Lornsword Winter Chronicle (PC) Review (Early Access)
War Never Changes … Right?
War is a meat grinder, and the field of battle has no place for honor and pride. However, evil prevails when good men do nothing. History is full of tales of good men going to war, protecting their homes and families, of answering the call when their country needs them. Ultimately this is just another of those tales, a story of a man doing his duty and trying to return to his family.
Lornsword Winter Chronicle is a high fantasy strategy game with lots of hands-on action. It’s story, that while not as old as time, is still a classic one. The plot follows the rise of a simple hedge knight to a well renowned general and all the politics and corruption that go with it. While not highly original it serves game progression adequately. The bulk of the gameplay, much like its story, is not that original. Each chapter has you building your forces and defenses while being hindered by the amount of gold and food you have on hand. Gold and food can be increased by finding abandoned farms and gold veins and then claiming them as your own, as well as improving various assets to produce additional gold. What they have done different is that rather than using a cursor as an interface, you control an avatar on the field. This feature allows more action-oriented gameplay as each change you want to make requires your avatar physically moving to that location first. With this avatar, you can also directly attack objects and can turn the tides of battle with elemental summons to do limited but powerful damage. In addition, the use of an avatar allows for two player mode with each player sharing resources, and a split screen allowing for battles to happen on different fronts. This format, while refreshing, becomes more frustrating than fun. The first problem is that for it to work, they have the camera angle is set relatively close to your avatar. This, regrettably, makes it hard to see and maintain the field. They do give you an option to pan your camera to particular spots, but this feature doesn’t really allow proactive actions. The next issue is that to direct troops or interact with anything, as previously stated, requires you to run there. There is no real way to direct your forces from far away, and the AI that they are equipped with is very limited. Finally, you don’t have much variety to your forces. There are three types of troops and only one passive defense item.
Graphics are crisp and clean, accompanied by a classical fantasy soundtrack. Combined with the top down camera angle, players will be reminded of various D&D games such as Icewind Dale and Baldur’s Gate. A nice design detail is that the interaction point for modifying various buildings is hidden as a symbol on the building. Looking similar to a Greek key or Nordic rune they will glow white when near but otherwise remain unnoticed. The Story is told between chapters with decorative paintings reminiscent of backlit stained glass and accompanied by impressive voice acting. While there is nothing wrong with the graphics, they are bland. They lack any spice or variety that would make them stand out from the pack.
Lornsword Winter Chronicle gave a unique twist to the classic strategy style. They either did not add enough or added too much because we are left with a product that stands awkwardly in the middle. As this is early access, things may change, but what they currently have doesn’t improve the genre for new players and hinders existing fans.