Games of the Year

Crowntakers

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In an ever-changing world, heroes are the only constants. Dark times are imminent: the king’s abduction throws a once peaceful land into turmoil. Being the chosen one elected by the king himself through one of your dreams, you embark on an adventurous journey to free him from the hands of the evil duke and go down in history as the kingdom’s greatest hero. But time is of the essence… Crowntakers combines turn-based strategy with RPG elements and takes you at the behest of the crown into a medieval fantasy world full of challenging encounters and epic adventures. With its randomly generated world, Crowntakers offers a varied gaming experience every time you set out to fight evil. As a hero on a mission, you’ll have to assemble a group of brave mercenaries to take on cruel enemies like barbarians, ferocious animals or deceitful thieves. Embark on challenging quests, gather vital resources and finally banish evil from the world.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

If you want a medieval FTL then this game is fit for the job, but it doesn't excel at it. I'm going to break this down as simple as I can because there is a lot to chew.
The sound is pleasing. It looks like an old disney cartoon. Characters are distinct but distinct enough to warrant more depth. The enemies are cool but lacking variety. On sale it's a yes, full price it's a maybe.
The sound is fantastic in this game. Not just the music but the way it softens when you're in a menu or how it changes tempo at the end of a battle. Something about it is just very pleasing to the ears. The music in each stage is also great without being so memorable that it gets repetitive.
The visuals are very reminiscent of the days of VHS tape cartoons. Think disney's robin hood or the fox and the hound. So if you're into that sort of thing, there you go. Another thing to note is the way the map folds out in little hexagons as you travel. Whenever you go to click on something the hexagon pops up and back down with a little wooden thump. Like you're playing a game with miniatures.
The characters are a little bland, which is disappointing. In FTL (my only real comparison to this game) you grew a little more attached to the hirelings. They were bland by design so you put a little something into them, but the mercenaries you use in this game are give distinct features and names. It just isn't early enough to warrant individuality. You only get a handful of them so the very least the designers could have done was give them a little flesh. Which isn't a huge problem until you think of longevity.
The Combat is fun, but not as diverse as it could be. Each zone has different mobs, with their own abilities and such. By the time you figure one out and get the hang of it, you get to another zone and get rocked all over again. Which I love, it keeps you on your toes as you advance, but there is no mixing. Which seems odd for any unit based strategy game. It's not repetitive, at least as far as I've played, but it would make things a lot more interesting if it did. Other than that the combat is a chess match of positions and unit abilities and chaining attacks. If you love strategy you'll like the combat.
I think that's enough information for anyone on the fence, so I'll stop there.

Review from Steam

Yes, the size and scope of this roguelike fantasy tactical FPG does feel a bit mobilely; however, it's full game with no pay-to-win hooks. The closet relative of which I'm aware is FTL in the sense that it's a game of multiple stages where the objective is to gather enough resources to beat the final boss, and most of the time (even on the Easy setting) you will not be able to do so because of the RNG.
I defeated Easy in about 20 hours, and took about 8 attempts to do so once the other stage bosses were clear and I am thoroughly lame. (For instance, I did not even realize in over 8 hours of play that you could at any time in battle select of any your characters to use the next action point in a turn, and, thus, was limiting myself to the random order that the characters were selected by the game.) Each of the 9 available characters has two unlockable forms (each with one unique skill) in additional to its starting form, and so it's worth paying attention to what it takes to unlock the additional forms as you work through Easy, because otherwise you will probably have to grind a bit on Easy to do so. The additional forms are not necessary but do add variety to the available tactics.
Normal is much more challenging, and I cannot imagine with my poor play skills the kind of luck that it would take for me to beat it. The bosses reset in every run on Normal, and every character starts from level 1, and so experience and food become much more relevant resources.
Like Nethack, it's a fun challenge even if you have no resonable expectation of ever defeating it. It's quite a bit simpler and shorter than Nethack. (No item testing required in this game: once you know what an item does, it will do the same thing in all games and so you can safely sell the 4 poison kinds of muchrooms, for instance, once you know which they are.) You can easiliy get through even a comparatively succesful run attempt in less than 2 hours. I thoroughly enjoy this game.

Review from Steam

This game is fun. It's challenging, you will die and start over again and again. But you keep all of your experience when you do, so it's not like you're starting over from scratch each time. Randomly generated levels keeps monotony out of the game and you can control how long you want to spend on each level. The gameplay makes you put a lot of thought into battle strategy, money/item management and character development.
Each chacter class has unique skills and equipment management/upgrade is very simple. Gold can be hard to come by and to go along with the randomly generated levels, all merchandise and item pick-ups will be different every time. It's like starting a new hand of poker, you can get lucky or you can be screwed from the beginning.
A good game to have for any lover of turn-based strategy games.

Review from Steam

The kingdom is in peril following a successful coup attempt. Only you and your hired band of mercenaries can take back the crown and restore peace to the lands.
Positive impressions:
- Roguelike turn-based strategy combined with light RPG elements at its simplest and purest form.
- Procedurally generated maps provide a unique experience on each playthrough.
- Fairly large index of consumables, items, upgrades, relics, and runes – with the addition of an Undead Undertakings DLC pack which introduces a new mercenary, location, achievements, items and enemies.
- Fairly decent selection of unlockable and hireable mercenaries to accompany you on your quest. Each mercenary has his or her unique stats, skills and story.
- Gameplay is simple and responsive, as you would expect from a simple turn-based hexagonal strategy game.
- Very simple and charming cartoony art style.
- There is always a hidden element of uncertainty when investigating or searching an area, or levelling your band of heroes. Just like any good game of chess, the game almost certainly encourages you to plan ahead and apply upgrades to your group carefully.
- Crowntakers thrives on the element of play, die, repeat. Your stats and the stats of your mercenaries reset upon restart, but that makes the long and agonising trip to the castle that much more rewarding when you finally claim victory.
- Enemies become stronger with each passing day. The longer you spend in towns in search of a bargain, or the more you engage in battles for gold and quality drops, the greater the difficulty of your enemies.
- Multiple story endings depending on how quickly you reach the castle.
- Upbeat and unique soundtrack delivers to satisfaction. Battle tracks are especially very well done – particularly the final encounter track at the castle.
Negative impressions
- Once you get to grips with the gameplay and mechanics you can finish the game quite quickly. It took me 4 hours to complete my first run, but that's because I chose to explore every house, engage in every fight, and get my group levelled up. I also had to lose a few times to unlock playable mercenaries. You can easily complete the game in less than 3 hours on your first run.
- Lack of enemy variety. New enemies will appear here and there, but they are reskinned versions of enemies fought on previous levels with extra health, armour, or critical hit potential. This excludes boss encounters, which are genuinely unique and different.
- The one-off side quest assigned by a new mercenary presents an additional change in the repetitive cycle of missions. However, once you unlock all mercenaries, there are no more unique side quests to unlock.
- Only two difficulty settings: Easy and normal.
- No modifiers or enemy handicaps to manually introduce an element of difficulty (ie. Ironman mode on XCOM).
- The story is very superficial and you lose the urgency to reach the castle very early on. The game will feed you updates from the king every now and again, but it doesn’t quite do the job. It also provides no replay value other than to unlock the alternative ending.
- Soundtrack is bugged – both on the Steam and mobile version. The audio would randomly stop playing and resume whenever it feels like it. How has this simple bug been allowed to persist for so long?
- Save feature may also be potentially bugged. I saved and quit the game. Returned later to find myself one level behind and missing a few items. I did not bother checking this again though.
- I like my game soundtracks. Official soundtrack release, please!
I would recommend Crowntakers despite the equalling list of positive and negative points mentioned above. I had an incredible time with Crowntakers and happily invested 20+ hrs across both Steam and mobile. However, this recommendation comes with the urge of maybe holding out for a discounted price. £6.99, personally, is a little too steep for a game that can be finished in less than 3 hours with very little replay value unless you are an achievement hunter or would like to explore the attributes of each individual mercenary (which is what I did). There are lingering bugs and a chronic absence of essential game mechanics for a roguelike strategy game such as this one, but despite all that, it is a fun little gem.

Review from Steam

First impressions - a thoroughly enjoyable hoot of a game. The gameplay is fluid and instinctive, the music is superb and even with only 40 mins of playtime under my belt, it's had me grinning several times with some wonderful humour. One thing, easy mode does NOT mean it's easy to beat.. easy to pick up the mechanics and play certainly, but a challenge to beat without a doubt. A brilliantly executed and fun game that I suspect will have me going back for "one more try" for many hours to come.
One thing.. there has been a slight hiccup with the pre-order DLC that the devs have responded to and sorted with haste. Full marks :)

Review from Steam

The game feels very much like a mobile game, and a quick google says it is also coming for android and iOS. So it is not surprising.
But unlike many mobile made games the PC version works well and the game itself is good fun if you liek the rogue-like genre.
Tactical and challenging battles keep you on your toes as you try to advance through teh random gen maps. You will die allot as you leanr the ropes. Gold is a little hard to find, and i seem to get lots of locked chests early game but then non once i get hold of lock picks, maybe a bug or I am just extremely unlucky.
Put a couple of hours into the game first time out, time flew by which is always a good sign with a game, would definatly recommend for fellow rogue-like gamers.

Review from Steam

So I have about 15 hours logged in this game. I've unlocked all of the characters, and all of their seperate loadouts. I did all of this on easy, which is the only game mode available to you until you beat the game once.
This game is actually a lot of fun. I really enjoy a lot of aspects of it. It does a good job of blending the resource managment that you find necessary in roguelikes with the meaningful strategic choices that are present in any good tactical RPG. The engine works pretty well, I've only had one freeze, and one sound bug. But it autosaves before every fight, so no crash is every too big of a deal.
My biggest problem with this game is that it feels, mechanically and systemically, unbalanced. It seems to work at first glance, but the more you play it the more you find yourself consistently frustrated by stupid things.
A perfect example of this is their equiptment upgrade paths. In the game, you upgrade your character's equptment by using upgrade materials (Iron->Steel->Gold for Weapons;Cloth->Leather->Gold for Armor). The upgrade itself doesn't add any stats to the equiptment, but rather adds a slot to it. That slot can be filled with a rune to grant various bonuses. The important thing to note here is that any upgrade is, by itself, useless. Without a rune, there is no reason to upgrade, These materials can be found in the world, or bought from the blacksmith. Now here's the thing: Each character you recruit into your party needs to start with iron before moving onto steel, but iron stop showing up in shops or the world around zone 3 of 8. So unless you horde enough iron to upgrade all of your future recruits by the time you leave the third zone, you can never upgrade them. And this directly goes against what a good roguelike player would do. They wouldn't waste money (which is used to do pretty much everything in the game) on materials that they can't use for another 50% of the campaign. Its locking away valuble gold in useless assets.
This is an EASY problem to fix. Just have certain events have an option to drop iron/cloth in later zones. Boom. Done. But this level of imbalance persists throughout the game across a lot of little mechanics.
My other big concern is that the difference between 'easy' and 'norma' is the difference between night and day. The difficult jump is so large in fact, that it qualifies as a design flaw in my opinion. Not necessarily how hard it is, but the fact that you force the player to play easy mode, a lot, before unlocking normal, and then expose them, with no transition, to the insanely more difficult normal mode just seems silly. Not only that, but the differences between the two modes isn't actually explained. They mention that your characters will all start from level 1, and you are foced to fight the bosses at the end of each level, but that's just a small part of what makes it so different.
The differences I've noticed are:
Characters start from level 1
Fewer rewards from battles
Significantly faster enemy growth
Must fight bosses
Majority of objects in the world are now locked, and require a lockpick
Lockpicks no longer sold in stores
Res scrolls no longer sold in stores
Mercenary selected is restricted to 2 ranom mercs selected from the roster of 9 at each tavern (biggest and most significant change after the level honestly)
I am going to keep playing normal, but as of right now (especially considering how luck dependant the combat can feel sometimes) I fail to see how it's beatable.
TL;DR REVIEW:
Good game. Needs a few patches. Don't get excited about Normal mode though, just play and enjoy the mandatory Easy mode when its still beatable and fun.

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