There is an understatement fans used to describe the colony’s management games: crisp. Not like a sweet bed of autumn leaves. Crunchy like a mouth of rocks. It always sounds so rewarding — to build, care for, and organize a society so well that it runs by itself — until you’re entangled in a biofuel refining game system while your health is lost by the ear. (Hello, RimWorld.)
Released for the first time on June 1, Going Medieval it’s a colony sim for people who have always thought they might like it, but who feel intimidated by its bottomless depth. It’s the first title from Foxy Voxel, an independent gaming studio, and it’s available for PC on Steam and u Epic Games Store.
The game resurfaced in 14th-century England after a plague devastated 95 per cent of the population. Survivors must build a new civilization on their own, in nature. Players install three columns with randomly generated stats with some basic supplies: wood, linen, a short bow, and so on. The game is to keep them alive and, ideally, thrive. First, under hay beds and thatched roofs. Then, while collecting more wood or iron, in cabins and castles. Expand the colony from a primitive hunting society to an agricultural center, and perhaps a large city.
It takes grain and planning, of course. The player assigns jobs to the colonists and plans their days so that they get enough sleep and pleasure to stay healthy and happy. Once an establishment’s production engines are installed, Going Medieval it becomes a machine of satisfaction. One colonist stops the cabbage while the other drags it into the warehouse; a third makes it cook in a hot dish while a well-fed fourth goes to cut down the trees. You can sit back and watch your columns succeed, changing a couple of switches every few minutes. The numbers are growing. Over time, they will unlock new systems – tailoring, food preservation, smith-smithing, and so on – that all require new resources and workflows.
Small or large disasters break gratifying flow states. Early in my game, I neglected to pick enough berries to feed the peasants before their first enemy raid. And when the invaders were only a couple of days away, they didn’t have enough chopped wood to fortify the establishment. I made a dent while my countrymen ran little sleep and in the end did not even eat to build a middle wooden merlon to protect the camp. After a short scuffle, my best type books were killed, undermining the colony’s ability to research new technologies.
Going Medieval can inspire low-level anxiety that is not even unpleasant. The failure is felt only briefly. It is soon replaced by strategy, then by optimism. There are definitive solutions to definitive problems. As you progress through the game, waves of new systems wash over you (as opposed to crashing). The combination of psychic micromanagement and macromanagement society is immediately fascinating.
A small but significant blessing in Going Medieval it’s their intuitive menus. There is no digging into boards to find a specific static or resource, without UX disasters breaking the immersion. The game doesn’t punish you harshly for the lack of an important menu (or system) before, which allows you to incrementally appreciate the new game cycles. The only frustration comes from Going Medievalverticality – players can build. It’s harder than it needs to be to switch a bird’s eye view between resources in a store and the roof of the warehouse.
Going Medieval it’s not exactly basic; it’s just a little more relaxed than that RimWorld and other games of its kind. In the end, the game will have some “crunchier” systems as the developers materialize: settlement diplomacy, snowballing, animal husbandry. Right now, in its early stages, it’s a refreshing and easy-to-enrich sim that surpasses Steam graphics for good reason.
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