Being in charge of a whole community, keeping an eye on food, shelter, wealth and defense can be a stressful – and full-time – job. That’s the case with most strategy games as I chuck many a job on my to-do list, always feeling a bit stressed in the process.
In Rising Lords, you get to play as a leader of a medieval society trying to live their life while destroying those who are trying to invade. It’s a strategy and card-based game that has lots going for it, but is it too complicated?
There is a lot to do in Rising Lords and the price asked for entry means it is well worth its bang for buck. You have a story mode, a skirmish mode, some challenge modes, and then the good-old fashioned multiplayer. But in Rising Lords you must start with the tutorial because, like loads of games in this genre, there is a lot to learn.
In the campaign mode, there is a story to make your way through, powered by the turn-based strategy gameplay. Before each turn of the day a scroll arrives, text and illustration presented. You are a young lord who has been thrust into the limelight because of various reasons. You need to keep your town safe and provide wealth and opportunity to all who serve you. It’s a nice bit of narrative to break up the gameplay and while it’s not anything groundbreaking, Rising Lords manages to tell a good tale.
Let’s begin by talking about the first part of the gameplay found in Rising Lords – the resource management. Like games of old you produce workers who will go out into the fields to get food or in the forest to get wood. Soon your focus will be placed on mining, then soldiers, and then upgrades. Before you know it you have a fully-fledged up-and-coming society, one complete with power and coin. It’s quite an easy system to get used to in Rising Lords too; you just drag a peasant over to the area you want them in and they start working. It’s one of the simplest systems in play and never too hard to get the resources coming in to keep the population happy. You can manage taxes and rations too. Mostly though, it’s all about getting the right balance.
The big events come in the form of the battles you have. Army creation allows you to decide the soldiers you want, from a mixture of knights, archery, spearmen, and peasant grunts. Then you have some points you can use to get cards that help support these units. These will give you bonuses on certain actions, like ladders to climb battlements or archer bonuses. It’s up to you to choose the right combo.
Those fights and battles take place on a hex map, running turn-based. You place your units in the best environments on the map, archers on hills, spearmen in forests. From there, it’s a case of crossing your fingers and hoping. And the battles in Rising Lords are hard so expect to get beaten down. However, once you get an idea of how Rising Lords plays, it becomes a more enjoyable experience.
Visually and the medieval template has been hammered to great effect. The hand-drawn maps are wonderful and look like they’ve jumped straight out of a book. The characters themselves – your peasants and warriors – have a brilliant textbook feel to them, very much like something out of Pentiment. However, at times the menus can feel overwhelming and the UI used is certainly not as easy on the eye as an Age of Empires IV.
I didn’t think we needed Rising Lords or another strategy resource card battler on Xbox. But there is a great game hidden away in Rising Lords, with lots of options to play through and a good story. The resource side of things is easy to grasp, taking care of itself after a while and whilst the battle system is rock hard, when it clicks, it all makes sense.
For the price alone Rising Lords is a solid entry into the genre, happily providing a cheaper and different look at the genre.