Going Medieval is a delightful colony building sim founded in the Medieval age with heavy Arthurian influence. In this builder, the Black Death has absolutely devastated Europe, leaving most of what’s left of her people to venture out into the wilderness and begin anew. Your group of survivors will attempt to claim a piece of land for their own, and hold it, against the wrath of barbarians, religious fanatics, natural events, and even the wrath of the gods themselves. This is our review of Going Medieval.
There’s a plethora of options available to customize your gaming experience. Truthfully, you can make Going Medieval as challenging, or as easy as you’d like it to be. If you’re more interested in just city building and constructing elaborate designs-you can do that. If you want to start in the dead of winter, with one settler, and face a countless onslaught of raiders and barbarians-you can do that too. One of my favorite features, however, has to be the heraldry generator. At the beginning of each campaign, you get to customize your settlement’s flag and emblem, which appears on all of their flags and decor. This is probably one of the best generators I’ve seen from any game, with tons of color and emblem options, right down to the ability to resize and place emblems exactly where you’d like them to be. As a Louisiana gal, I was immediately inspired by the fleur-de-lis to create my own little settlement of Orleans, complete with the traditional, purple, green, and gold colors.
You can even create a custom game in which you change just about everything in the game, my favorite of which being how many settlers you start with. By default, you start with three settlers, each with their own stats and lore. Each character has their own lore and story that is randomly generated, and you really should take the time to read it. There are references to Arthurian lore and battles between the pagans and zealots, and even some funny quips that really help you connect to your villagers. While you can rename each of your villagers, I never felt the need to, because I appreciated the background and lore that was tied to each name. Each one felt special to me, and that made it even harder later on when I’d inevitably lose one to a raid.
Kind of similar to how you roll up a character in D&D, these settlers all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some will be better at healing wounds with Medicine, and some will be better at Carpentry and construction. Some will just be straight-up warriors or archers and dedicate themselves to the front-line whenever raiders attack your little village. Another interesting element of RNG that Going Medieval has added for stats is experience gain. Certain settlers may have lower stats, but may be particularly skilled in the amount of experience they gain in that stat. Those stats are designated by stars by the stat. So even if you have a settler with a low stat, it could very quickly turn into being one of their strongest with a little elbow grease and determination.
One stat in particular that drew my interest was Communication. Supposedly, you should be able to negotiate with NPCs by using that stat, but I was never able to find a way to utilize it. Every random event involving NPCs immediately led to either surrender or fight, without much wiggle room for diplomacy. I was really excited to test it out, too, because I have an incredibly charismatic Courtesan settler, with an extremely high Communication, and awesome background. Until they can find a way to communicate, she’ll probably stay in her high tower, chronicling new methods of research.
Unfortunately, each of the characters’ appearances is randomized. I don’t mind it too much, because it adds a little diversity to my pool of settlers, but it would have been nice to have a little control over their appearance, or maybe to even put that in as an option for a custom game.
So we have our characters settled, now what? Pick a type of terrain to settle in, and plop down. Your settlers have a large tile to explore, populated with a variety of trees, ore, and animals, and you’ll need to start learning how to best use all of those resources. Your settlers can advance through various stages of technology and upgrades by building a research table and writing down chronicles of their discoveries. This is extremely important because this is how you will unlock stronger building materials and upgrades to your defenses, as well as quality of life improvements. Researching can however quickly become a little overwhelming if you don’t construct a large enough building. Each chronicle a villager creates is dropped on the floor and sits there until you decide to move it around to another zone. This brings us to resource management in Going Medieval. Shield your eyes, this is my messy village after a fierce battle.
Resources are delegated to zones, grid areas that you can designate for your settlers to move items to automatically. It takes a little getting used to, but you can actually assign some of the settlers jobs to automatically move around the village to organize different zone piles and keep things nice and tidy. In addition to this, items deteriorate over time if you don’t have a roof constructed over them (zone or not), so you’ll be building a lot of storage houses in the beginning, just to keep your resources from dwindling away as quickly. This becomes a little more confusing when you want to do things like burying your dead, or the bodies of your enemies. It’s not really enough to just click a body and tell a villager to bury it. You need to create a zone, specify that human carcasses need to be placed there, and interact with the bodies after you’ve constructed a gravesite.
There are four distinct seasons that your new settlement has to face, each with its own appropriate challenges: cold snaps, heat waves, and occasionally a particularly nasty spring thunderstorm sent by Thor himself. In addition to this, your settlers will start to suffer from hypothermia and heatstroke. In order to prevent this, you need to outfit them with the proper clothes for the season, and can learn to make them from-you guessed it, research.
Volatile weather can cause issues for your food storage, as your food will start to deteriorate much quicker if you don’t place it underground in the summer. How do we do this? We utilize layers! With Going Medieval’s 3D tools, you can dig through a voxel landscape in order to extend your kingdom further underground. You can make underground mead halls, winding tunnels, huge wine cellars-you’re only limited by your imagination.
Going Medieval is an ever-evolving game with a ton of new features being expanded upon every day since it’s still in Early Access. There’s a lot of love packed into its world, with layers and layers of mechanics to sink your teeth into. It’s one of the most in-depth survival simulation RPGs I’ve played in a while and is sure to have a little something for everyone. While its world is vast, it can feel a little empty at times. Even though it is a large tile, your settlers are stuck to that tile, unable to journey out into the rest of the world to expand upon their relations or look for other resources. There’s a world map that you can view to see how your relations hold up against the NPCs that occupy neighboring tiles, but it just serves as a constant reminder that you’ll never be able to capitalize on that relationship.
You’re stuck where you are, living out your days expanding further and further underground and to the edges of the square, until there’s nothing left. Then what? Once most of the resources are depleted, and all you can do is re-plant trees, are you stuck in the endless cycle of destroying what is left of your tile, digging down for more building materials? I like to maintain the integrity of my settlements and their landscapes in building games. Even in Valheim, I like to leave some trees around because they’re beautiful and really add to the village’s atmosphere. There really isn’t any undo button either, so once you destroy a square of dirt or stone-it’s just gone. Then you’re left with a terribly ugly hole in the ground that you can only fix by putting a plank of wood or stone over.
A few other gripes I had were with the AI. At times, it seemed like the priority system was out to get me. Even when removing every other job from a villager’s chore list, they would just absolutely refuse to complete a task. I did try to force them to do it by clicking on them, but it was about a 75% chance of success. It added a layer of frustration and funnily enough, charm, to my settlement because I would get very agitated with this one villager in particular who was my BEST miner, but she just would. Not. Mine. That’s it Heryeth, you’re going on the front lines next time there’s a raid. You’ve got to earn your keep.
At its core, Going Medieval is incredibly fun, and terribly addictive, but there are still a few kinks that I’d like to see worked out. This review won’t put a score on it just yet, because we recognize that it hasn’t quite released, is still in Early Access, and is making large strides to improve some issues before it officially releases. Would I recommend it? This might surprise you, but yes! I’m a little harder on this title because it has so much potential. Even now, it is a ridiculously fun game, with tons to do before you hit that tile wall. Who’s to say you’ll even make it that far? Nights are cold, and raiders can be brutal. Honestly, you’ll be lucky enough just to make it through the first winter.
A key was provided for the purpose of this review.