“RUN!” Amusingly, I was thinking of the late Richard Pryor (I think it was from Live On The Sunset Strip) as I played this game because running like your character’s life depends on it (it does) is a big part of Lornsword Winter Chronicle, ($24.99) developer Tower Five’s pretty solid real time strategy/action game hybrid. My review’s a little late thanks to some illness, getting stuck in an area late in the game (I was having trouble in one busy area) and waiting for a patch that fixed some visual issues, but I rather liked the game overall. It does start out slowly, as tutorials tackle the basics and get you through the early parts before setting you free to experience things in its solo or co-op modes.
Story-wise, it’s pretty well written and straightforward with dramatic elements and a touch of wry humor every so often. As Corun Lan Ka, Lornknight turned general (sort of), you’re tasked with leading quite a number of disposable troops into battle as the story recounts your efforts. The game allows for offline co-op play (which works quite well), offering the ability for a friend or anyone otherwise interested to jump in and assist at any time. Given how hectic some battles are, that help sure comes in handy when its needed. Maps are both small enough to get you to targets quickly, but large enough that you can’t run continuously because you’ll be out of stamina. Corun is a capable fighter only when the enemies have been thinned out, so keeping him alive is key here. Running away to your base with a few enemies giving chase is both funny and frightening at times.
The game uses stylized cut scenes and in-game dialogue sequences to tell its tale, but it’s also a bit non-linear in that you can choose to play maps in any order when the option to do so opens up. There are also some RTS staples (base construction, troop summoning, resource farming) and some timed missions that keep you on your toes chasing down or waiting for enemies to assault your base camp or get to resources you need. Yes, as with many (or any) games in the genre, repetition is a thing you’ll need to deal with. You can play in a few ways if you have the proper resources and defeat enemies quickly or fight it out in a war of attrition by managing your forces while whittling down the opposition, running to safe points for a heal up when needed.
For the most part, the battles start out easy to mildly taxing early on as new tactics and talents open up. There are spikes in difficulty on occasion, but the freedom to go where you like also makes sure you’ll revisit any maps that were giving you grief. That said, I’ll admit to wanting to zip through this review at first because the game demands your full attention right from the start and the world building takes a few missions before it starts getting a lot more interesting. Still, it’s less the game’s fault that the user here, as I was expecting to be pulled in more that I was at the start, tutorials be darned. Still, it does what it does well enough and often enough that it’s a recommend and surprisingly well done for a console game. As I noted above, it’s also on PC, but it’s cleat that the UI and controls were made for a console release (a good thing).
The visuals are nice, delivering both old school isometric charm and nice modern ground deformation effects. It’s a good-looking game overall, but in that reliable manner you get with veterans at the helm where it’s more technical than showy. There’s lots of text and some fully voice audio here and it’s well done here. A patch cleaned up a few things that were problematic at launch, so I won’t cover them here save to say it a modern thing that almost every game gets a post launch fix and I’m pleased with the results.
In the end, the mix of genres works here, although the game feels like it needs a nice DLC pack that brings some extra missions and if wanted by the community, some sort of online play. I don’t need the online, personally, but if enough are enjoying the game and clamoring for it and the developer sees fit to add it, that would be cool. Well. that and/or giving more players a chance to play co-op at once. Overall, this one’s quite good when all is said and done.
Score: B (80%)
Review code provided by the publisher