Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
If you've never even heard of The Guild 2: Renaissance before, you could be forgiven. It's a relatively obscure mixture of genres (RPG, strategy, business management and medieval life simulation – Phew!) that flew under a lot of people's radars - including my own, until recently.
It doesn't help that virtually all the other Guild games thus far are pretty rough around the edges. (Okay, they're disasters). Fortunately, though, Renaissance is mostly stable.
Set during the – you guessed it- Italian Renaissance, your ultimate goal is to make money and secure your family's dynasty, all while moving up the social ladder. You start from relative poverty (You live in a shack) and eventually move on up to nobility, where you'll dwell in fancy houses and regal estates. Naturally, this is accomplished by greasing the palm of your local corrupt government official so he'll give you and your family higher titles.
Hey, this game is nothing if not realistic.
But to do all of that, you need money. How you pursue fame and fortune is entirely up to you, but running a business is usually a good place to start.
I typically like to run a mercenary camp, level up my characters' speech-related abilities (so I can bribe other corrupt officials more cheaply), assassinate rival political candidates, and send some of my… er... employees to collect tolls from all supply carts that enter the city.
Oddly, this strategy seems to piss off rival dynasties for some reason. I can't imagine why.
That outcome is especially undesirable in Renaissance, because everything is simulated and the other dynasties in the world are all running businesses of their own, and can do everything you can do including said kidnappings and assassinations. Irritating them too early in the game usually results in your dynasty dying a quick death.
Speaking of realistic simulation, even the market's supply is governed entirely by people successfully taking their produced goods into town. This means that you can starve out an entire city by sabotaging all food-producing businesses.
If you like killing, sabotaging, and kidnapping to get ahead in life, you'll probably like Renaissance. It's a unique mix of genres that deserves more attention than it's gotten so far. If you can look past some of the rough edges, you'll discover a hidden gem that's well worth your time.
You can read more of Cohen's writing at CheapGamesGuru.