EA SCOUT the last line of defense for buying on Steam's Early Access
by Johnathan Irwin
previewed on PC
Do You Remember?
I have a question for you; do you remember a little game called Kingdom Under Fire? While its sequel was a standard hack-and-slash, the original was something special. It was a blend of a hack íní slash and a strategy game. Youíd fight alongside soldiers as a hero character, guiding them to glory or defeat in a fun and sometimes frustrating manner. It was a great game for its time, and then it just sort of fell out of existence when the third game that was promising to return to its roots was in production. Fast forward to 2019, and Tower Five appears with Lornsword Winter Chronicle. The description of it as a blend of an RPG and a strategy game instantly made me think of Kingdom Under Fire, so of course I jumped at the chance to try it out.
Off To War
The game begins with the player taking on the role of Corun Lan Ka, reflecting on the troubles of the day as conflict seems to be drawing ever nearer. Rest assured, that day will come and Corun is sent to war, leaving his life behind. The cutscenes have an incredibly appealing art style that reminds me of a blend of oil paintings and cell shading. I apologize if thatís an odd descriptor, but thatís the best way I could think to word it. Itís not a style Iíve seen before myself, and Iíd like to see smaller titles (RPGs in particular) utilize this if they canít deliver good CGI cutscenes. The plot itself isnít as inviting as the cutscenes, but itís not bad either. It just seems fairly by the numbers to keep Corunís adventure going forward.
Commander And Combatant
The RTS side of the game is pretty straightforward. Different types of buildings hold different units to recruit for the cause, building farms and mines to increase resource limits and production efficiency. The player can recruit up to ten units to come with him at a time, in addition to using different types of elementals (your standard earth, wind, fire and water) in combat. Once your forces are amassed, you can venture off to war.
Combat is relatively straightforward, a might-makes-right sort of affair. Thatís not entirely off-putting, but for the RTS side of things to matter there has to be a bit more variety in the tactics than just throwing yourself against the enemy. I want to be more encouraged to do hit and run tactics, ambushes etc. than just throwing one wall of troops against another, or against an enemy base.
From controls standpoint, the game handles well after a brief learning curve. Your basic WASD keys are used to move, but attacking is done with Delete, sprint with End, ultimate with Page Down and building with Page Up. I don't really care for that, so even once I had the keyboard controls down I opted to switch over to a controller. Even for an RPG mixed with an RTS, playing with a controller just feels wrong but it was way more efficient than coming to terms with the keyboard controls.
Hold The Line
With a price tag of $18.99, it feels about the right price for an Early Access title with what the game has so far, and with the roadmap of whatís to come. Lornsword Winter Chronicle is expected later this year and the final product will even have pvp functionality and Iím excited to see how that plays out. The development team is also paying close attention to user feedback, so even though I think right now it may be better to wait until full release to jump in, itís always good to see such a communicative team.
The game has potential, but we're not ready to jump in with both feet. If the game interests you, look, but don't touch - yet.