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Songs of Conquest

Songs of Conquest

Lavapotion's turn-based strategy game is leaving Early Access, but is it worth your time now it's in its 1.0 state?

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There's one big benefit to years like 2024 where the big names and players have a more sparse and infrequent release schedule, and that is it opens the door to committing your time to indie games that you may otherwise gloss over or lack the time to experience. This is precisely the case I have encountered with Lavapotion's Songs of Conquest, as May has allowed me to once again dive into the refreshing indie waters to experience gems I often wouldn't have the time and space for.

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This game is a bit of everything. On one hand, Songs of Conquest is an RPG that is all about exploring a level, completing quests, battling enemies, earning experience and improving your character. On another it's a turn-based strategy adventure, with your exploration efforts broken up by an actual turn-based system and a combat suite that is about guiding units and troops across a 3D hexagonal board to crush opposing units on a turn-by-turn basis. But then at the same time as all of this, there's kingdom management elements, unique and intertwining storylines, multiplayer systems, and community-centric features that should ensure this game lives on long after Lavapotion moves onto greener pastures.

Songs of Conquest's campaign mode, thanks to years of Early Access development, is now quite a considerable effort. There are four stories to choose from, each of which revolve around a different main hero with a unique narrative they follow. There's a more traditional tale of knights and those of pure heart protecting the weak, further inspiring tales about swamp dwellers rising to lead a troupe of freed slaves to safety, another about returning a faction to its powerful days of yore, and so forth. Each of these unique tales are split into four acts, and while each are separate stories (or songs as they are regarded in-game), they do have certain crossover elements, such as recurring characters, locations, unit types, and likewise.

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These stories are all supported in a very thematic sense with plenty of deep narrative, dialogue, and even story book-like cutscene elements. Lavapotion has done a great job at creating a rich and broad campaign experience that will entertain for hours, but it isn't all sunshine and rainbows, and there are a few hiccups along the way.

Songs of Conquest
Songs of ConquestSongs of Conquest

I for one struggle to appreciate the turn-based elements in the exploration. There are key points where it makes sense, but the majority of time you simply move a set number of spaces and then pass onto the next turn without a reason to actually question why you're making said move. It's turn-based movement without repercussion for the most part, and outside of combat, I don't quite feel it is incorporated right. Add to this the limited progression per campaign act. Each activity, battle, location you explore, etc. grants your main hero (the wielder) experience. However, to ensure you don't milk one act, Lavapotion has put a level cap on each act, meaning after a little bit of exploration there's nothing more you can really do to improve your character. This wouldn't be an issue if you didn't come across a boss at the end of each act that absolutely slaughters you with far superior units despite your preparation, a defeat that means you have to start each act from scratch. There's a clear disparity with the difficulty and how it jumps from barely a challenge to a kick square in the teeth, regardless of your chosen difficulty choice too, which is a bit frustrating in practice.

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That being said, Lavapotion has delivered a rather competent and broad combat system, one that will even interest those of you who don't usually tend toward strategy games. You use a variety of units to support each other and attack opposing enemies on a hexagonal board filled with obstructions and other nuisances. You have abilities to fiddle with and use and unit placement to contend with at the beginning, and since there are never usually too many units to have to manage, the combat flows at a great pace and encounters are usually wrapped up quite quickly. For those of you who don't get on with turn-based strategy, there is also an auto-battler system, but this is, from my experience, less successful than actually conducting and leading the battles yourself. I do think Songs of Conquest could benefit from slightly deeper tutorials, but if you have a basic knowledge of strategy games, you should be more than fine with picking up and playing this game as it's generally quite straightforward.

Songs of Conquest

Aside from Songs of Conquest having a plentiful selection of units, loot to hunt for and acquire, characters from a variety of races, a fantastic soundtrack that perfectly fits the theme and tone of the game, and detailed and striking pixel visuals that further fit the bill, Lavapotion has also made sure that the community that helped refine this game through Early Access is accommodated even further. There is a Map Editor feature that allows anyone to create their own songs and experiences, and then a place to find songs built by community members to continue your Songs of Conquest journey well after the campaign credits roll. For those who like to face other players on the battlefield, a conquest (skirmish) mode also exists. I would suggest that anyone looking to delve into this to first complete the campaign though, as you'll need a broad and deep understanding of the game and the various units to thrive here.

I'd also like to take a moment to highlight the performance of Songs of Conquest. The years of Early Access have clearly had an effect on how polished this game is, because in my time testing it for this review, I've had zero issues and noticed absolutely nothing that would affect and break immersion. This is a fantastically polished indie title, and Lavapotion should be incredibly proud of that.

Songs of ConquestSongs of Conquest

All things considered, for those looking for a strategy game to plug away at for the rest of May, Songs of Conquest may just be the ticket. It's crammed with content, has a polished sheen that many other games fail to achieve, is easy to pick up and play, and has systems that make even its more complex elements approachable or surmountable. It isn't perfect and has a few hiccups, but for the most part, this is a pretty fantastic turn-based title from Lavapotion.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Packed with content. Great community features. Polished. Striking presentation. Awesome soundtrack.
-
Some progression elements miss the mark. Feels a bit overbaked with the turn-based theme.
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Songs of Conquest

REVIEW. Written by Ben Lyons

Lavapotion's turn-based strategy game is leaving Early Access, but is it worth your time now it's in its 1.0 state?



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