Conquest of Elysium 3 is another chapter in the rather esoteric strategy games series, Conquest of Elysium. The series boasts in-depth strategy and many different factions, while also possessing a very retro feel in its 2D art and simplistic game tiles.
Conquest of Elysium 3’s most noticeable quality is its diversity. There are 18 different factions to choose from, and each faction is totally, utterly different. Most strategy games that possess different factions lack actual gameplay difference between each of them – not here. Each faction is utterly, completely different in its play style. In fact, one of the most difficult things in Conquest of Elysium 3 is getting to grips with the fact that whenever you play a different faction, you’re signing yourself up for essentially a different game every time.
In one faction you’ll be playing a fairly standard feudal lord; knights and heavy infantry on one end with a lot of really crappy peasantry infantry on the other. It’s basically like playing Medieval: Total War (so simple!)! “Let’s try the Dwarves; they’re the same, right?” Nope, they’re completely different, from the way in which they recruit troops to their resources to… basically every single facet of how they play. Say what you will about Conquest of Elysium 3, the game knows how to create diversity.
Sadly, the game doesn’t seem to want players to actually enjoy that diversity. A lot of valuable information is hidden from the player at all times, such as spell effects, creature types and a myriad of other information – the game’s manual essentially tells you that this kind of information is better appreciated when earned through knowledge, but keeping a player ignorant of information he will find useful, only for the purpose of being deliberately obtuse, simply leads to frustration. It also somehow manages to utterly obfuscate any way of actually knowing all the different types of spells and their inherent effects, meaning there doesn’t seem to be an actual way to learn it.
Every single piece of information about the game from what the hell certain spells do, to even basic information such as the actual effect of some of a faction’s core abilities is hidden. I feel like I’ve been set some grand task to complete, with all the tools at my disposal utterly alien to me, and the manual is written in Portuguese. Conquest of Elysium 3 seems to be inherently designed solely for fans of the original series – it is excruciatingly difficult to get into, but is absolutely enjoyable once you’ve slogged up the steep learning curve. The lack of effort put into the menus and overall design decisions leads one to suspect that the developers are frightened of altering a motif established in previous games. A mold has been set, and the developers seem terrified to deviate from it.
Conquest of Elysium 3 has actually been out for about two years now, but it was recently re-released for Android – Conquest of Elysium 3 does seem like it would be a very good smartphone/tablet game, as everything is based on tiles and the game requires very few clicks. Some changes were necessary to compensate for not having a right mouse button, such as holding down your finger to imitate the right click. However the problem is it is very easy to slip up and accidentally select an option you don’t mean to; this, as well as the incredibly tiny text in every single tooltip means it is utterly impossible to actually play competently on a normal sized tablet screen. I was able to progress, albeit with some difficulty in selecting troops and giving movement orders, but that was only because I already understood the mechanics of the game.
From the different factions and strategies, to the myriad of different resources available, Conquest of Elysium 3 is, at its heart, a fun game filled with an incredible amount of diversity. Sadly, clunky controls and poor design decisions that seem to punish the player for wanting to learn about the game they are playing, hinder what could be an enjoyable strategy experience.