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Lornsword: Winter Chronicles

Posted by GG Goblin On June - 5 - 2019

What? A real-time strategy game designed for a controller? It must be witchcraft!

When it comes to real-time strategy, fans know that mouse and keyboard are the preferred control method. This does of course mean that real-time strategy on console is a tricky thing and more often than not unsuccessful. As a fan of real-time strategy, when a new game comes to Steam Early Access, I pay attention. When that game is being developed by a team including former Creative Assembly members, I pay even more attention. But when I am told that the game on PC is best played with a controller, I scream out in defiance. Never!

Okay, well actually it makes sense. While Tower Five’s Lornsword: Winter Chronicle can indeed be played with traditional keyboard and mouse, it is designed to be played with a controller, and it really works. Part of the reason is because further down the line, some time after the early access phase I am sure, Lornsword will be coming to consoles. But the main reason is that this is an action real-time strategy in which the player is actually controlling a character on screen rather than just issuing orders to the troops.


Oh yes, things are getting interesting now. RTS games are not usually known for their story-telling skills, but Lornsword looks to be putting in more effort in this respect. Players take the role of a young knight in the employ of the Lorn Empire and has a story that is told through chapters, with each chapter presenting the player with a choice of which battle to participate in, and not requiring each and every battle to be fought.

It is the gameplay that sets Lornsword apart from most games, as the player is in direct control of this young knight. As such, they can move the knight around the battlefield, attack enemy troops or buildings, and generally see what is going on. There are more classic RTS systems in play here, with the player having to manage various resources in the form of food and gold, while constructing new buildings to keep the resources coming in, such as mines, along with other buildings required to evolve the players forces.

The difference is that the player will have to move the knight to where they want these buildings constructed, as it is the knight that is in charge, not some faceless on-screen cursor. This raises some really interesting problems for the player, as it can take some time to move to where the knight is needed, and so players will have to plan carefully things like building placement in order to optimise defence.

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The same can be said of the army the knight will control. With a little bit of MOBA and a touch of Pikmin or Overlord, the developers have come up with a clever idea for the limitations of the controller. In Lornsword, buildings generate a variety of different standard troop types. When created, the player is able to have them all gather in a set place or, once a path is set, the troops will make their way to the nearest enemy base and start attacking. However, if the knight is nearby, the player can have the troops follow the knight to wherever they are needed. On arrival, the player will have to stop the troops following the knight so that they can attack or defend. This does mean that the player has to rely on the AI of the troops more than in most RTS games, but it is a great system that, most importantly, works very well with a controller.

Adding a further wrinkle to the formula, altars found at the base can allow the player to summon different elemental troops at the cost of some of the knights stamina. These troops are only temporary, but are powerful enough to be useful and so the player should be prepared to pay the stamina cost.

Visually, the game is reminiscent of those older RTS titles, such as Age of Empires, which is no bad thing. The cut scenes are very nicely done, and for the purposes of seeing what is happening on the battlefield, the slightly old-school visual style is perfectly suited.

As if offering an RTS built for a controller was not unusual enough, Lornsword also offers local, split-screen co-op, allowing a friend to drop in and join the fray, before dropping back out again and leaving the player to continue their journey alone. Playing with someone else obviously gives the players a chance to cover two parts of the battlefield at once, but shared resources suggest a thoughtful co-op companion would be needed. Still, it really is a great addition.

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Lornsword: Winter Chronicle is an early access title at the moment, and as such is unfinished. That being said, it really is shaping up to be something interesting. The real proof of the pudding will be if the game works on consoles, and with preferred controller support and slit-screen co-op already being a feature, things are looking good. Those looking to get in early for some action RTS fun should keep an eye on Lornsword: Winter Chronicle.

Lornsword: Winter Chronicle is available now on Steam Early Access, priced at £18.99.


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