Endless Legend Blog (a beautiful game to watch)

Steam had a free weekend for Endless Legend, amongst other “Endless” games that include Endless Space and Dungeon of the Endless. This reminded me that I actually own Endless Legend and it was time to give it a try for the first time! I loved playing Dungeon of the Endless and so I was expecting more of the same twists to a different yet stale genre. What I got was 12 hours of me watching a gorgeous game.

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Oh its not like the Sims, you can’t actually watch it. Well maybe you can, but I was still playing the game in the loosest form of the world. Its a game that I could work out and do reps in between being active and when I say being active what I really mean is pushing the button for the next turn. That was the first 4 hours. Just pushing that button thinking wow this game is really gorgeous I can see why its several game of the year awards back in 2014. It sounds great. Its a game that I want to see and hear.

Its also a game that might be better if I was allowed to play it. The game is on auto pilot much in the same way that Civilization is, because its the same turn based strategy game. Only Endless Legend is in a fantastical medieval fantasy world with creatures that look like elves and Jedi warriors with long tails off their head.

After four hours in, that’s why I fought my first battle! I wasn’t too thrilled about it, because usually any sort of confrontation in games of this nature mark the beginning of the end for me. Usually I get bullied by the game and I stop playing. I declare war on you little nation that only wants peace, now watch as I march into your settlements and topple them because I sank all of my resources into my army! Then another nation says, “me too!” “Yeah I did too,” says a third nation. From the back of the room I hear, “We all did!” Then the fifth nation asks, “what and you didn’t?” Let’s all declare war on the player one by one!

I retreated from battle before I even participated. I was clearly over matched, so it was time to build my army and that’s just what I did. I spent an hour building up an army and then it was off to battle! That’s when I got a chance to watch the game battle for me. See there’s a turn based battle system that every reviewer buzzes about and how fresh and original it is. Yeah but it doesn’t let YOU the player play these turn based battles. You watch them play out on the same hexigrid of the world. Its brilliant and awesome, its just that I’m not playing. The game is playing.

Even on manual, all I have is control at the beginning of each phase to assign who my troops attack. That’s it. Its not even when they have a turn, its the beginning of the phase. Selecting everything and looking at the higher percentages of attack to defense ration and carefully planning everything just feels inconsequential. It doesn’t matter and its a chore to do time and time again with each phase. Especially if you have thirteen units in the battle. So its easier just to spectate.

That’s what I did for the next 8 hours, spectate battles. Well that’s a lie after 6 hours of spectating battles, I needed to move on with life and push through the game. So I ended up cheating and doing auto battles. Each battle resulted in a draw time after time. I’d even switch out the armies for stronger ones and again time after time its a draw over and over. It seemed silly that a fortified army of 2 units in a city could withstand 4 armies of 6 units each.

Then I decided to take one of my armies that drew each time and I’d spectate. We decimated the two units. Oh I was a little pissed off, I had auto battled for an hour only to simulate (watch) a 5 – 10 minute battle and win so easily and decisively. There were 12 of my units against 2 of theirs with 12 more on the horizon.

So now I can’t leave anything up to chance, I need to watch these battles play out. I’m sure it was only attacking the settlement that I had an issue with. Some settlements caused a glitch that apparently is a game mechanic, where you can keep damaging a unit, see the damage but the unit’s health doesn’t reduce. I figured out that it was a city thing, but the game doesn’t make reference to it and its a little frustrating.

Another hilarious thing about the game is after the battle ends, your units still need to carry out their moves. I guess this is so healers can heal everyone, but its just so strange wasting time after a match like that.

I’m astounded that so many websites had this as a game of the year and it really has to be by the look of the game alone. Its fantastic to look at, but its just a time waster having to simulate every battle, unable to take control of your own fate. Why even have it if there’s no control? Just to be different as a selling point to make it a fresh twist to a stale genre?

It goes back to my thought about games on Desura, as much as I laugh at how awful Desura games are, their real crippling flaw is that they all look cheap and homemade. If endless legend looked cheap or homemade it wouldn’t be such a gem. I hate to say that graphics and sound matter, but they do. Even an 8-bit retro art style helps a game when it can’t look as great as Endless Legend.

Back to watching the game play itself! Actually its been going in the background as I type this. All I need to do is move the units to set them to attack, then simulate the battle and go back to blogging. Endless Legend, the game of the year game that you can multitask while playing.

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