Songs of Conquest Brings Old-School Might and Magic Vibes to a New Age
We live in an era of throwbacks, nostalgia, and spiritual successors, but it’s not often that I’m immediately drawn to one of them, as I was with Songs of Conquest. Looking to relive the heydays of classic fantasy strategy games like Heroes of Might and Magic, developer Lavapotion put together a relatively simple formula that still has a lot of built-in depth. It doesn’t try to be overly ambitious or completely reinvent the genre, but it does help make it a breath of fresh air in a lot of the right ways. Songs of Conquest has two levels: a turn-based campaign map where you’ll move your hero and his followers to find secrets, complete quests, and collect resources, and a tactical battle screen where you’ll fight knights, fairies, and the undead. Both are done in a moody pixel art style that looks like something from the late 90s, but with some nice touches that give it a modern feel. It’s very charming, striking a balance between being respectful and incorporating things we’ve learned about user interface and readability over the years.
Screenshots of Songs of Conquest
Exploring a variety of maps includes controlling resources, recruiting new troops, and unlocking story fragments. Building upgrades give you access to more unit types, and you’ll also level up your “Owner” and equip them with RPG hero-style equipment. They don’t really participate in everyday battles, but various items can give bonuses to your troops or allow you to take more of them with you.
Turn-based tactical combat is fast-paced and straightforward but has many nuances in the terrain and initiative system that need to be mastered. Ranged troops, unlike most similar games, do not have a percentage chance to hit. Rather, they deal more damage the closer they are to their target. This can also be increased if you attack from a higher height. So, instead of deciding whether to bet on a long shot, you can choose exactly how much you’re willing to trade your safe position for more offensive power.
Your wielder actually uses his power in combat with spells whose mana can be part of one or more of the five schools. The catch is that the mana for these spells is generated when your normal troops attack based on each unit’s elemental affinity. The baronies of Arleon, for example, can recruit many normal human troops that have a penchant for Order, as well as forest-dwelling faeries who prefer Chaos. Sticking to one kinship or choosing to mix and the match has a big impact not only on the type of troops in your field, but also on what abilities you can use. And no faction has access to all.
Songs of Conquest also includes a fairly detailed campaign with rousing original music that tells the story of Baroness Cecilia the Stout as she attempts to secure her rule in the face of many challenges. I’ve only seen a small snippet so far, but the storytelling was satisfying in its kind of paperback fantasy novel.
So far, the storytelling has been satisfying as a paperback fantasy novel.
From what I’ve seen so far, Songs of Conquest looks like the best kind of spiritual successor. It’s not overly ambitious or trying to cram in too many systems, but the formula that inspired its development has been tweaked subtly enough that I’m not wondering why I don’t just reinstall Heroes of Might and Magic 3. The world is very nice to look at, The factions have distinct and interesting characters, and the exploration and combat are fast, fun, and intriguing. We’ll be able to explore it together when it enters Early Access later this year.