Eador: Masters of the Broken World is a turn-based fantasy strategy game. Merging gameplay like that of Civilisation, Heroes of Might and Magic (HoMM) and Master of Magic results in a beautiful design, but did Indie developers Snowbird Game Studios pull off this eagerly awaited sequel?
As an immortal demigod your goal is reunite the the scattered shards as one. The basic idea is that once upon a time Eador existed as a united, great land until it was shattered, leaving broken worlds to float across the eternal astral plane. As time went on the history was long-forgotten and each shard became a mini-world in itself. Each shard features it’s own heroes, challenges and competition, and the map is randomly generated.
You are not alone, as other immortals vye over other shards where battles are fought on a world surface similar to a Civilization-style map. Holding a centre city you can hire heroes, construct your town and conquer the land around. At times it was more rewarding to venture into dens in search of treasures rather than establishing a new city. The random events keep things interesting, offering very RPG-esque interactions at random intervals such as a raiding barbarian, an uprising of undead, a riddle for resources and so on.
The Karma system shapes not only your interactions with the entire game but also offers up 12 different endings. The bulk of my playtime was spent micro-managing my province with the emphasis on keeping peace. Ensuring my citizens were happy, fed and enjoying life was a strong part of the management. The Karma system seemed to link directly into my populace and with choices which decided a festival or a raid occasionally I found myself opting to please my citizens over my coffers.
The other Immortals have their own cities and influence will need to be fought back and conquered, claiming the shard as your own, which can lead to unlocking the next “skill” or “tech”. It is important to note that shards unlock abilities and technology but there is no tree or points system. You either have it or you do not.
As you conquer shards you are able to fund your next campaign by sending resources with the attack. The diplomacy seemed shallow but an integral part with talking, dealing and keeping both other Immortals and your populace happy.
The battles take place on a tactical map which would directly link into where you fought on the campaign with terrain, promotions, magic and unit types creating a combat which required some careful planning. Pulling no punches, the game first punished me for my newbie mistakes but once into the swing of things I started to figure out the combat. It did not just hinge on charging my biggest baddest creature in, but rather on a careful consideration of bonuses, effects, promotions, morale (linked to Karma) and abilities that units and tiles bestowed. In addition I soon found myself building tactics around battering stamina to limit my opponent’s ability to attack.
The game demonstrated it’s depth when, after my first 10 hours, I kept finding new units and troops to recruit and face, each with their own set of special abilities and stats that altered my strategy. The battles and unit composition complemented one another, and ensuring I had the correct units to deal with threats was half the battle. After a while I soon started to feel the game’s disguised rock-paper-scissors nature and the illusion of tactics started to form neatly. The animations were basic, and sometimes tedious in speed, but I adjusted it by turning up the games speed which still gave a rather bland feeling to the combat.
The graphics felt cluttered and the UI was at times counter-intuitive, forcing me to take unnecessary steps to issue orders. Occasionally, bugs would render menus unclickable, or remain stuck when clicking away. The controls never conformed and the released game felt like an early access beta.
I have little experience with the multiplayer due to the limitations of the buggy release, yet what I did experience felt like a nerfed version of the game. Removing all sense of depth, it was reduced to the battles as players clashed against each other with no consequence.
The game is a remake of Eador: Genesis. Released in 2009, Genesis offered a wonderful game in 2D which truly brings together the best bits of Civ, HoMM, MoM and so on. Genesis was met with its fair share of criticism such as a predictable AI, rigid worlds, repetitive gameplay, bland graphics and limited localisation (only Russian) but was also regarded as at the top of its game.
To those veterans of Genesis, Eador: Masters of the Broken World is nothing more than a remake with 3D graphics. The story, events, dialogue, units and spells are all identical. The AI, while better, still seems one-dimensional, and the graphics are nothing special but do the job. The interface has changed sometimes for better, more often than not for the worse, but the game is essentially the same. If you are new to the series some hardcore fans may suggest Genesis, and I’d be hard-pressed to suggest Eador: Masters of the Broken World, but as it is a new release and has the community and support to follow I’d encourage Broken World.
The game’s title is almost too good to pass on and Eador: Masters of the Broken World gets one thing right: the “Broken” part. At the time of playing my game crashed a good few times and I encountered far too many bugs for a new release. I decided to hold back and wait for a patch and I feel I was rewarded for my faith. A patch was released just the other day, clearing up a good chunk of these game-breaking errors and made it certainly easier to play, yet it still occasionally crashes. The patching system and infrastructure around the game was met with constant errors, and I couldn’t help but feel it was released a little too early. I do not think this is game I would pick up at full price but it is definitely a game I’d pick up on sale.
However, the fundamental gameplay is solid and holds a potential to be one of the greatest fantasy strategy games around. The future seems bright for Eador, and for a game in this genre it is certainly one of the best.