Some of you may be reading the title of this review and experience some deja vu. “Didn’t I read a review for this game a while back?” “Wasn’t this supposed to come out, like, five years ago?”. The reason for this is because Fallen Enchantress is based on a very popular PC game called Master of Magic, and, in 2010, Stardock launched Elemental: War of Magic. Calling War of Magic a game is a bit of an overstatement, however; it was broken, buggy, and even more to the point, unplayable. Fans were disappointed, and critics ripped War of Magic to bits, which caused it to tank score-wise. It was one of the worst PC launches of the generation, if not of all time.
Two years later, Stardock Entertainment is giving it another shot with Fallen Enchantress, a remake/apology for the original game launched back in 2010. Did the developers finally get themselves together and fix the game, or did they just throw out a lazy bug patch? Surprisingly, they have done a pretty good job.
Fallen Enchantress doesn’t shock and awe from the start; the intro cinematic quickly becomes boring and not very appealing, and the presentation of the game is clearly dated. On top of that, the tutorial doesn’t do the game justice and gives a very simple overview of the basics of the game. It has a slow beginning; the early game is tedious and quite difficult, especially the first time, but as you enter the mid-game, things finally open up.
Once you start raising large armies, managing several cities, and waging war on several targets at once, Fallen Enchantress shows off its true colors. It really is a game which thrives on a large scale, which is why I found it surprising it didn’t offer many large maps. If you patiently play through the not-so-great early game, you will be quite pleased by how much the game changes as you get over that first hump. If you play your mid-game right, Fallen Enchantress won’t pose too much resistance later. In the late game you are very powerful, and most enemy forces will crumble before you. I didn’t have too much of a problem with an easier end-game, as by that point you are so proud of having amassed such a large empire that crushing foes with such ease feels just too damn good.
The game feels very familiar to Civilization, but has enough differences to make it feel unique. First of all, you control one character in Fallen Enchantress. If he dies, it’s game over. On top of that, the game is a bit less sandbox-like compared to Civilization, following a more linear, simplified quest structure. It works quite well, and the Fallen Enchantress does a good job of dumbing down some more boring factors such as resource collection and micromanagement so you can focus all your energy on conquering the world.
Striking alliances is something you should be looking forward to doing, as it is essential to your survival in Fallen Enchantress. I was quite shocked to see the AI play so aggressively just a handful of turns after the game started. Like I said, the early game is the hardest part, meaning you have to be able to last a few fights against opponents who would rather see you dead than have a reasonable and calm discussion on settling your differences. At the same time, you should try to make some friends along the way. They don’t do much in terms of helping you out when attacking an enemy faction, but it’s nice to have them watch your back and not betray you unexpectedly like every Civilization match ever.
Overall, I was quite pleased with how the game turned out to be. Having never played the original War of Magic, I only had horror stories to go by, so I expected the worse. Fallen Enchantress is far from perfect, but it still offers a solid strategic experience. It’s presentation is clearly dated, and the game doesn’t exactly try to appeal to people unfamiliar with the genre, so it’s definitely not a game for everyone, at least at first sight. This is more of a personal apology to all of the fans who were disappointed by 2010′s War of Magic and who finally got the game they asked for and deserved.
If you’ve been holding off to see if Fallen Enchantress wasn’t just a War of Magic 2, rejoice. It’s not, and you should buy it. Of course, if you are curious about the game but are unfamiliar with turn-based strategy, I can’t recommend the game. This isn’t because it’s a bad game: it’s because it isn’t very accessible for a gamer unfamiliar with its key concepts. I would suggest picking up a copy of Civilization to see if it suits you first, and you can always check out the Fallen Enchantress official website if you’re curious.
A copy of the game was provided for review.