The fantasy genre is one we’ve become very familiar with. Certain things spring to mind immediately; spectacular castles, knights in gleaming armour, dragons and ferocious beasts. What does not spring to mind, is Germany.
But that’s what we get with Legends of Eisenwald. A very Germanic, medieval setting with very little in terms of what I’d call ‘fantasy’. Certainly you’re not going to mistake it for a Dungeons & Dragons playthrough. Little magic or supernatural phenomenon here, instead Eisenwald envelops you in medieval politics far more than fantasy, quite a refreshing change from what we’ve become so used to.
Legends of Eisenwald is a Kickstarter funded, tactics based RPG developed by Aterdux Entertainment. Graphically the game looks pretty good, especially for a Kickstarter funded game, and most noticeably when overlooking the map as your character travels. You begin the game picking a character, either a highborn lord, which acts as the melee class, baroness, which acts as a ranger, or a priest. You’re then set off into the world. During your travels you’re able to grow your party, up to a total of 12 units, a mix of melee, ranged and support based characters.
Combat is simple, each unit takes a turn to attack, or heal or buff allies in the case of support characters, meaning the only real tactical choice is who to attack and when, while being aware of units that can’t move or attack due to being in the combat zones of enemies. Levelling characters up grants you more and more abilities, such as stuns, but ultimately the combat remains the same. The quick pace of combat helps quell things ever becoming boring, but combat tends to get repetitive.
I had hoped that sieges would bring in a new and exciting element when I’d first had my attention brought to them in the games introduction, but instead of adding a new dimension, castle sieges merely remove a portion of your party’s health prior to battle. A shame, since sieges are necessary to earn more money in the game, and increase your number of units. Even a pre-fight mini-game to determine how much health you’d lose would at least bring in a new dynamic to stifle the repetitive battles.
The story itself, meanwhile, is fairly enjoyable, but comes with its own problems. It takes a fair amount of work to actually feel immersed, as all dialogue is written into text boxes. That makes it far too easy to merely click away and just do whatever it is that your quest is, which usually is ‘go to quest location and have a fight.’ It’s also very difficult to grow any sort of emotional attachment to any of the characters, since everything seems to be so fleeting with them.
However if you’re willing to put some time into it, the story is really rather good. It’s a combination of medieval tavern humour about ale and buxom wenches, and intense stories of vengeance, betrayal and politics.
But the main issue with Legends of Eisenwald is that it’s far too difficult to know what to do next. Quests aren’t always triggered unless you’re in the exact spot the game expects you to be, which can lead to frustrating Google searches mid-game to find out how you’re meant to progress.
All in all, Legends of Eisenwald could be a thoroughly enjoyable game if only it had a bit more time spent on it. As it stands, it requires far too much effort to become immersed in the enjoyable story, which is a real shame, and the repetitive combat begins to drain after a while. Still, if you’re a fan of turn-based combat, and what something different from the standard fantasy-RPG, Legends of Eisenwald may well be for you. It’s currently available on Steam for £22.99.
Reviewed on PC