The days of the Age of Empires may be over, but we still occasionally receive a little treat from the RTS genre. Spellforce may be one of them. I was not familiar with the franchise until the release of its third installment, thus I had no idea what to expect and was eager to explore what it has to offer.
My first assumption was that this merger of RPG and RTS genres would be too ambitious, and as a result fall flat on its face. Yet, I was proven wrong. The game starts as a top-view RPG with a small party of heroes. The game acts in this RPG manner to the point where I was scratching my head and questioning the accuracy of the game’s description. Then I’ve stumbled upon the first village and the whole game suddenly transformed into a full blown RTS with some RPG elements. My heroes were accompanied by an army of trained peasants. In addition, I had the ability to expand the village, gather resources and give other commands that fit into the RTS genre. At the same time, the game retains its focus on the heroes, their storyline and quests.
Since Spellforce 3 features both a campaign mode – the RTS/RPG cocktail, a skirmish mode – basic RTS mode, and a multiplayer, I will be forced to generalize some concepts to give an overview of the game’s functions. As in any RTS, a majority of the gameplay involves combat, resource gathering and structure building. Along with that there are RPG elements involved such as hero customization, quests and a storyline. As one would expect, the latter is excluded from the skirmish mode. Even though the mechanics of the game aren’t too deep, they differ in many ways from what you would expect from both a RTS and RPG’s. I was surprised to discover that I’m having trouble with adjustments to the gameplay, due to its original approach. Still, even upon ascending the steep learning curve, the game manages to keep you entertained, as opposed to frustrated.
What Makes It Special?
To assess the game’s quality, I will provide a summary of some of the key features. First off, I must mention that even though the soundtrack and voice acting aren’t great, the visuals are quite impressive, with the exception of water, which looks horrible. The gameplay features some interesting mechanics, such as non-automatic transfer of resources, which remain at the location where were gathered and must be transferred to the storage manually – as seen in the indie survival game Banished. The combat is executed exceptionally well. The game’s interface is designed to help you control all your characters, utilize their active skills, and at the same time manage your little army.