Argonwood has the goal of shaking up stagnant genres and their first target is the turn-based strategy genre with Rising Lords. Incorporating a deck building mechanic into combat and an emphasis on resource management, which, if executed poorly, can result in a revolution, there's some interesting angles taken. Have Argonwood struck true with their debut release or were the heart of the cards not with them this time?
The mediaeval setting of Rising Lords comes from a land ruled by a council, as the previous king died after going mad. A revolution led by his own daughter is successful and she then abdicates the throne. Not long after the regime change, the story starts with the player taking control of a lord who recently took the position after his father was killed in combat against bandits. You now have to look after your subjects, find your own sense of leadership, and protect the peasants from threats attacking your borders. Exploring the world set up with this premise was a pleasant experience and was strong enough to keep me interested in coming back.
During combat, you have access to cards that have a strong effect at the cost of a unit's turn, which you use to activate them. These can range from simple ladders so you can assault enemies in a castle without destroying the castle first, to rallying war cries that buff your units, or even shields to weaken enemy archers. Argonwood wants to shake up stale genres and I applaud them for adding this deck-building mechanic as it adds another layer of strategy.
- Interesting world
- Well implemented card mechanic
Unfortunately, the Switch port of Rising Lords is woefully optimised and riddled with lag, softlocking, and awkward controls throughout the entire experience. My first major gripe came from being softlocked in the middle of the tutorial after placing my system on sleep mode for a moment while someone was talking with me. What ended up happening was that no input from my controls was going through no matter what I tried, but the audio was still playing, and with no autosave, I had to start the tutorial again.
Getting past the frustration of restarting the tutorial from the beginning, I found what felt like an insufficient process, especially if you're coming into the turn based strategy genre for the first time. The game tells you to place peasants here or there, add X amount of resources or build this or that, but it doesn't tell you why you should do all of these tasks and how they impact the gameplay. Rising Lords has a steep learning curve with very little help and no real incentive for players to keep coming back.
Once leaving the tutorial and diving into the campaign, I noticed just how much lag there was once things started to progress further. It would take several seconds for each input to register; add this to the unnecessarily challenging campaign mode and I was just about ready to call it quits early on. The campaign itself just felt unnecessarily difficult with high amounts of juggling resources, challenging combat encounters, and the aforementioned game performance issues.
- Poorly optimised
- Highly difficult campaign
- Insufficient tutorial
Final Score: 5/10
Rising Lords has an interesting world to explore, but it is for the most part locked behind a highly difficult campaign. With the struggles that come from just putting the game in sleep mode, the mediocre tutorial, and the overall poor performance, there's a feeling of an early access game given a full release too early. The bones of Rising Lord's are strong enough; with some effort and improvements, there's potential for new additions to the genre; however, the switch port just doesn’t hold up.
Thank you for checking out our Rising Lords Switch review, thank you to Deck13 (via PR Hound) for providing the review code and thank you to our Patreon Backers for their ongoing support: