Please allow me to precursor this review with the following, I am not a long-term Turn Based Strategy gamer, since playing the game and writing this review I have discovered that the Eador games and Turn Based Strategy games are a much-loved area of PC gaming that has, to be perfectly honest, skipped me by. As such this review is written from the perspective of someone who is new to the series and the genre.
An old man turns up in a village, he spots a young child, he likes the child and sees their potential, he pays the child’s parents gold, the man now owns the child. Yes this sounds like a disturbing plot, and that’s because we are jaded by scandals and sickos in the world. In the world of Eador this plot seems mildly logical. From here you are given the opportunity to choose your class, but not race. For a game that in the end becomes one of the most complicated gaming experiences of my life, the game has reduced the role play aspect. Later in the game you choose alliances with various races, be it Undead or Elves. For now I went with my current Green Arrow obsession and chose the Ranger class. Keeping my distance and do damage is my general go to tactic in strategic games.
‘Turn Based Strategy’ games are to me the closest you will get to a board game in digital form, short of playing Monopoly or Cluedo online. The thrust of the game is to win skirmishes, the battlefield is covered in a hexagonal grid, and here we have our board for the game. Yourself and some AI team mates on one side, and your opponents on the other. Using your characters own abilities and stats complimented by a team of AI, that in my case were made up of melee red shirts, you must kill all enemies. Like in most tabletop battle games your characters have a set number of spaces they can move, using this number in conjunction with attacks, and troop placement, it provides a brilliantly exciting battle. This is the best part of the game for me as it was actually a simple process, everything else is complicated, more complicated than I’d care to admit. The tutorial took you through a battle in relatively simple terms, clicking through the text scrolls I understood my objectives and basic tactics. Then other elements were thrown in, for example on the world map you can choose to explore a location or skip it by.
Imagine the world was kind of flat, and then someone strong with a hammer, lets for argument’s sake call him Jerry, comes in and smashes the world with said hammer. Jerry would then have many pieces of the same world floating around, this is the setting for Eador: Masters of the Broken World, Shards floating in space..Minus Jerry. Each Shard has its own feel, enemies, style and “chosen child taken by an old man”. The Shards effect your battlefield, they could produce more rough terrain or more defense, swamps slow you down but height can aid your attack. You in your infinite, slightly megalomaniac, wisdom have decided that owning all the shards is the way forward. Whilst playing Eador it’s very easy to get confused and think you are actually the bad guy in the fantasy realm, but no matter, I had a job to do and by god I was going to do it.
This game is deep, painfully deep. Whilst both exploring and fighting you also have to manage loot that you pick up from fallen enemies or buy from the shops, class specific armour and weapons always interests me in RPGs. I love finding that new bow or leather armour that makes me feel hardcore for a few rounds. Put on top of that you also have to buy and manage troops and the game starts to get a bit too deep, on top of that there is a whole sub game of taking over areas and building new cities, in which you are given far too many building options with a cryptic way of showing what other buildings are required before you can access the one you want. Some may see this depth as a positive, and on the most part I did, I just wish the game was on my side and willing to hold my hand rather than just use their hand to slap some of my teeth out. When contending with followers or “acolytes” as I liked to refer to them it’s easy to think these minions can look after them selves, but no, they sometimes get their pants in a twist and decide a revolt is in order, it’s like they don’t want me to try to take over every Shard I see.
I played this on my laptop, my laptop isn’t a gaming rig however it does have a quite beefy selection of RAM and the graphics card hasn’t had issues before, so for a game that I had presumed would be quite simple to run it turned out to be painfully intensive on my machine. Frame rate issues plague the game and despite my machine meeting required specs I just didn’t stand a chance. Updates have been released since that supposedly fix these issues but I am yet to see huge improvements. I turned resolution and details down to low which did somewhat reduce game fun but it did mean it was playable. One thing about the resolution, I only realised after about 45 minutes that none of the games resolution settings were usable for my widescreen laptop, I realised that the top of the shop screen was cut off, not a game breaker but annoying. The game is also slightly temperamental, it’s crashed numerous times for me, not allowed me to click end turn or just hung for a minute before moving on. Even with all of these issues the game is still a ball to play. The presumption and hope are that Snowbird Games releases some more updates to just iron out these problems at which point it will be a great and immersive game.
Fans of genre will be happy with the complexity and depth of the game but people new to the series or turn based strategy games may want to start somewhere simpler to ease them in. The game has so many little features that it would take far too long for me to comprehend them and explain them, some aid the game in its aim but others just are the icing on the cake of complication. There’s a lot to recommend here, but with gripes holding it back this game may best be kept for the hardcore.
+Deep and satisfying
-Scarey to players new to genre
-Tutorial is a slog and confusing
+Really well presented
-AMAZINGLY computer intensive, despite looking quite simple
+Soundtrack is up there with the best, really nice fantasy affair