Medieval dynastyseems both simple and complex at first glance. There are no fantastic creatures as found in The Witcher. There doesn’t seem to be a world-changing war, intrigue, or conspiracy like you’d find in a game like Kingdom Come: Deliverance. This is a game about life in the Middle Ages, from building nothing to essentially running your own village, or possibly even bigger than that.
Medieval Dynasty, published by Toplitz Productions, follows a pattern from previous Dynasty Titles (Lumberjack Dynasty & Farmers Dynasty) in that it is a mix of simulation and an open world RPG, combined with building mechanics and, added in this game, survival mechanics. It wouldn’t be far if you called developers, Render Cube (assisted in developing The Witcher 3), a group of kleptomaniacs in the game mechanics store. Still, it should work, it has in the past – at least most aspects of it.
During my hands-off preview of Medieval Dynasty, I saw a lot of what the game has to offer, even though it was early on. You start with nothing, you are a skilled farmer in a wide open piece of medieval land (4 square kilometers) with few inhabitants, here and there a few farmers and a village or two. The real population center will come when you actually build your settlement wherever you decide.
The map itself has quite a bit of variation from what I’ve been shown. You have lush forests, some large plains, a river that runs through the map, some hills and even a mountain range. In the beginning you will find yourself starting in a village that is not yours. Meet the village leader, let him stop you in that village. You have to build your own house. Start in a traditional survival game sense by picking up stones and sticks, making your own tools, using the tools to cut down trees, making more aspects and building yourself from the ground up.
However, don’t forget to eat and drink, this is a survival game after all. Trek through the forest with your newly made bow and arrows, shoot a nearby deer or boar, get what you need and then go home to make a fire and cook your food. Luckily, while the game includes all of these craft and survival elements, Render Cube is focused on making sure the game is approachable and enjoyable, never becoming overpowering and intrusive.
At the moment, this hands-off attitude seems to be negative in terms of quests. It’s just an early preview, so of course, when it comes out there may be more, but all I’ve seen so far are missions that follow the tutorial, get started, and then those where you just stuff for people collect, act, that kind of thing. Nothing feels ‘great’ right now.
This does not mean that you will not experience any problems. Part and aspect of Medieval Dynasty is a weather system that will have a major impact on your survival, not just by changing the visual aspects of the game. In particular, you will see that winter needs you to prepare and stock up on food. I can’t confirm this as a fact, the memory fails, but I think you may also need to manage your clothes and make sure you have a burning fire and spread heat.
What I do know is that when you eventually build your own town or city, you have to keep the rest of your villagers happy by making sure they have the means to live, to feed them well, to keep them ‘ warm at night. If they are not kept happy, they will gladly move to another village, another settlement. If you have problems with certain resources, you can also trade with these other villages and settlements, sell what you have in abundance and stock up on what you lack.
Whatever happens, life continues. This applies to you, just like anyone else. As such, part of your story will be managing your own family, meeting a partner and having a child, raising your child, and when you eventually die, your child will take over. Well, I assume you should meet a partner when your child takes over and they just don’t have a partner right away. This is the whole dynasty part of the game; you manage the family through the ages.
There’s no question that Medieval Dynasty is one of the most ambitious games Toplitz has commissioned, what with the open world with a surprising number of elements in it. One element that surprised me was physically digging your own mines and how it works – I was wondering if I could just build a tunnel through a mountain, making my journey faster.
I will not deny that aspects of the medieval dynasty do not grab me at the moment, especially the apparent lack of a large population center (say a walled city with the king or a regional ruler) and also a lack of conflict over land or resources . I am far from someone who demands fighting and conflict in a game. You’ll find myself playing Cities: Skylines for dozens of hours of fun, but an open world survival game like this makes me think it will be necessary.
What will be the goal once you have a functioning city full of NPCs that collect and process the required food and make the necessary equipment, all without real input from yourself? This is where the family system and other outside influences can be pressed to keep it interesting. I will give this one a chance, mainly for the life simulation and construction aspects. That and I love my medieval games in the open world. Still, only time will show us what Render Cube will do.