Conquest of Elysium 3

Moby ID: 65784
Windows Specs
Buy on Windows
$9.99 new on Steam

Description

Conquest of Elysium 3 is the sequel to Conquest of Elysium II. It is a turn-based strategy game where players can choose from 18 possible factions that battle across randomly generated maps or player-created using the built-in editor. Your goal is to protect your citadels (from which you can recruit new units and hire commanders) and your commanders (the only units that can move and lead other units on the main map) while trying to kill all of your enemies' commanders or capture all of their own citadels. To that end you must take control of resource producing locations which can vary depending on your faction - sorcerers collect rare gems from mines, evil priests gather sacrifices from villagers and witches harvest their herbs in swamps, and all lust for gold from wealthy towns and ports. Artifacts, spells and unique locations provide additional ways to increase your power.

Each faction has unique abilities and units. The High Priestess will summon powerful demons with the blood of her victims, the Enchanter will forge devastating automatons while the Baron will gather huge armies of humans to fight at his side. Beside enemy players (human or computer controlled) all players will have to fight the hordes of wandering monsters and other non-playable forces (like cosmic horrors or the Four Horsemen) which may appear. Terrain, the passing of seasons and random events may be used against you or in your favor.

Compared to its prequel CoE 3 has updated the graphics and interface of the game, revamped the various races (some were changed while others were deleted and new ones created instead), added more units, spells and special locations.

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Credits (Windows version)

12 People (9 developers, 3 thanks)

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 78% (based on 3 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 2 ratings with 1 reviews)

Simple, yet addictive

The Good
This game has no campaign mode, it's story is told entirely in the manual or when you select the various races and time periods to begin your new game. There isn't even a "basic" or "main" world map; each new game is randomly generated based on the parameters you've set for it. It doesn't have any diplomacy. It is the purified essence of turn-based strategy - trying to win within the limitations you've set for yourself. Turns out, that's pretty good!

Each faction in the game is fighting to eliminate all others - no allied victories or cultural victories - just you against the world. And I do mean world, because the game has neutral creatures and creature-generating locations that spew out new enemies almost each turn, some of which strong enough to take your starting castle and eliminate you from the game by themselves. While you're figuring out how not to lose on the first few turns you also have to search for resources to fuel your growing might. The two basic resources that are used by all factions are gold and iron, and they are produced from various controllable locations which are also guarded by monsters of all kinds. Your goal is both simple and, as it turns out, extremely difficult - to gain control of resources, not losing that control to wandering monsters or enemy parties and protecting your forts and commanders from surprise attacks.

However, that is not the whole story. Each faction also has its own special ability. For most its some kind of magical power, connected to obtaining special resources: for witches and trolls it's fungus that grows in forests and swamps, for warlocks and dwarfs it's the rare gems found in mines, for demonologists and high priestesses it's the human sacrifices collected from settlements, etc. You magical rites (and any other special action) can only be performed by commanders talented in the skill. They are also the ones leading your armies (Heroes of Might and Magic style) and conquering new locations.

For almost all factions, the special resource is their main source of power. From summoning tiny familiars to calling forth elder gods from the realm of nightmares, your sorcery is both powerful and varied, and it works well to set factions apart: Nature-oriented factions will keep to the forests, but won't have time to gain basic resources and have the hardest time controlling their territory. Gem-based factions will have to fight tough battles to gain even basic holdings, but once they do take them they'll become very difficult to dislodge. Town-centered factions (the ones that collect sacrifices or other offerings from people) will strike a balance between those two approaches - they'll explore, but not too much, they'll conquer locations, but will avoid the best defended ones. This sets the stage for some wonderfully asymmetric combat - between druidism and necromancy, between small armies led by a few spellcasters and massive legions of mortal soldiers.

The battles in this game are all automatic and mostly random. Units are sorted into ranks by their preferred positions (melee up front, units with limited range in the middle, and spellcasters and most commanders at the back). Units with several attacks or spells will randomly pick which to use each time and will continue to duke it out until one side loses the battle. That may not sound like a great deal of fun, but when you have over 300 different units, all with their own unique stats, special abilities (among which is immortality. Yes, that's right - you might end up using or going up against immortal beings. How awesome is that?!), special attacks (like charming enemy units to your side, or spawning more units for you), a huge array of spells (divided by magic school, meaning that no creature can ever learn all forms of magic) and equipable items with even more abilities, when you have all that you get some pretty wild battles.

Lastly, a word about the map. You can't be everywhere at once (usually, some factions have a way to fix that as well). A very limited number of movement points and terrain that requires more than one movement point to cross means that factions will try to stay on their preferred terrain (like mountains for dwarfs or swamps for witches) or grassland instead of venturing out into harsher lands. It may look easy to cross a forest, deprive hoburgs (hobbits of this world) of their herbs and attack where they least expect it, but if winter comes while you're making your way through the trees you might get stuck for quite a long while. All terrain (including the normally impassable water) has something for someone, and all terrain has its own unique neutral units and map locations. The map locations are far more than just places to get resources. Some of them are sites of ancient battles - useless for all except the necromancers and the wandering monsters. Some places will allow you to learn powerful new spells. Some are the focal point of arcane rituals. Some house ancient artifacts and some will allow you to control the length of summer and winter. It's a cornucopia of wonders - enough to add extra depth to any play-through. When you combine the richness and versatility of the map, with the number of well balanced factions and the randomness of many actions and encounters (let's just say that not every sacrifice is guaranteed to succeed, and even when they do you never know what you might get) - you get a game with huge replayability. And that's not counting the random special events that occur all the time.

The Bad
However, that replayability can have its drawbacks. The factions may be well balanced on average, but certain map settings will always favor some factions over others. For example: Small maps will not favor slow-to-start factions like the cultist, but will be a godsend to the trolls since they start with an almost undefeatable commander. An early time period is excellent for any nature-centric factions, but horrible to any settlement-centric factions, and so on. Some combination of settings and factions is simply unplayable.

That's not the worst thing about this game, though. What really is maddening is the randomness of the experience. I can't count the number of time I've lost the game just because a pack of deers (bloody deers!) wandered to and captured my citadel. Or the number of times I've lost my main (or sometimes last) commander while traveling to an empty square and stumbling on some invisible monstrosity. Or losing the game by failing a summoning which was almost guarantied to succeed. Or because my castle was placed too close to an enemy castle and the enemy discovered me before I could discover them. Or had a spell of Death memorized, yet my High Priest randomly chose instead to utilize the less awe inspiring spell of Minor Fear or something equally as useless when faced with a whole legion of knights. Or when I assaulted a castle walls with a large army, but a catapults boulder just happened to randomly fall on my commander, making the entire army nonoperational. Or just the constant annoyance of trying to keep your own dwelling protected from swarms of wandering critters (those bloody deers again!) just because your faction is not allowed to capture the location that spawns them.

Basically, if there is anything that can go wrong for you in this game, it definitely will. Some people may like it, while others may rather smash the screen with their own face until both are a collection of blood and shards. To each their own.

I also find the lack of any campaign or campaign map a bit puzzling. I understand that this game is going for the replay value, but surely a half-decent campaign wouldn't make it any worse. Besides, being too invested in replayability can be problematic in itself. Take the factions for example, some of them are either too similar to others, too bland (like the senatorial faction) or so contrived that they're practically unplayable unless you create the perfect conditions for them. There is a reason why the priest kings aren't very popular - when your power is to spawn weakling slaves you tend to lose to those that can awaken the Goat Devil of the Burning Sun or literally call forth the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It doesn't stop there either. Remember those 300+ units I've talked about? In most games you'll see just 50 at best. Why? Because the most common units, like the ones that guard mines and villages, or the ones that each faction can recruit from their forts or the common wandering deer (aargh!), are available on every map. The rest are unique units which can be summoned, invoked or constructed by specific factions in very specific circumstances. The seven Devil Lords won't be summoned in each game. In fact, they might never be summoned as their requirements are so very specific. You might never see Hunger itself ride to battle, unless you intentionally prolong the game just to get to see that unit.

The Bottom Line
All in all, this a fun game. It's functional, it's innovative and it has high replayability. The drawbacks did get on my nerves often enough to not consider this game a classic, and the lack of any campaign or true story is a big disappointment to me, but I still get the urge to play it from time to time.

Not for everyone, but if you're into turn-based strategy, especially if you find the fantasy setting appealing, you should give this game a try.

Windows · by Alex Z (1856) · 2014

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Game added by Alex Z.

Game added May 26, 2014. Last modified December 19, 2023.