Legends of Eisenwald

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Legends of Eisenwald Game Poster Image
Historical strategy with new twist on medieval combat.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Defeating outlaws, evildoers important. General good-vs.-evil story.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The player takes on the role of a noble knight liberating castles from bad landowners, thieves. Open-ended nature of game lets players choose path through game.

Ease of Play

Point-and-click navigation, drag-and-drop commands easy to understand. Combat controls more complicated, not overly intuitive, even with tutorial.

Violence

Violence mostly text-driven. Bad guys are put to the sword without the game showing anything. For players who don't wish to indulge in turn-based combat scheme, the computer can resolve battles quickly by with a button hit to get fight results.

Sex

One quest involves a woman using her daughter as a prostitute; nothing shown.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some scenes take place in a tavern; references made about drinking ale, but no depictions of alcohol use.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Legends of Eisenwald is a downloadable medieval-themed single-player game that combines elements of role-playing with turn-based, tactical combat. The game does try to reflect the times, but graphically there are no depictions of violence (when units dies in battle, they simply fall down), and the quests are text-driven with a static image overlay. Similarly, there may be references to prostitution or drinking, but nothing is shown. Though the basic inventory and movement controls are easy to grasp, the combat mechanics (apart from the quick-battle-resolve button) do take some time to learn. Fortunately, there's a tutorial.

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What's it about?

LEGENDS OF EISENWALD mixes fantasy with reality to create a world based on medieval Germany and draws from the flavor of the times with open-world adventuring and turn-based combat. Players select a hero and then build an army around that character, taking on corrupt land barons, pirates, brigands, and outlaws while building up an army. The story is nonlinear, and oftentimes listening to rumors at taverns opens the door to new quests. Laying siege to and gaining castles allow players to build their armies, which increases the odds of winning in fights with other non-playing characters and armies. The game allows players either to manually play out the combat or let the computer determine the outcome quickly. There are skill trees, and, as players level up their armies, they can have key members specialize in different battle skills. Playing through the narrative and quests offers 50 hours of gameplay.

Is it any good?

Legends of Eisenwald is sneaks up on you. At first, the character movement seems relatively basic, but the background music is wonderfully linked to the time frame, and the graphics (with a day-and-night cycle) are beautiful. Before too long, it's easy to become invested in the characters and the world, following the intrigue of the story. Some of the quests do seem very linear, requiring players to jump through hoops in a particular way to advance, which feels cumbersome. There's also far too much running back and forth from one location to another. But the pluses of Eisenwald far outshine the negatives. Players can invest in the characters, equipping and training them for specific purposes. Deciding to make certain characters ranged, melee, or healing lets players feel as though they're actively managing real people instead of faceless warriors, which brings them farther into the story. It also ensures that playthroughs can be radically different, because you can always select different character traits.

The turn-based combat system works fine, but players also are given the option of moving more quickly through the combat by letting the computer decide the outcome, which is nice if you want a break. Additionally, the inclusion of a game editor lets players make their own quests and maps for their world, expanding gameplay. Plus, though the game touches on violence and seedy elements that were part of a particular time, it's refreshing that the game chooses to not show these in favor of static images with text boxes. This adds layers and depth to the story itself. But perhaps the nicest element of Legends of Eisenwald is that it's fun. The look of the game will grab players, but the gameplay will keep them returning. A few obstacles hold the game back a bit, but overall, this is a good game that can serve as an introduction to the role-playing-strategy genre or give veteran players hours of enjoyment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about medieval times. What were some of the hardships faced then? What motivated people to hold or attack castles? What were the responsibilities faced by owners of keeps to the people who lived in the shadows of the castles?

  • Talk about the importance of tactical combat. Why do you need to use different units in battle? Can you apply tactical strategy from this game in the real world?

Game details

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