With all of the hype for the huge release of “Starcraft 2” last week, it can be pretty easy to look over some of the other potentially lesser known titles released around the same time. Developed by Akella and published by Kalypso Media for the PC for $40 via Steam, “Disciples 3: Renaissance” was released on July 13 and offers some pretty serious turn-based strategy combined with RPG elements, but brings with it a rather dull and un-interesting story… Or maybe I just didn’t get it because the voice acting is terrible. Now I love me some Medieval Fantasy RPG action, and I love to get really involved in strategy games, but is “Disciples 3” something that YOU should check out? And what the hell is Disciples anyway? I mean, I’d never even heard of the previous titles. Well, let’s just check it out, here’s “Disciples 3: Renaissance”.
As I said before, I had a hard time deciphering what the heck was going on in this game, perhaps because I’d not played the previous titles, or perhaps because the way the story was presented was just odd. Before each mission a narrator reads a script on the loading screen that is supposed to explain what’s going on, but the script is written like a submission to a creative writing class, and as such was not straight to the point.
The game takes place in the land of Nevendaar, a mythical land filled with humans, elves, dwarves, demons and undead… you know, the typical mythical fantasy world, and the story crosses three campaigns which encompass the playable races of the Empire, The Legion of the Damned, and the Elves. Basically some wise men have prophesized the end of the world when a star falls from the sky, so each of the factions send a hero to investigate. It turns out the star was actually an angel with remarkable powers and has some kind of mission but can’t remember what exactly it is. Each of the three factions have varied interests in her powers and that’s pretty much it. The game is a struggle between the factions as to who will utilize this Angel.
I really had a hard time following what was going on most of the time and that made me not care about the story at all. There are some power struggles, deception and love, but none of it really matters. At least the game is fun to play.
Each of the three campaigns in “Disciples 3” offer 6 levels and each should take you between 2 and 4 hours to complete, giving you something like 30 to 60 hours of game-play. On top of that you’ve got a single match mode and a Hot Seat mode that gives you some additional missions to play but all of the content in the game is single player, which is kind of a letdown because multiplayer battles would have been really neat.
I actually really enjoyed the design of the game. It’s cool that you have to strategize on multiple levels. The way in which you plan your moves on the exploration screen can significantly affect the way that the battles will play out for you in the battle screen, but the game is not without its problems. I ran into a bug several times in that when it was an enemy’s turn to move, it acted as if I had control of them, but wasn’t able to perform any actions and eventually locked up the screen. I also found a way to cheat by allowing my hero to have more units in their party than he was supposed to.
The game-play of “Disciples 3” is extremely addicting and the hours will just fly by as you play as there are so many game-play mechanics to keep you interested the whole time. Each campaign follows a primary hero character with their own inventory, and stats and skills that level up via battle. Each hero character has a limited number of units that may be in their party at a time and they have a limited number of spaces they may move on the exploration screen per turn. In addition, once per turn the hero may upgrade their town and cast a spell on themselves or an enemy party leader.
Spread throughout the exploration screen are territories that may be claimed, typically by fighting off a powerful guardian creature, and upon doing so, will grant you a certain number of resources each turn for as long as you hold it. Resources may be spent to hire additional troops to garrison at your cities or carry with you in your party, as well as upgrade the buildings in your primary city, which act as the tech tree for your units.
In the chess-like battles, each unit has a limited number of spaces they may move per turn and you have a wide variety of unit types to play with including fighters, casters, healers and ranged damage dealers. Some units have special abilities that may be activated, or they may use an item from a shared inventory pool from the party leader. There is a lot of strategy involved in these battles as most of the time you are out-manned or out-leveled, but over time the battles get quite drawn out and very repetitive, so luckily you can press the auto-battle button which will simulate the results of the battle for you as long as you can accept that the computer won’t play as good as you.
When I first started the game I was immediately blown away with the wonderful graphics and distinct attention to detail, as well as the freaking amazing sound track that drew me in and got me ready to get immersed into what seemed to be a wonderful fantasy world. It is very clear that so much time was spent designing the beautiful game world, graphics and soundtrack that they must have simply run out of money when it came to voice acting and had to hire the marketing guy’s grandpa. The story in-game is told through text windows so the only voice acting is from the narrator between missions and he is absolutely terrible! I actually muted my sound during the loading screens as I found it much more enjoyable simply to read the dialog.
I’ve got some strong mixed feelings about “Disciples 3: Renaissance”. The story is either really crappy or it’s just not well told but the game design is great and the game-play is addicting and fun even though it gets stale after a while. The presentation is wonderfully immersive with beautifully detailed graphics and animations and an engaging soundtrack. It’s too bad that the terrible voice acting of the narrator draws you away from the fantasy world. All in all, the game just left an average taste in my mouth. If you are looking for a pretty decent strategy game and are more in to turn-based action as opposed to real time, you might give it a try. What do you guys think? Starcraft 2 or Disciples 3? Leave your questions and comments below.
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Review Video: http://www.youtube.com/ZeitgeistReview
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**This title was provided to me free of charge from the publisher to review for you.