By Adam Smith on May 18th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.
At its best, King’s Bounty took Heroes of Might and Magic on in its own castle courtyard, stormed the battlements, kicked the po-faced paste out of the venerable old king who sat there wheezing through his life, and then married a zombie and rode off on a spider-steed with the vocal inflections of a country gentleman. Overworld exploration and basic strategic army building, turn-based combat, levelling and loot – it had all those things, but at its best it also had all the bonkers stuff. Legends of Eisenwald aims to be a similar game but takes its theme and atmosphere from a different place, dropping the fantasy cliches of smug elf and bearded dwarf, and aiming instead for a truly gothic late medieval experience.
There’s recently been a Kickstarter project for the game and it has reached its initial funding target, although there are further incentives if money continues to be digitally delivered over the next three days. It’s also one of those projects that was already a good way into development when it joined Kickstarter, the platform being used to spread awareness, finish more quickly and efficiently, and presumably to buy food and pay rent. This means anyone pledging $25 or more should have access to the closed beta by June rather than waiting years to get their grubby paws on anything playable.
The pitch video follows the development team dressed up like a gang of LARPers in what could be excruciating fashion, but it’s actually one of the best I’ve seen. It’s informative, contains plenty of footage of the actual game and everyone involved seems to be just about uncomfortable enough for me to believe they were forced into this by their CEO, who has an actual sword and therefore must be respected. If you were to pledge $9,555 you’d have a sword as well because Aterdux Entertainment will send you one.
Enough about the rewards and the pitch though, what about the game. There’s a combat video from the alpha but if there’s anything more boring to the eye than a HOMM type battle being played out slowly and with commentary I don’t know what it is. I’ll put it here anyway but please don’t watch the first 30 seconds and throw your monitor out of the window. Read about the combat here instead, that’s more helpful.
The important thing about the combat is that every unit will have something to do on every turn, rather than simply trotting around a tiny grid. If you’re engaged with enemies, you fight them until one of you is incapacitated, if you’re not, then you choose who to engage with. Ranged units seem to be handled like artillery, based in a fixed location and firing from there, requiring protection.
These kind of tactical grids have always had a high degree of abstraction, whether it’s in the representation of hundreds of units as a single figure taking up a single space, or the non-existent overview of a hero or commander. Eisenwald seems to embrace that abstract nature and utilise it for a very specific sort of tactical conflict. I like.
I also like these words on the world map, the strategy side of each scenario. Look at these upgrade branches and tell me they’re not far more more pleasing than a tiny goblin turning into a meaty orc that then inexplicably levels up into a dragon.
It all looks mightily impressive and I’ll be taking a look at the beta as soon as it’s available.