in the text are a minor issue, however. What's more problematic is the map and how players navigate the game world. 

To move about you select a point on the map with a left click and if the command is registered at all, sometimes the game's response can be a bit iffy, your army will head off to your destination but the extent to which they can be moved is curtailed by the view point of the camera which is centered on your army meaning that what you can see changes as you move about the map. There's no way to scroll or rotate the camera which feels like it would be a most useful feature if it were present. 

For the most part, your goal is to capture, and defend, castles which raise revenue allowing you to recruit mercenaries, hire new units to increase the size of your army, or purchase weapons but a siege is no different to any other battle with players taking damage based on the number of archers defending he keep and there's little you can do to help your army before a regular pitched battle takes place and you feel that more could have been done to differentiate these attacks from regular battles. 

Legends of Eisenwald is by no means a bad game but it can be a frustrating one and with future updates many of the gripes listed here may well be resolved. Still, playing the game leaves you with the distinct impression that it needs is a follow up to truly bring to reality Aterdux's impressive vision. 


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