Legends of Eisenwald is a testament to a lost art form in gaming. Like Pillars of Eternity, or Divinity: Original Sin, Legends of Eisenwald borrows liberally from popular fantasy titles of the past, but instead it looks towards a different set of titles that, at one time, appealed to a massive audience: Might and Magic and King’s Bounty. It’s an intriguing title that, at best, managed to invoke some of the nostalgia that came from playing those titles as a kid, and, at worst, meandered in terms of pacing due to its weak storyline.
Eisenwald is a tactical turn-based RPG that allows players to take control of up to 12 characters. The battles are fast paced and sacrifice depth for a more streamlined approach. All of the fights take place in cramped hexagonal spaces and there is never any sort of terrain obstacles that might offer solace in the heat of battle.
"It’s an intriguing title that, at best, managed to invoke some of the nostalgia that came from playing those titles as a kid, and, at worst, meandered in terms of pacing due to its weak storyline."
Fights start off in their most basic form -- choose your target and attack it -- but as the game goes on characters will level up and several other abilities can eventually be utilized. It’s certainly not going to appeal to players that demand elaborate skill trees and progression, but there’s something charming about its basic combat system, focusing on satisfying gameplay with no frills. There are other layers of strategy as well. Players can capture castles to earn more money, gain map control, and further improve their unit roster, but there’s not much involved in this mode, in fact, it’s pretty bare-bones. I would’ve liked to see this mode flushed out more, but for now it’s not entirely without merit.
As characters level up I found myself having to make some tough decisions. Should my healer continue down her righteous path, or should I turn her into a witch? Should my swordsmen continue to use a sword and shield or should I let them become more zealous with a two-handed weapon? These choices reminded me a bit of the recent X-Com title, forcing me to make informed decisions that meshed well with the rest of my squad.
"Legends of Eisenwald’s retro-inspired RPG fare is far from perfect, but its satisfying fast-paced combat successfully managed to keep me intrigued and motivated even when other aspects of the title didn’t."
Eisenwald’s story attempts to weave a tale of woefulness, placing the player in a world fraught with corruption and scandal. While it attempts deals with very serious issues like rape, murder, and racism, the problems to the story tries to address never really seem to be more than a superficial means of “shocking” players. There’s no real rhyme or reason to any of the actions the game portrays, and it never gives players the opportunity to deal with the presented issues properly.
Eisenwald’s interface is somewhat frustrating. There were times when it functions without issue and there were other times when I found pausing combat, unit selection, and quest layouts either didn’t work, or they were shoddy and unfocused. Quest layouts were especially frustrating, forcing players to stand in specific spots to trigger events, but not giving any real guidance that would help a player figure it out aside from trial and error.
Legends of Eisenwald’s retro-inspired RPG fare is far from perfect, but its satisfying fast-paced combat successfully managed to keep me intrigued and motivated even when other aspects of the title didn’t. Coupled with its fine musical score and decent graphics I think you’ll find a lot more than expected from a title that evolved from a Kickstarter campaign. I know I certainly did.
Review by: Palmer Sturman | Reviewed on: PC