Lornsword Winter Chronicle Review
Since restarting my role as a reviewer on AbsoluteXbox, I’ve remembered how much indie developers are willing to try new things. It’s difficult for AAA games to stray too far from the path of the norm, due to the requirement to make big sales due to the big budget nature of their developments. If you’re looking for something that is willing to risk new things, delving into the indies is probably the best way to go.
Lornsword Winter Chronicle is one such game that tries to change up an already successful formula. It is billed as a story driven action strategy game. Generally speaking it looks akin to strategy games such as Command and Conquer, but here instead of taking control from the back seat of the action, you play Corun Lan Ka and he’s a leader that stays on the battlefield, in the thick of the action.
Corun knows war and is a fighting man. However, he now has a family and his focus has shifted to his life with them. But he is drawn into what he hopes is going to be a short war, between his own people. It’s a war he’s uncomfortable with but has always followed orders. There is a decent storyline here, but it is hampered by both how it’s told, and some mundane gameplay to boot.
The game plays out in a traditional top down look that you’d expect from this genre of game. While controlling Corun, you have full management responsibility of the battlefield. You need to manage levels of gold and food that are required to build and maintain different buildings. Capturing gold mines and farms help maintain these levels with constant flows of each. Defending these captures is integral to victory. In fact, the core objective of the game is to keep your base safe, all other objectives work out from there to gain victory in each battle.
While Corun can fight, there is actually a limited amount he can do with his minimal move set, and restricted health. What your role is, is to lead troops into each battle. And this is where the repetitive loop kicks in. You’re able to get a set number of troops to follow you wherever you go, you then drop them off and let them battle, while you go back to the next bunch. It almost turns into a running simulator, going back and forth until the objective is complete. There is a reliance on the auto fight/defence of your troops, but the pace they set getting to certain areas of the map tend to be slow so you’ll probably take over to pick them up and get them to places quicker.
There is also an ability to summon elemental troops to fight for you. These take up the form of different elements and cost a form of energy to summon. They tend to last longer than the regular flesh and blood warriors, but once you’ve used them a few times, there is little they add to the excitement of the gameplay. There has been no attempt to use the battles to help tell the story either, which is an opportunity missed. Instead there’s a real feeling of just waiting (an ever-increasing amount of time) for the battle cycle to complete, rather than being able to hit narrative beats to keep in engaging.
In between each battle you’re greeted with what usually ends up being an overly lengthy cutscene which drives the story forward. These take the form of still images overlaid with voiceovers. There is nothing intricately wrong with this form of storytelling, however the same feeling of over lengthy time waiting for the next part to happen is present, and that is a real detriment to what could have been an engaging tale.
Lornsword is a game that appears to have a lot of potential but trips itself up with a dull gameplay loop coupled with a story told in a way that mage it difficult to maintain full attention. An opportunity missed.
Thank you to Plan of Attack for the review code.