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The Taxman Cometh: Patrician IV

Patrician II was one of the earliest game reviews I ever wrote (the first was something called Stunt GP), and the first one that anyone ever told me was any good. It was a game about old-world tax and trading, ambient and cheerful but definitely on the boring side - and it was the moment in which I thought "yes, I am a games journalist." I distinctly remember that Bruges wanted to buy an awful lot of coats, but not a lot else. I don't have a copy of that review anywhere, because I'm hopeless at filing and backups, but as I'm sure that nine-year-old piece of writing is probably awful in the harsh light of 2010, this is probably for the best. Now we have Patrician IV, and it sounds like the same deal - Elite in the middle ages, without any of the shooty-bang-bang. It is German. Oh boy, is it German.

It's nominally coming from a different dev to the earlier Patricians - new studio Gaming Minds. Turns out many of their number hail from the late Ascaron, who disappeared in a stormcloud of financial turmoil not long after releasing Sacred 2. Publisher Kalypso snapped up their IPs and 15 of their staff, and so we have Patrician IV. Here's the teaser trailer, which is absolutely laughable in how little it gives away. Oh, a boat. And a sunset. Sign me up for 14 pre-orders right away! Marketing.

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The trailer may be lousy, but I shan't be surprised if I find myself gravitating towards the game at some point. Sure, if it's anything like its predecessors (which it surely will be), it's going to be very heavy on the numbers, but that kind of no-pressure wandering around a pretty place is exactly the kind of thing I yearn for when I'm hungover or ill. A bit of a backhanded compliment, perhaps, but there's certainly something to be said for games which relax rather than adrenalise our fragile human minds.

Here are the official descriptofacts:

In Patrician IV the player takes on the role of a young merchant in the area of the Baltic and North Sea during the late Middle Age, the zenith of the Hanseatic League and its naval trading empire.

Starting from meagre beginnings as a small stall trader, players must use every skill at their disposal to rise through the merchant ranks and become the most powerful merchant in Europe. The authentic supply and demand-based trading system allows players to grow their business and head out to the high seas to form trading routes with other Hanseatic cities negotiating better prices for the buying and selling of goods.

I like the world 'hanseatic.'

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