After a long and arduous journey, my men and I rejoiced at the sight of the Whistling Pig. The tavern’s faded sign and dirty exterior belied the warmth and camaraderie I knew lay within its walls. As my followers feasted and reveled at being back in civilization, I carefully surveyed the room, looking for anyone with ill intent.
A man in a dark hood with a hawkish gaze lurked in the corner, but as I pushed forward to get a better look, he was gone. A feeling of unease crept over me; I knew I had to get to the castle to warn the local lord. But first, I would need to hire some of the more able men in this tavern. The road ahead would be no easier than the one we had just left. I cinched my chainmail tighter, rallied my men, and we made haste toward Castle Erlich.
Legends of Eisenwald, developed by Aterdux Entertainment, is a tactical RPG adventure game with a robust questing system and a twisting storyline. The vassals and their lords all have their secrets, it’s up to our hero to uncover the more dastardly ones. Explore the fantasy/medieval setting with the team you choose. Outfit your followers with new weapons, amulets, armor, and potions for the journey to come. Meet NPCs with their own agendas and trust no one. You never know who’s working against you!
The game is split into three types of play: overworld exploration, dialogue/interaction, and turn-based combat. Each chapter has a map that your character can explore to locate new quests, roaming bandits, and established fiefdoms. Conquer a town or castle and its inhabitants must pay you tax. Moreover, as you expand your foothold in the kingdom, you can recruit more followers. But be sure to protect your acquisitions with some strong units or bandits may take your lands from you. Add a plot that will certainly keep you on your toes and Legends of Eisenwald will certainly keep you busy.
After learning how the game operates during the prologue, I was happy to take the training wheels off for chapter one. Legends of Eisenwald largely leaves you alone; there’s no glowing trail or blinking marker for you to follow. You are free to explore the entirety of the map available in the current chapter, including being immediately murdered by highwaymen. Well, that could have gone better… maybe I’ll start exploring a town next time!
I quickly hired an archer and a healer woman to add to my party, being sure to equip a better bow that I had purchased to strength the archer’s attack. Feeling a bit better with some companions, I took to the nearest tavern and heard all about the latest gossip. There was quite a lot and each option added a quest to my journal. I opened up that menu and re-read the quests to see if I could get a better clue as to where to begin. Sure enough, a castle not too far down the road seemed like a good place to start. Clicking my way across the overworld, I sent my character into the castle to talk to the local lord. He informed me about a whole different slew of quests and even allowed me to hire two infantrymen to help me.
The whole game progresses like this, uncovering bits and pieces of a quest while finding new material all the time. Like any good adventure game, you can choose to follow just the story, or you can branch out and feel the richness of the region you’re in. And like any good adventurer, I explored every side quest I could… that’s where you get all the best loot!
I’m always worried when a game includes turn-based combat. If not done correctly, it can ruin the feel and tempo of an otherwise great instalment. More than one promising title has been crippled by its combat. However, Legends of Eisenwald strikes an impressive balance, letting you move through combat as quickly as you choose; slowing down to make important decisions like where to strike or what abilities to use. Add to this the customization available with character upgrades and their individual equipment and combat was one of the most enjoyable things about the game. At each encounter, I was excited to see how my longbowman would perform and I looked forward to getting more equipment for him. Which is what made moving to the next chapter so disappointing.
Chapter two saw me entering the mountains and immediately I realized I was all alone. None of the mercenaries I had hired nor the followers I had gathered came with me. Moreover, their equipment was gone with them, so even after hiring a new archer, I couldn’t outfit him like I wanted to. I tried reloading an earlier save and stripping everyone before progressing, but that didn’t work either. Although my main character still had his gear, it felt a lot like starting over. Perhaps allowing a reduced number of my company to join me, or limiting me to a few inventory items would have been a better choice, but this was really the only black mark on an otherwise great game.
Overall, this is a very polished game and while the gameplay doesn’t vary much, the storyline drives the action nicely. The myriad of options available to the player is fantastic and I really felt like I was assembling my team and making my own choices. Besides having much of my progress wiped after each chapter, I thoroughly enjoyed the title and I encourage anyone who likes fantasy/medieval adventure to give Legends of Eisenwald a try!