Conquest of Elysium 3 is an old school turn based fantasy strategy game. You start by choosing one of 17 different characters, e.g. Necromancer, Demonologist, Dwarf Queen, Troll King or maybe a High Priestess of Ba’al.
Someone described the game as a strategy roguelike and I think that is a quite good description. It plays fast and you can die quickly if you are unlucky. Worlds are randomly generated, so no two games are the same. It is also an unfair game, random events can wreak havoc upon the world and game changing monsters or locations can be encountered.
What We Think:
Let’s start off on a good note with Conquest of Elysium 3: I actually had to pick up the manual to understand this game. Featuring a sixty-page manual in PDF format that is filled with more than just the credits list and some shortcut keys, it explicitly outlines everything from how to play, what to do and even some good back story. I found I really wished to be holding it in physical form to get through it all, and so I could refer to it often.
This should tell you that the game features a great depth of game-play.
You start off with a castle and (typically) two commanders on a randomly-generated map. The commanders can be one of seventeen(!) classes that include Witches, Demonologists, Warlocks, the Dwarf Queen and a “Troll King” – which is the only class wherein you only get one commander to start with. These commanders lead other units around the map and no other unit can move unless it’s being lead or a commander itself. This sets up the game for a “stack of death” war.
Many people who have played the old Civilization games know what a stack of death is; it’s where you have a large amount of units in one tile. The way Civilization addressed this problem was to have one unit do more damage and only have one unit per tile. The stack of death actually works a bit against you in this game because you move slower, and so the more commanders you have, then the more you can spread out. This also decreases the possibility of losing them in one swipe. And you do not want to lose. This is very much meriting of the roguelike comparison as death can be swift, brutal and final. Of course the joy of a roguelike is always in seeing if you might take one extra chance, venture one extra tile, before something shows up to undo all the progress you made in one erroneous decision.
Commander units can join other groups as regular units allowing you to group together for a hit on a well-defended position like a town or castle. With each of these seventeen classes, each commander gets something unique about them. One can burn down forests and another can assassinate and a few can even cast magic. On top of this, there are also special items which I didn’t see much of but they can also change the tides of war fairly reliably.
So what are you fighting for? Resources, towns, land. It all comes down to territory. Certain places, like mines, towns and towers give you resources like iron, gold, sacrifices and several others that the commanders require to use their unique powers. Gold is spent to gain better units, and each village you own can produce peasants and other weak but useful units to fight with you. I am not one to stick my nose up at free units but the most of those I collected were used for padding from blows against the better units.
There are some very cool features to the game that should be mentioned, like permanent battle afflictions, stealth and invisibility combat tactics and shape changers that appear as different unit types to their enemies. And a lot more. A lot, lot more. This is not a pick-up-and-play kind of title with a lot of grinding and waiting around. If you are of the type that enjoys drilling down into new possibilities, charts, stats and variation, you are in for a good time. The possibilities felt endless.
The game has a great amount of depth, an engaging story backing it and a lot more content than I could ever cover including the ability to add mods to the game. The game also features hotseat and network support for multi-player as well as AI players for solo or duo local play and could easily become a favorite at a LAN party or even a Saturday night with a couple of friends. Furthermore, it doesn’t require a Quadcore with a 2GB graphic card to run – per the developers, you could probably run COE3 on a five-year-old desktop without breaking a sweat. In other words, it isn’t pretty to look at, sometimes to a fault, but it more than makes up for it in gameplay and variation.
I recommend it such that at its current price of ten dollars you can’t go wrong.
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