I picked up this game a year or so ago, but never really gave it a serious try. I played the tutorial and felt I didn’t have time to really focus on the game at the time and gave up. This game suffers from the same issues as some other Paradox games: it can be overwhelming for new players.
But now, A year later, after playing EU4 I decided to give this a serious look. Now, 50 or so hours later, I really love this game. Now I’m not sure what made this game seem so overwhelming, even though there are some concepts I still not grasp 100%. I guess the main reason is that you approach things differently. Instead of playing a nation, like in other similar games, you play a dynasty. or rather a member of a dynasty. You try to spread your dynasty while at the same time trying to keep enough land to ensure that your heir will be powerful enough to survive against other claiments. This can be tricky at times, since other dynasties, as well as other members of your own dynasty will try to take what they consdier to be theirs. I use the term “land” ligltly here, cause the game is more about titles. You can hold a Kindom without actually holding any land in it (even though you run a huge risk of getting into trouble with revolting powerful vasals).
Each characters has traits that you have to take into account when arranging merriages and deviding land. Traits can be gained and lost throughout a characters lifetime. This brings an interesting RPG element into the game.
The game takes place in medieval europe for the most part, so you don’t have access to the whole world like you do in EU4, however, the most recent expansion adds india to the map. In the original game, you can start in 1066 and play all the christian feodal leaders. Expansions have added the option to play muslim and pagan leaders as well as the option to start in the 9th century. No matter what start you pick, the game will end in 1453, since this is considered to be the end of the medieval era (The fall of constantinople).
Something that may put people off, is that the game has a lot of DLCs. I’ve picked up most of them by now, but if you are looking to pick this game up, I would start wit hthe original game, and if you like it, pick up the DLCs on sale.
THe game uses the same engine as EU4 I think, so if you’ve seen that, you know what to expect. There are a limited number of character faces in the game, but several small DLCs will add more distinct faces for different cultures.
The sound effects are nothing special, but the music is good for the most part. There are also a lot of music DLCs to add flavour to different cultures.
As mentioned, the game can be very overwhelming berfore you get used to it. Some things can be pretty difficult to find, unless you know where it is (financial overview comes to mind). It will take you a few hours of clicking around to learn where everything can be found. Some areas could probably have been made more intuitive, but at the same time, once you get used to it, it works quite well.
You start out as a member of a dynasty with one or more “landed titles” and your goal is to make you and your dynasty gain more power, and survive the test of time. A lot of decisions you make will be long term, for example, you marry one of your children, so his or her children will inherit a title. Events will occur throughout a characters lifetime, changing their traits, opinions of other characters and so on, usually involving active decision making.
You’ll also get involved on plots to clain or revoke toties as well as getting rid of certain people. Managing your vasals is another important area that sometimes requires some creativity. You want to keep people happy without making them to powerful. To sum it up, the game is basically a dynasty simulator.
If you can get through the steep learning process, this game is awasome. I would higly recomment this game to anyone who likes strategy games. It also won’t hurt if you are a fan of intrigues such as those found in series like The sage of ice and fire :). Presonally, I really like this game right now, and there isn’t many similar games out there. For beginners I would recommend picking up just the original game, playing through one game and then picking up all the expansions and DLCs.