Explore the world of Westmore in Chronicles of Merlin, but don’t expect to be wowed
Fantasy is one of the richest areas of exploration in video games. In Chronicles of Merlin, a freemium release from Koram Games, they tackle all the familiar trappings: swords, horses, armor, arrows, castles, banners, etc. You’ll attack bandits, armies and gain heroes in a game that is high on tasks that need to be managed, but light on tools to help you track those tasks or any sort of depth that will keep you coming back.
Chronicles of Merlin starts out with a lengthy tutorial that shows you all of the different things that you’ll need to concern yourself with. First and foremost is the “campaign”, where you’ll be guided through a string of battles. The rest of the game is preparing for the campaign. For example, you’ll need to upkeep your castle’s buildings. City Hall is something that you will constantly need to upgrade, because this is effectively your level cap on all other buildings (armory, treasury, training and residences) and your hero characters (essentially act as your entire army) can be. Once your City Hall has been upgraded, you can upgrade the other buildings in your castle to make your army more powerful and more able to complete battles in the current campaign.
The battles are fairly simplistic, especially early on. The real strategy of the game is making sure your heroes have been training regularly to level up, you have been purchasing the best gear available in the armory, and then following a fairly simplistic “formation” system. Essentially, prior to battling, you will want to form up your heroes in a specific way. Looking at the armor that they currently have and the type of soldiers they are (archers, pikemen, cavalry, for example) you’ll want to place them in a certain formation. You’ll want to have your archers in the rear, for example, while pikemen can go in front because they will be more heavily armored.
Past that, the battles simply play out in front of your face. Each strike is a dice roll happening in the background, and there is nothing you can do during the battle except for waiting for it to end. Having something for players to do during battles would have made things much more interesting. Instead, if you lose, it means you just have to grind a little bit more on lesser enemies, gain some battle points, train your heroes a bit more, and try again.
This is a freemium game, and the game’s currency is gold. Where this comes into play is the cooldown effects that happen almost everywhere—when you train heroes, fight battles, or upgrade armor, weapons and buildings. You can use gold to eliminate the cooldown immediately and continue to progress at an extremely fast pace if you want to pony up cash. If you’re a poor sap like myself, you’ll just wait for the cooldown to run its course, but the inclusion of a notification system when something cools down and is able to be upgraded again would have been an excellent inclusion in this game. In its current form, you’ll likely just forget about the game for a day and lose out on valuable leveling time.
Another small gripe about the game’s functionality is that it tries to save where you are in the game so you can quickly come back and keep playing, but never, ever works. Instead, you’ll click one of the in-game buttons and it’ll send you back to the menu because you were disconnected from the server. At that point, why even save the application in the memory? Just restart it and stop with the tease.
At the end of the day, there isn’t quite enough here that will keep even fantasy nerds like myself hooked for very long. It gives the illusion of depth through a good number of tasks to manage, without any actual strategy behind it. As it stands, it’s worth a casual glance to see what it has to offer (and the sheer amount of content on offer is impressive), but don’t expect to inhabit Westmore for more than a day or two before losing interest.