Blocklords is a grand strategy game set in the medieval era, offering a multitude of player roles ranging from a humble farmer to the ruler of all lands. But what exactly is the nature of this game?
Think of Blocklords as a fusion of Banished and Life is Feudal: Village, with elements borrowed from Mount and Blade: Bannerlord. The latter, in particular, could provide a beacon of inspiration as the game evolves.
In every review I conduct, it's important to understand that none of the games are in their finalized form. This is particularly true for Blocklords, which presently is confined to the smallest corner of the intended scope for the complete game. This is the third alpha version I've tested, and it's amazing to witness the considerable strides it has taken in such a limited time and iterations. I'm pointing this out because the proposed full scope for the game is enormous.
Currently, the game presents an immersive story-style tutorial that efficiently imparts the controls pertaining to the farming/village simulation aspect of the game. A minor gripe I have with this is the fluctuating tone of the guide, alternating between being immersed in the game world and breaking the fourth wall by acknowledging its video game nature. This is more of a nitpick than a gameplay issue.
The tutorial effectively introduces different squads needed for resource acquisition, all the accessible buildings, their usages, and outputs. After this stage and during it, it's up to you to ensure effective resource balancing and collection. This is what we might refer to as the primary loop of the game in its current form, striving to maintain a successful village economy, a task not as straightforward as it sounds.
A recent update introduced random events that can affect your squads. While these don't directly enhance gameplay, they certainly amplify immersion and propel the ongoing narrative of your villagers as you ponder the choice that best serves your economy or the people. Although these events are currently scarce, I anticipate a substantial expansion in future builds to offer significant benefits or disruptions based on your decisions.
Beyond your village, you can visit the city to trade your goods and commodities, thereby helping maintain equilibrium in your village. Alongside, you get the opportunity to pick a land that suits your needs. If the land already has a ruler, you will need to outperform that leader to seize control. If the land is tax-free, it could be your chance to generate as much income as quickly as possible. All these decisions rest with you, the player.
One feature that's conspicuously absent in these early builds is a threat. Currently, there's no danger, whether it be from neighboring lands invading you or the indirect threat of depleting food or other resources. If you run out of food, there are no consequences; you merely wait until you can acquire more the next day. Units don't need food to exist; they only need food to perform actions. While this feels balanced, it lacks a failure state. You can soft-lock yourself, which essentially means you need to take a break from the game until the next day.
In future versions, I hope to see the introduction of threats such as invasions, much like in Mount and Blade, where you navigate a world map screen to travel to other lands and villages, before being thrust into a third-person battle, commanding and leading your units to a triumphant victory!
I had a fantastic experience with this current alpha, to the extent that I even checked on my village and made progress in my leisure time to unlock everything the current build offers. If the game continues its trend of positive development, as I have already experienced, it's going to be a game to look forward to at completion.
Head of GEM
Similar to Mount and Blade, where players can navigate the world map and engage in third-person battles. My experience with the current alpha was amazing, as I found myself regularly checking on my village and making progress in my spare time to unlock everything available. If the game continues to develop as positively as it has so far, it has the potential to be an exciting and highly anticipated release.
Skill-based economy balancing
Depth in resources
Engaging unit control
Awkward controls and camera
Lack of fail state
Need for more content in a complete game