Posted: April 21
If you know of this game you've probably heard it refered to as a "sibling murder, incest, warmonger, and religious intolerance map simulator" or something of the like. While this is a humurous synopsis of the experience - and mostly true - it's not very helpful if you're trying to decide whether or not to dump copious amounts of cash into this thing. I mean, just look at all the DLC. It's at least 160 something odd dollars for all of it. So, is it worth it?
The short answer: maybe. I know that's a ♥♥♥♥♥♥ short answer, but hear me out. This game is niche. Very, very niche. It's unique certainly, but that does not change the fact that you could very well absolutely hate it. For starters, if you're thinking of making this purchase and have not played other games like this one (Europa Universalis etc.) then go watch Arumba's guide on how to play it. Also, pay attention to the fact that it's 22 videos long of about 18 minutes each. Granted, they are very in-depth, but this does not change the fact that understanding how this game works is not easy. It's an experience, and you will have to put time and effort into this game to get any sort of rewarding feeling for playing it. However, once you reach that point it becomes something very fun. Suddenly your son dieing of small pox leaving your daughter the only one to inherit becomes a challenge, rather than a guaranteed game over. Your neighbor converting to a different religion becomes an opperunity, not a reason to cower hoping that they won't declare war. The Pope becomes your "friend" rather than the guy that excommunicates you so your neighbor can steal your ♥♥♥♥. It goes on and on.
Now, I like this game. I want that to be clear. However, this is not a game for everyone. It's not a game made for everyone either, hence the price point. This game in itself is a bit of a hobby, and while the price is stupidly high, it's about 6 or 7 expansions of decent content and a butt load of not so decent penny grabs. However, playing without all the dlc is very different from playing with all the dlc, and the game with dlc is objectively better most of the time. It's got more content, a bigger map, more events, religions, etc. As such, if your on the fence about this game, I'd suggest waiting until it goes on sale - as it does usually every so often - and pick up the whole thing for about 25~30ish dollars. At that price I'd hands down suggest this game to anyone with even a remote interest, but whether or not it's worth the full 160 is your decision, and you might regret it.
Onto what this game actually is. In essence, you play as a family, not a single character. You do play as one person at a time, but you are survived by your children or relatives. You build power through war - which is not as exciting as it sounds - and intrique - which is. This game is not about the combat. It matters, yes, but playing a warmonger is only fun for about the first 80 hours put into a dynisty before you own all of Europe and are expanding into uncivilized lands. It is - above all - a game about the sibling murder, the incest, the bribing, the corruption, the intrigue, the homosexuals, the lovers, the concubines, the children, the murdering of the children, the arranged marriages, the raiding, the power struggles, the underlings - the dirty, dirty unloyal underlings - the castle building, the character improvement, the ruling, and - above all - the characters. This game has no story, and yet the best story of any game I've ever played. Everything that happens is your legacy. You murdered the duke and stole his titles, well that's now part of your family legacy. Married into Royalty. That's there too. The whole game is about building your own alternative histories where the Scottish get invaded by the Moors and become Muslims, where Russia is formed early and fends off the mongols, where the Viking Pagan Empire stretches from Iceland to India. It's about doing whatever the hell you want, and it's glorious.
This game is fun, and half of the fun is figuring out why its fun. But for the love of all that is watched over by Zun, don't spend 160 bucks on the thing if you're unsure it's your cup of tea. It might be the best tea you've ever had, but wait until its on sale.