Fans of the second and third “Heroes” chapters don’t have it easy, since there hasn’t been a decent sequel in over two decades – the later portions of the series, although inventive in their own right, were simply, in my opinion, worse.
Songs of Conquest has a distinct vibe from the outset, thanks in large part to the excellent music. The menu allows you to play campaigns and situations on your own, as well as online fights. There’s even a mapmaker! When you first start the game, you immediately “feel at home” – the game virtually shouts that it was designed for folks who were swept away by the great enchantment of Heroes over 20 years ago. The basis of the game has remained unchanged. We begin with one castle, known as a keep in this region, and one confidant, the local hero. We gather raw resources, build cities, and enlist armies to rid the map of neutral animals, and subsequently of other players. The bouts itself take place on static boards in a turn-based system. There is, however, no scarcity of change. The army of the hero stands out. In most cases, we begin with three unit slots. To unlock the following ones, we must properly grow our hero by raising his command parameter. A quandary occurs here: we can only spend one point every level, yet instead of command, we always have two powerful skills accessible. The city expansion system has also undergone changes. Each of them has three various sizes of expansion fields: small, medium, and huge. We may construct various structures on each of them, with the larger ones naturally being the most valuable. We need to upgrade the castle in order to expand the amount of potential expansion spaces.
To put it simply, in each city, there are more structures than open fields for expansion. As a result, you must carefully plan your future investments so that you do not obstruct the way to a valuable unit or upgrade – and construct structures inside numerous castles or communities. The game allows you to choose one of four conflicting factions. Arleton is a human kingdom aided by mythological animals, with archers and knights at our disposal. Loth is a necromantic organization whose soldiers are supplemented by cultists and undead creatures. Baria is a firearms-focused faction, whereas Rana is a reptile tribe whose army includes lizardmen and dragons. Each side includes eight troops, the majority of which may be modified to achieve a new variation. Each group has its own set of strengths and limitations; Arleon’s forces specialize in defensive gaming, whilst Baria’s units excel at destroying adversaries from a safe distance.
In Songs of Conquest, magic is also mentioned. We don’t have traditional mana points here, but rather five essences. We produce them during combat, similar to card games, and use them to cast spells. Surprisingly, we are not confined to casting only one spell every turn; as long as we have essences, we can shoot fireballs at adversaries or speed up soldiers. As previously said, you may play alone or multiplayer – either online or on a single computer. There are also two lengthy campaigns accessible in single-player mode; their plots may not be thrilling, but they serve well as an introduction to the real action, as they progressively unlock future mechanics or troops. Aside from the aforementioned amazing soundtrack, the pixel art images are what draw attention. Certainly, not everyone will like it, but you can see the graphic designers’ amazing work here. The landscapes are detailed and mirror previous versions of the Heroes series, and the troops, despite the technology utilized, are well animated.
To be very honest, the game has faults. Unfortunately, the first is the visuals themselves. Although it is lovely, it might be difficult to read at times. It’s incredibly easy to overlook a minor prize or interactive object, especially when you zoom out a lot. The game’s benefit, however, is that it has modest system requirements and should operate without issue even on older hardware. However, the most serious issue is artificial intelligence, which is sadly ubiquitous in this genre. Enemies travel across the area with no order or structure, and in battle they can kill the most valuable units. Interestingly, the opponent frequently cheats – he has a large number of evolved heroes and armies of unimaginable size, and he may even walk through a particular region without removing the adversaries – though the latter may simply be an error.
To summarize, I suggest Songs of Conquest to all genre enthusiasts, particularly those who enjoyed the second and third parts of Heroes years ago. I include myself among these group, and after having spent numerous hours with the game, my interest has not diminished – on the contrary, I can’t wait to immerse myself once again in this amazing universe.