Camelot: The Game is an awkward blend of tactical RPG and stripped-down strategy gameplay

There’s the whiff of a misspent premise around Camelot: The Game. The game is a tie-in to the Camelot series that Starz aired earlier this year and, rather curiously, formally canceled just a few weeks ago. The game’s visuals are based directly on the look of the show, complete with photographs of the actors appearing both as decoration and in the tutorial (where the show’s Merlin sends you through the steps of founding a village). Typically brand tie-in games on Facebook are very formulaic ones that leave lots of room for the license to shine, but Camelot: The Game has loftier goals.

The question is if those goals are lofty enough. Camelot: The Game is an attempt to blend role-playing combat with the resource-gathering elements of a strategy game. Not just any strategy game, either: the resources you gather in Camelot: The Game are roughly the same as those you gather in Kingdoms of Camelot, one of the first major Facebook strategy games. It becomes apparent after playing Camelot: The Game for even a short while that at heart, the game is attempting to streamline the basic gameplay principles of an online strategy game while making the combat more complex, visceral, and satisfying.

 The Game

The combat does succeed. Where combat in the average strategy game consists of reading reports about what your incalculably high numbers of troops did while they were gone, combat in Camelot: The Game is about positioning a much smaller number of troops in a turn-based environment. You can give your troops orders to attack during your turn, provided you’ve moved them adjacent to another enemy. You begin with basic swordsmen and over time can unlock more sophisticated units like archers, horsemen, and pikemen.

It’s the resource-gathering portion of Camelot: The Game that feels a bit ill-advised. You basically play a strategy game so simple that it feels a bit automatic. You build mines to generate ore, farms to generate gold, and sawmills to generate wood. You spend your accumulated resources on expanding your territory with new holdings, recruiting new troops, and upgrading holds you already have. Each holding generates so much of a resource per hour, which you can boost by assigning workers from a finite pool to the holding. This lets you basically manipulate a bonus, generating more of resources you may have particular need for at the moment.

 The Game

Where Kingdoms of Camelot and games like it are sophisticated affairs that you can play for years, Camelot: The Game‘s depths can be plumbed in the first couple of hours of play. While the assets from the Starz show are certainly attractive, they also seem to result in long load times and the occasional bout of lag. The more distinct elements of Camelot: The Game are the most entertaining and it’s a real shame that the rest of the game didn’t opt to pursue them more aggressively. If this game intrigues anyone into picking up the upcoming Camelot DVD set, though, then it has arguably done its job.