View Full Version : Video Games Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Review

10-25-2012, 12:39 AM
I donít usually have particularly strong feelings about video game companies, but Iíve always kinda liked Stardock. This small, scrappy company has a very gamer-friendly philosophy that includes rejecting DRM and providing free upgrades and add-ons to games ó and most importantly, they have some great strategy games including the Galactic Civilizations games and the Sins of a Solar Empire series. In fact, for my money, putting the Stardock logo on a strategy game is a pretty sure-fire indication that it will be a well-made, enjoyable game.

Then, Elemental: War of Magic happened. The premise was awesome ó a turn-based 4X strategy game, similar to Civilization or Master of Orion, but set in a fantasy world with magic and strange creatures. Despite its promising concept, Elemental: War of Magic failed hard. The game was buggy and prone to crashes, glitches, and interface problems. Nearly universally, Elemental: War of Magic was panned by reviewers. Stardock was left reeling, forced to lay off staff and suffer a significant blow to their reputation. The developers acknowledged their errors and seemed to take the failure personally.


Elemental: Fallen Enchantress aims to vindicate Stardock ó and does a pretty fine job of it. The game is great fun for anyone who is a fan of either turn-based 4X strategy games or for fans of the type of fantasy world that are typically solely the realm of role-playing games. Gameplay is intuitive, adaptive, highly customizable and most importantly ó fun.

To begin the game, you first select a faction and a faction leader. There are eight different factions to choose from ó each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and specializations ó to provide plenty of variety in strategies and gameplay. Some factions are better suited toward using magic, others are better at diplomacy or economics, others are better for brute-force combat. These eight factions would be more than sufficient for most fans of the genre, but one hallmark of Stardock games is that they have a high degree of customizability. In this case, you can create your own faction and your own leader, customize their strengths, weaknesses, appearance, equipment, etc. This process looks and feels like character creation in a typical RPG, and intentionally so.

Once youíve created your kingdom and sovereign, the game begins to look a lot more familiar as a Civilization-style turn-based game. You must create settlements in order to produce research, resources, money, influence and population, while the land around you is dotted with dangers ranging from roving packs of wolves to darkling armies and towering dragons. To survive in this world, you must raise armies and recruit heroes and champions, which can also be found throughout the world. These heroes, like yourself, are unique individuals who gain experience, can equip unique items, and can level up to become more powerful.


Thereís not much to say about the gameplay itself ó if youíve played Civilization, Alpha Centauri, Master of Orion, Galactic Civilizations, or any number of other similar turn-based strategy games, then Elemental: Fallen Enchantress will be familiar to you as far as objectives and mechanics go. One difference that you will likely discover early on, however, is that unlike these other similar games, the world around you is a much bigger threat than your AI opponents, particularly in the beginning. Unlike the barbarians from the Civilization games, the monsters, bandits, and assorted other roaming baddies can be quite dangerous. Keeping your cities and armies safe from these creatures will be your main priority in early stages of the game. The good news is that defeating enemies and clearing lairs results in loot ó special items that your characters can use in battles, or sell. As you proceed through the game, your sovereign will collect more weapons and armor that will actually change the way he or she looks and fights in the game. You will also come across quests, in which your character can perform certain missions or tasks in exchange for a reward, usually a special item of some type.

The fighting mechanics are simple but satisfying. You can choose to auto-resolve battles (similar to the way battles are handled in most Civ games) or you can take limited control and fight a D&D-style battle wherein all the dice rolls are done behind the scenes. The battles are very similar to the way battles are handled in Sid Meierís Pirates! where characters move along a tile grid and engage in either ranged or melee combat, depending on their specialty. As usual, you can unlock new units as you research technologies, but Stardock once again stands out with their customization features. You can create your own units ó with their own unique appearances, abilities, and fighting styles. As in Galactic Civilizations 2, itís extremely rewarding to create your own units and watch them prevail in battle.

There is a ďdownsideĒ to all this customization, however. While you set about to create new fighters capable of exploiting weaknesses in your enemies, the next time you play Fallen Enchantress the AI can and will use your creations against you. The AI is adaptable and reacts to your style of play in addition to making use of any adjustments you make. This, in addition to the customization and the randomized maps, quests, and creatures, makes this game almost infinitely replayable.

In a sense, Fallen Enchantress is an effort at redemption for Stardock. I believe itís been a success. The game does not appear to be plagued by the sorts of crashes, glitches, and gameplay issues that made the first Elemental game such a Waterloo for the Stardock development team. In fact, Stardock has turned that disaster to their advantage; original purchasers of the Elemental: War of Magic game in 2010 will receive Elemental: Fallen Enchantress at no additional charge (itís retailing for $39.99), as a way of making amends. Considering how many game developers put out crappy games and donít give it another thought while they roll around naked on their piles of money (EA, Iím looking at you), Iíd say Stardock is not only respecting gamers by putting out quality games, but also by taking responsibility when things donít go well.


The takeaway? If you like strategy games, youíll like Fallen Enchantress. If you like RPG games and fantasy settings, youíll like Fallen Enchantress. If you like the kind of game where you say to yourself, ďIíll just play this for fifteen minutes or so,Ē and then all of a sudden itís 4:00 in the morning, then you can add Fallen Enchantress to the list of games that seem to warp time. And if you like games that are designed by people who care about giving gamers a great experience, then you should pick up Elemental: Fallen Enchantress and then work your way through the rest of the Stardock catalog.

Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is exclusive to the PC, and is available on Steam and other online retailers. Elemental: Fallen Enchantress was provided for review by Stardock Entertainment.

8.7 Very Good

HAHA been waiting for this for a while now, Elemental was supposed to be the spiritual successor to Masters of Magic the early 90's strategy blockbuster. Mom was bigger than Civilization when it first came out and i've been waiting a LONG time for this game. I will play it tomorrow and let you guys know my first impressions.....Giddy I am...haven't played a great turn based strategy game in a long time...Civ 4,5 don't count either.

keg in kc
10-25-2012, 12:57 AM
I used to play the hell out of galciv2.

10-25-2012, 12:05 PM
Only played it about an hour so far, but this is what Elemental should have been. The level of detail is incredible, the game has what Elemental was missing and that is fun factor, that one more turn feeling is definitely there. The polish is excellent, keep in mind i'm only an hour into it but thus far I love it. Anyone remember masters of magic? Probably the best turn based strategy game ever, and so far this feels like the spiritual successor.

10-25-2012, 12:06 PM
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Mr. Laz
10-26-2012, 10:40 AM
looks like a Civ 2 mod

10-26-2012, 10:53 AM
looks like a Civ 2 mod

This has 10 times more to it than Civilization.

10-26-2012, 11:26 AM
Wow this game just gets more in depth and better. I've had a hero die in battle 3 times and everytime that hero gains a negative trait....

1st death Pneumonia = -50% res to cold
2nd death = missing ear -10% to dodge
3rd death = cracked skull -10 experience

It's a wonder he's still alive....lolz

10-27-2012, 11:07 PM
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Hard to quit playing this game...very addicting...

My best hero is now lvl 79 and a total badass. You receive a list of perks/spells/skills to pick from with every level up as well as more HP/MP/etc. You research new spells and items as well to equip on your hero. It has very strong RPG aspects as well. Great game and everyone who is a fan of Strategy/RPG should check this game out.