Farm, hunt, and hump your way into the history books!

Title: Medieval Dynasty
Platform: PC (Reviewed)
Developer: Toplitz Productions, Render Cube
Publisher: Toplitz Productions
Price: PC £23 / $24
Release date: Out now on Early Access via Steam.
TL;DR: Medieval survival town-building role-playing adventure.
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

Ever felt like you’ve had enough of this technological era and wish you could build a time machine and travel back to a much simpler time? Well, unlucky… you can’t – but maybe playing Medieval Dynasty is the closest you can get in the meantime. In Medieval Dynasty you are just a nobody, desperate to escape the poverty and trauma of war and instead seek refuge in a peaceful valley where you can make your own life and fortune, much like the stories of your successful uncle, who made the same choice a while back and is now rich and happy with his own village and farms.

So, after a small introductory cutscene, we’re off on an adventure to a new land and a fresh start. The game opens with us standing next to a road sign and some tutorial pop-ups giving a brief explanation of movement and quest controls, they are simple and informative so are quickly read and closed and we are able to respond to the first quest that advises us to go on ahead to the village and find out about our illustrious uncle.

The world around us is very pretty and a pleasure to explore, thanks to some gorgeous graphics. The game is running very smoothly on my system and seems to be well-optimised for a lag-free performance on fairly high settings. The music is also kind of medieval-sounding I guess, but to be honest I usually turn the music off in these type of games as it begins looping and driving me crazy. However, doing this on my playthrough encountered a weird bug that started giving me sound issues and then stopped the sliders from making any changes. This was luckily patched in a hotfix within hours, so kudos to the devs working hard to resolve issues quickly.

The first quest asks us to go to the nearby village and speak to the local Official to find out where our uncle is located. However, it’s sad news as we find out that our uncle was attacked and killed by bandits whilst on a transport caravan moving his wealth and supplies about. Our uncle was such a gentleman apparently that his renown has instantly gained us a free pass into the hearts of the locals and we are able to just start building our dynasty wherever we please, and the only conditions to be met are that we pay our taxes whenever they are due. Not too bad a deal, so off we go to scout a location to start our dynasty.

As with all survival games we have the usual metres on our HUD (Heads-Up Display) Health, Stamina, Food, and Water. We are given a small amount of starting supplies in the form of 50 coins and some food, and it’s off into the wilderness to look for a nice scenic spot for my first hovel.

To begin crafting anything you need to start off with gathering some raw materials; everything has a chain of events that continuously need to be followed, for example: to make a house you need logs, sticks, and straw. To gather the sticks and straw you don’t need tools – just the whereabouts of their locations. To gather the logs you will need a tool (an axe), and this tool needs to be crafted from sticks and stones. So the priority is to build an axe from loose materials littering the surrounding area, and then cut down some trees and convert them to logs for our cabin build.

To select any crafting recipes, Medieval Dynasty uses a convenient crafting wheel approach that makes the selection of all the craftable items pretty easy. It doesn’t take long to commit to memory the locations of certain items as they are split into sensible sub-menus etc. Selecting an item to craft creates a transparent image of that item in front of you, in either a green or red colour – red indicating it cannot be placed, and green the opposite. Once the template has been placed, you can whip out the wooden building hammer and if you possess the materials you can begin construction. Some smaller crafts require you to already have all the materials before you can craft or place the item.

Accompanying the crafting and survival side of the game are some light questing and RPG/town-building elements, with the early quests introducing you to all the features of the game, and teaching you how to hunt, build, and attract villagers to your fledgeling town and eventually to even flirt enough to convince some poor villager to become your spouse and produce some heirs which lead to the Dynasty part of this game.

Medieval is still in early access, and this shows quite a bit at the moment as there are still a lot of glitches and bugs that are showing up as more people start playing the game and discovering these little problems. Apart from the sound issues I mentioned earlier, the main bug I’ve encountered was on a quest to visit and speak to Sambor the hunter. It didn’t matter how many times I visited him, on different times of the day or night, or in different seasons – he just would not speak to me, and I was, therefore, unable to ever complete that questline.

Gathering certain items for the survival side of the game is another area I had issues, and this one is more of a personal dislike and I can see both sides of any argument related to this preference. To replenish your health, the first item the game introduces you to is Broadleaf Plantain, this small plant is vaguely described to you and you have to search hard to find it in the foliage of the surrounding forests. It is incredibly hard to see as it blends in with all the other plants, and can texture clip with other plants, so it’s only noticeable if your focal point hovers over the plant and its name pops up. It does look like these plants may be highlighted later on in the game when you level up a tech tree, but that’s a long way off it seems.

In comparison, hunting seems the complete opposite. Yes, there are fewer animals in winter, but so far I have an abundance of meat and fur/leather. You can set many traps for rabbits etc, and they are very successful – and don’t worry about getting a bow for hunting as everything can usually be one or two-shot with a spear. I encountered a Bison thinking this thing is going to murder me – but no – one spear to the neck and another to the head and it dropped before it had a chance to even charge. So staying alive is fairly easy with the only encountered problems being Winter and a pack of wolves, as I only had two spears on me at the time.

You are encouraged to start building your village early on with quests telling you to build a farm, build a workshop, a hunting lodge, start flirting to attract a mate and various other tasks. Medieval Dynasty’s weather is seasonal, with each season passing after a few in-game days. Seasons dictate what items can be planted or harvested, and also when your properties are taxed. To make money in the early game I crafted some stone knives to sell to the local villagers so that I could buy seeds and manure, but there was no real need to farm too much as I had so much meat. But, to level up the skills and tech trees you have to keeps building houses and attracting new villagers, then managing them over time until your village becomes more successful.

I barely had time to scrape the surface of Medieval Dynasty, as there is an awful lot in the game at the moment and although I feel it’s not the friendliest of user experiences when you are a noob at the start, the lack of hand-holding actually lends to the immersion and makes the game feel more medieval and challenging. I really enjoyed my time playing, and if the bugs can be remedied quickly then this is a great game to dip into whilst it’s still in early access.

The Good:

  • Lovely graphics and good optimisation.
  • Good crafting systems
  • Immersion heavy gathering system.

The Bad:

  • Lots of bugs in Early Access (although there are regular hotfixes at the moment).
  • Heavy learning curve for new players.
  • Ability to find crafting materials early on is frustrating.

Family Focus

ESRB: N/A. PEGI 7. You will need to kill a lot of animals to progress and survive and they splatter blood everywhere. So not for the squeamish.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by PR for the purpose of this review.