Rising Lords is in Pre-Game Release. Aspects of this game are subject to change by developers. This review takes current content into consideration only.
Rising Lords, from Argonwood, borrows from the conquest aspect of Risk and the resource gathering of Civilization but fails to utilize either effectively.
Rising Lords is a turn-based strategy game taking place during the Medieval Age. As the Lord of your people, you must lead them into an era of prosperity, but you mostly destroy other civilizations.
How to Play
The main goal, for now, is to conquer the entire map. The developers plan to introduce more win conditions as the Alpha continues, but there is currently only one method of winning. Based on gameplay, it seems that destroying your enemies would be the only worthwhile option, even if others were presented.
In Rising Lords, you must build up your cities and keep your population happy by finding a balance between how many rations you give them and how much you take from them in tithes, or taxes. Depending on how happy your population is, you may attract migrants from other cities who will help your city grow, but too many people and not enough housing will cause beggars to appear.
To prevent this, you must construct upgrades for your city, but if you don’t have the essential resources (such as wood, wool, iron and stone) you won’t be able to do so and are essentially out of luck, which leaves you with only one option: attacking other cities to steal what’s theirs.
The formation of armies is based off of the population from each city. You can arm peasants with sticks or create weaponry at the smith; only then will you be able to muster a strong army. The more time and resources you spend, the larger your army will be, but there doesn’t seem to be any motivation for you to take your time. If your cities are prosperous enough, you will grow and spend your resources on equipment rather than taking the time to build more city upgrades. It feels like a race against the clock of your own population to build armies and buildings.
Fight for your Kingdom
Moving onto the combat: combat scenarios happen when you meet another army on the landscape. Fighting is the best part of the game. This is where you feel the most control over the game rather than passively allowing things to happen to you. It is as simple as clicking on your opponent’s units with your own and hoping you win your battle.
Rising Lords is a turn based strategy game, but it doesn’t feel right. Every time you end your turn, a very slow season change occurs. I find myself waiting after every turn in my single player scenario just to end it again because the construction of a building hasn’t finished.
This game is not kind to new players; without a tutorial mode, players are thrown into a scenario without any real idea on how to play. Even after playing for multiple hours, I am still introduced with new concepts but no explanation on what I am to do with them. For example, a master hunter appeared in my forests, yet I was never told how to utilize him. He still sits in my forest to this day, doing nothing.
At times, I found that my tax and ration rates for my cities would change on their own. It would only notify me when the citizens were ready to rebel against me.
The game is incredibly slow, and I cannot imagine playing it with other people online. I can see it solely as a player vs CPU game. The length of battles and the time it takes to go through all of your cities would make the game take ages online. I would not recommend having my friends play against me in this because I don’t want to put them through playing the actual game.
While Rising Lords has great intentions with the idea of beggars, food rationing, resource gathering and the combat, including multiple abilities, it just doesn’t deliver on what could be a fun game. The beautiful hand-drawn art style of this game feels wasted on poor mechanics. The music is enjoyable, at first, but after you listen to it a few times, you notice that the mix just isn’t right.
Overall, I believe that Rising Lords has potential with some creative features. But the poor execution of these features makes the game a chore to play. Hopefully, Argonwood can fix a large amount of the issues this game faces to create a much more user-friendly game by the time of its release.