Disciples II: Gallean’s Return

So, right now I’m playing Payday 2 on the Xbox with the guys, so this is a piece I wrote a few days ago (scheduling updates, who knew that was a thing?). I think the Steam sale is still on, so if you feel a sense of nostalgia at reading this little semi-review thing, I’d recommend buying the game. If you never played it before now, there isn’t much point getting it, especially with all the amazing games that look to be coming out soon.

Ah, Steam, my wallet’s arch nemesis, we met again…

Only this time, it wasn’t so bad. For £1.29, I picked up Disciples II: Gallean’s Return, a turn-based strategy game which combines the first two expansions and also the original Disciples II: Dark Prophecy, which I haven’t played for almost ten years, hell, I would’ve been in High School last time I played it. This game was one of those I played heavily when I went through that period of PC Gaming, along with Age of Wonders II and Rome: Total War.

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Though the graphics haven’t held up well, they haven’t yet faded too far, though I remember being impressed with them when I used to play it, back when PC games came on disks, god damn it! You play as one of four factions, The Undead Horde (my own, personal favourite), The Alliance (Humans), The Mountain Clans (Dwarves and Giants) and The Legions of the Damned (Demons). The four, incredibly stereotypically named, factions are pretty similar, making the game fairly even.  It becomes less about which faction you choose, and more about which characters you use in your party.

There are a few basic types of soldier, in a mixture of ranged, melee and support. There is the basic, bog-standard warrior, a frontline melee combatant with a fair amount of health whom can only attack one opponent at a time. There is the magician, whom attacks every character on the opponent’s team, but with less damage than the warrior can inflict. There is the support who, for the Undead Hordes, takes the form of a ghost, whom paralyses one enemy at a time, but for other factions she can replaced with a Healer.

The combat is simple and, no doubt, immediately familiar to anyone who has ever played a turn-based game, like the earlier Final Fantasy’s, before. You choose the position of your characters, and that is the most important aspect of the gameplay. Depending on which characters you choose to be in your party of six slots (some characters, Leviathans and Giants etc, take up more than one slot), depends on what tactics you will use. It would be advantageous if there was some way of controlling in which order you were able to control the characters, but you have to make do with a randomised order.

It has the typical two tier gameplay, as in you have the main overland map, mostly covered by the Fog of War, one of every strategy gamer’s worst nightmares, and the battle tier. Once you have chosen their position, which you can only do in the overland map, they are locked in for the battle, unable to swap around if, say, a Warrior on the frontline is taking a beating. The game is relatively hard to play, at first, at least until you have the characters memorised, as to which character fulfils which role on your team.

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The big part of your team though, without which you couldn’t unleash your characters from the fortress in which you spawn them, is your Hero. There are three types of Hero per Faction, the Warrior, the Rogue and the Sorcerer. These are basically stronger versions of the normal characters, but you can level them up in a wider variety of ways, give them skills and the ability to equip better equipment, until they reach a level where they can knock down Dragons with the back of their hand.

It is a pretty standard example of the genre, with little actual innovation over other examples, such as Age of Wonders, but I bought it more for the nostalgic factor than any genuine desire to replay the game. I suppose, like most of my Steam library, it is built up so that I’ll be able to look back in other ten years or so, and reminisce about the games I’ve been playing for my entire life. Plus, my Laptop can actually run it fairly smoothly without having a panic attack which, you know, is always nice. It’s just going to end up being the game I play when waiting in the university library for a lecture, but the nostalgia kick was a pretty important part of my enjoyment.

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