Manor Lords Early Access Review: Medieval City-Building Magic

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    Manor Lords is a complex city-building strategy game that has been years in the making. You can’t blame developer Slavic Magic for taking their time, as it’s a one-person team working on this project. It took me a while to get here, but I finally got a chance to play the early access version. All my fears that the game was overrated disappeared the moment I started building my first village.

    city ​​building

    Screenshot of pro game guides

    The first few minutes in Manor Lords were confusing, as I didn’t know what to build first. But then I realized: this is a lot like The Settlers. Therefore, I need to cut down some trees and find food. So, relying on my experience in city building, I developed what looked like a decent city. But then winter came and I was not prepared for the cold and lack of food. As soon as spring arrived, I realized that I had to use real-life logic to improve my city. (Even at this early stage, I observed that the user interface is very good, while the learning curve is low.)

    I improved step by step, mainly relying on trade, which allows you to import everything you need and export all leftover items. I soon learned how to break the game by selling large quantities of easy-to-obtain items such as berries and firewood. While the economic part is a bit broken, the trading system allowed me to develop my city faster and experience the game with less stress.

    That being said, I hope that trading, an important component of the game, is redesigned. Current trading mechanics allow me to ignore most structures. This is especially true in the case of agriculture, where importing flour to make bread is much easier than constructing several buildings, dealing with crops (and their rotation in the field), bad weather, snow, and more.

    Score: 4/5 stars

    Combat

    Screenshot of pro game guides

    The combat in Manor Lords is very satisfying as long as you don’t expect Total War or some complex strategies. Simply put, battles are an addition to the main activity – building cities. There are no separate maps for combat; Your units will face enemies on the same map where your city is. What’s more, your units are villagers who took up arms, so if someone dies, your economy will be affected by the lack of workers.

    Battles are fluid, while units move realistically. They will get tired if you force them to run, resulting in combat penalties. The combat looks good, but it’s clear that this segment of the game is still in development. Many units are not available (mainly cavalry) and I am still waiting for the opportunity to attack and defend castles.

    Score: 3/5 stars

    Related: Manor Lords: gameplay, Game Pass and more

    Atmosphere

    Screenshot of pro game guides

    I’m a big fan of city building games that focus on atmosphere. There’s always something happening on the streets, so I often take my time to check out what’s going on. Not only could I zoom in and see up close what my villagers are in Manor Lords, but I could also personally walk the streets with my avatar! While it’s a strictly cosmetic choice, it allows me to immerse myself in the atmosphere up close. Plus, you have changing seasons, each with its challenges (especially winter, when you have to think about fuel and food reserves).

    Combat and diplomacy significantly improve the atmosphere of the game. I exchanged jokes and insults with other lords and raiders, making the victories more personal and enjoyable. All in all, I enjoyed my life as a medieval nobleman, balancing peaceful development and war.

    Score: 5/5 stars

    Graphics and performance

    Image from MyFullGames

    Even at this early stage of development, Manor Lords looks great. The developer focused on the details: your villagers have different clothes, move naturally and look very alive. The structures are visually appealing, although more colors would be appreciated, especially as higher levels of development are reached. While it is only cosmetic, the day/night cycle is very well done and I suggest you try it.

    For an early access game, Manor Lords runs very well, with no stutters. I was typically seeing at least 86 frames per second with many units on the battlefield on my PC with 32GB RAM and GeForce RTX 3070, at 1920 x 1080 resolution and maximum graphics settings. The game even ran smoothly on my laptop with integrated graphics and 16 GM of RAM (but at the lowest settings).

    Score: 4/5 stars

    Verdict: a good starting point

    Manor Lords is off to a great start and I look forward to playing it for many years to come. I hope version 1.0 is just around the corner so I can have a complete medieval strategy experience. But even at this stage of development, the game offers a lot with its three scenarios: city building (discussed above), casual play with battles (confrontations with bandits and a final battle against another lord) and dynamics for experienced players (you have a year to prepare before raiders attack you, and there will always be other lords invading you.) I suggest you take it easy and start with a city-building sandbox scenario where you will learn the basics.

    Divulgation: The publisher provided a free copy of the game to PGG for review.

    Looking for more game reviews? Check out Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Review – The Gold Standard for a Modern Remake here at MyFullGames.


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