The PC Gaming Show is often seen as a soporific conference, with too many games and titles not big enough to generate interest. But in 2019 and 2021, ONE game managed to grab the attention of the fighters. Songs of Conquest, and its gorgeous pixel art environments, have presented themselves as the worthy heir to the Heroes of Might and Magic saga. Today the game is available in Early Access. Does it keep its promises?
Graphics, scenery … A beautiful song
The game has captivated players through the eyes, so let’s start there! Songs of Conquest is magnificent. The zoom level allows you to appreciate both large and harmonious maps, even if sometimes a little too linear, and fascinating details. It’s teeming with little animations, like those cute little pigs bouncing around your farms. Each of the 4 factions has its own paw, both for its cities and for its units. Thus, severe corruption spreads on the ground under the influence of necromancers, while the walk in a forest inhabited by spirits enchants you, and generates the acute discomfort of not feeling where you should be. Skeletons are freaking out, frogs are fun … In short, there’s the cachet.
The view is amplified by the soundtrack. The music works for both quiet moments and fights, and the title’s “Songs” take on their full meaning when, between two scenarios, a song-like movie comes to narrate the ongoing adventure. The idea of including everything the player does in this narrative justifies a verbose language of the protagonists of the adventure, with nice turns of phrase or rhymes. Everything is translated into French, and the adventure is deeper than it seems. No choice to make here – you are told a story and then have to accept the consequences. And sometimes, we wonder if we really play the good guys …
There are two campaigns available, which can take you a significant number of hours, easily ten depending on your desire to loot the entire map. Skirmish modes and online multiplayer allow you to play with 4 factions, customizing your game. We are promised more content later, without further details, but we can expect new factions and campaigns in particular. Finally, a level editor is present but it is still very perfectible, and the developers are aware of this and are working on it. If a community aspect intensifies, we don’t get bored!
Combat, management … Beautiful achievements, sometimes difficult
If you have known the first Heroes of Might and Magic, this game will delight you, the expected leitmotifs are present! The game is played in two stages. On the one hand, the main map, where you explore the surroundings round after round. Your Wonderworker takes his batteries of soldiers with him and accumulates riches or conquers cities. Also, there is no specific screen to manage these cities, happens directly on the motherboard. Your constructions have positions defined in advance and your actions therefore have a visual impact. A way to recite such scales while adding a refreshing melody. Your village will become a fortress and each building can be looted individually. So there is a fair balance to be found between defense structures, recruiting buildings and resource generating buildings, it’s fun! Another originality: a research system that improves your economy or your units.
The second phase is the fights, more classic for those who have already touched a tactical RPG. We are surprised at the fast pace of the fights at first. Weak enemies are eliminated … And conversely, our beautiful army can be taken down in minutes without really understanding what’s going on. As such, we feel a bit like we are in early access. The first scenarios of the campaign leave you with a sense of tranquility and, after a while, in the following scenarios, a super powerful enemy comes out of nowhere and annihilates you. It’s surprising and a little frustrating, the game can fall out of your hands when you realize that you have to start your ranges from scratch to hope to compete, setting aside more secondary areas, kind of like dying and trying again. Especially when this famous great hero arrives after several hours of play and makes us understand that we have to start all over again, or hide to train a new army slowly …
There is no doubt that the rebalancing will be done shortly by the developers. But let’s not sulk our pleasure, the fights introduce original systems that work well. Magic is subtle: each unit, at the start of its turn, gives you specific magic points. Soldiers give Order points and spirits give Chaos points, for example. This system forces you to think more about how to build your army. Rather gather his troops to be stronger or separate them to generate more magic? You can cast as many spells as you have points available, on a pre-established book. Too bad to have everything from the beginning, it takes away the pleasure of discovering a new spell.
Finally, hats off to the initiative system, well done and which plans to be the conductors. The positioning of the units is fundamental, you have to anticipate the movements of your opponents as in a game of chess. Ditto for the range system for ranged weapons, at different levels. All put together, it gives fast and nervous fights, with a lot of things to consider. Exhilarating!
Slightly “earlier” than “access” interfaces
Aside from the rebalancing problem that will no doubt be solved in the future, interfaces also have some problems. The desire to integrate them into the gameplay, rather than putting menus all over the place, is a great idea. But that shouldn’t be at the expense of visibility. Maybe we lacked vigilance, but you can only find the unit’s special abilities button after hours of play, when it was close to their life bar from the very beginning … The tutorial, succession of texts to read, is not much engaging and does not even tell us that the Alt key on the keyboard allows you to view the clickable elements on the main map, although it is very practical!
Finally, the player could probably be better advised of what is happening, especially in terms of city management. There is a notification system, barely visible in one corner of the screen. A visual clue that an upgrade can be purchased would be nice, for now you should remember to check the buildings so you don’t forget anything. Finally, leaving troops on duty in a city and organizing the defense is still laborious. These very small complaints shouldn’t cloud the good ideas of the gamebut come on, even if it means challenging, if the loading times between the combat phase and the main map could be a little shorter… Thanks in advance!
- Gorgeous pixel art
- Captivating music
- Well written campaigns
- Great ideas for battles
- City management integrated into the map
- We need a rebalancing
- Interfaces not always clear
- Information that is difficult to access
Songs of Conquest is beautiful and fascinating as it suggests, it is a worthy heir to the old Heroes of Might and Magic. It makes noticeable and welcome improvements to the old formula and will already know how to keep you busy right from its early access. Some rebalancing and some improvements in the interfaces, and it could very well become such a staple!
Give your opinion on the game!