Conquest! Medieval Realms PC
Published by: Slitherine
Developed by: Illustrious Software
Sometimes simplicity can be a good thing. Conquest! Medieval Realms is for all intents and purposes a simple strategy game that's easy to get to grips with and yet, like all good strategy games (be they board or computer games) it can be tricky to master. The basic idea is to try and claim 80% of the map's territory (although you may be given other objectives on occasion). The game plays out just like a board game with you moving your pieces around the board in an attempt to claim as many hexes as you can. It's an enjoyable game with a lot of content but it's not as polished as it should be.
Conquest! Medieval Realms offers four campaigns based around the War of the Roses and the 100 Years War. In total there are over thirty scenarios spread across these campaigns and you're given a briefing and some historical information (in text) for each of them. You can also jump into a skirmish battle if you choose with randomly generated maps, which gives you even more replay value. You can also try your hand at making your own scenarios and campaigns thanks to the map, scenario and campaign editors that have been included. When you've had enough of the AI, you can either play online or locally thanks to the inclusion of a Hotseat mode for up to eight players. There is no Play By Email option here though which does seem a little odd given the nature of the game.
There are three main types of units in the game and as you'd expect there's a rock-paper-scissors relationship between the three. Cavalry are good against ranged units who are in turn are good against spear units and they are good against cavalry units. Each unit has three levels with levels two and three being more expensive. Until you've placed an archery range and stables you won't be able to purchase anything other than spear units. You'll have to keep an eye on your finances because should you be unable to afford the upkeep of your units you'll, frustratingly, lose your entire army which can leave you up the proverbial stinky creek without a paddle. You can build markets and mines etc. to increase your income. Income producing buildings can be captured however. In fact splitting territories and reducing the income of your enemies is a sound strategy for victory, particularly when they have a large army to maintain.
As enjoyable as Conquest! Medieval Realms is, it has some stability problems at the time of writing and these are unfortunate. Attempting to change the screen resolution or attempting to go from full screen to windowed mode crashes the game. Even opening the pause menu and attempting to close it resulted in a back to desktop crash. Such instability is rather irritating to say the least. We played the game using the latest update at the time of writing (version 1.8) so hopefully future updates will remedy these problems but for now it's all a bit of a mess. The game is also lacking an end of turn summary. On the bigger maps and against multiple opponents it can be really tricky keeping up with what your opponents have done during their turn.
The presentation of Conquest! Medieval Realms is simple but tasteful. The various units, which look like they've been taken from a medieval themed chess set, all look rather pleasing. The hex-based maps are rather plain in their design but they are easy on the eyes and it's always easy to make out what the specific territory hexes are. The game doesn't use any speech and all of the instructions are given in text. In fact all of the information in the game is given visually either through the use of colour-coding, text or numbers. There isn't an interactive tutorial, which is unfortunate as the game sorely needs one, but there are three tutorial screens that explain how to play the game and provide important pieces of information. Essentially then, Conquest! Medieval Realms is deaf gamer friendly.
Conquest! Medieval Realms is a game that will appeal to those who like their strategy games simple and addictive. You're getting a lot of value for your money here with over thirty scenarios across four campaigns as well as the ability to have Internet and Hotseat multiplayer games. The lack of a Play By Email mode is disappointing however, as are the stability issues that are present in the current version (v1.8) of the game. Hopefully a future update will resolve the stability problems and make Conquest! Medieval Realms a game that strategy fans will want to purchase.