Developed and published by the French indie studio Tower Five, Lornsword Winter Chronicle is so far one of the biggest surprises I’ve played this year! Playing as Corun Lan Ka, an honored Lornknight and captain of the Empire, you are going to live the winter chronicles through his eyes, following his ascension through the army ranks in times of war in a game that mix action with real-time strategy like never before.
In a story told in chapters, you will fight hordes of enemies while managing your resources and training units to surmount enemy nations and rebels who conspire against the Emperor. Gather gold and food, build your defenses, summon elemental allies and lead your troops in a campaign against that will bring peace to this land. But be careful with whom you trust: your commanders and nobles from the empire may have different plans for this war. Get into the battlefield and lead your army to victory!
What do you do? In Lornsword Winter Chronicle, you manage your garrisons, resources and army, training and upgrading units and defenses and lead them into battle against enemy troops, wildlife and fantastic creatures to defend your people and eliminate the enemies of the Empire. Do you remember how playing Warcraft 3 was back in the day? That’s the playing the original
What we liked!
- Great story: The game plot is something we usually don’t discuss in LifeisXbox reviews. It’s uncommon to see mentions about the story, the protagonist’s motivations and reasons why she is delving in an ancient tom. And Lornsword Winter Chronicle is one of these few cases. The story, at first, looks shallow, but don’t you dare turn your console off: the characters (both Captain Corun Lan Ka and the NPCs) building and the unfolding of the story will take you to directions you didn’t see it coming (well, some of them you will see – but let’s just ignore them). Your concepts of loyalty and right or wrong will be put at test here through inspiring dialogs in-game and in scenes beautiful one mission and another. The world of the game, the oath of the Lornsword that guides our character, Lan Ka’s faithfulness to the Emperor and to his own family and people are worthy an inspiring movie like Brave Heart (one of my ever-favorites) or another similar epic tale!
- Charming visuals: Part of the appeal of the story of the game is due to the unique art style used in its animations between one mission and the portraits of characters: they resemble stained-glass windows (like those ones in churches windows). Something lovely to admire.
- Audio: The audio of the game is great thanks to the epic songs that accompany you in your journey and the outstanding dubbing performance that gave more life and emotion to the game. I just regret that only scenes outside of the game are dubbed while in-game interactions between your character and NPCs, very important to the development of the narrative, are silent.
- Gameplay: At first glance, you may think that combining RTS with action in a single game may have created a Frankenstein. Well, my friend, I’m sorry to disappoint you but they succeeded in creating an interesting and easy to manage system that involves building your structures and managing your troops by pressing only one button. This way you can concentrate on slicing-and-dicing your foes instead of memorizing construction trees and other schematics so common to the RTS genre. And now we mentioned managing the troops…
- Army management: Old gamers will enjoy this because managing your army feels like playing classics like Warcraft and Command & Conquer where you build barracks to train your troops and units and, with them, fight your enemies. Like in those classics, these barracks can be upgraded, generating stronger units that can overcome most of the obstacles your opponents throw at you. Your troops are composed of swordfighters, archers and flying magical soldiers that will be constantly trained at your barracks. You can command them to stay garrisoned, defending your camp, leave them stationed until 5 troops are trained and automatically march towards the enemy or make them march against the enemy as soon as they are trained, giving your foes no time to breathe. At any time, you can gather your troops and lead them into battle yourself. And if things get out of control, you can summon elemental creatures that can turn the tides of battle in your favor.
- Did you say multiplayer? That’s good because another good surprise from the game is the possibility to play the Winter Chronicle in 2 players local co-op in a drop-in and out system (a second player can join or leave the game at any given moment). It’s worth mentioning though that it only becomes available later in the game.
- In-game visuals: The in-game visuals are good, with detailed environments and constructions. The animations and special effects are simple but pleasant. And why I put the visuals here in the Somewhere between section? Because in the first missions it’s almost impossible to distinguish your troops from the enemy troops. There’s a reason for that similarity in the plot of the game, but as it happens when you’re still learning the ropes of the gameplay, things become unnecessarily complicated in your first hours.
- Slicing… but not that much: When taking Captain Lan Ka to combat, you will fight your enemies with elemental magic and your trustworthy ally, your sword. The problem with it is that you don’t feel like hitting your enemies as you swing your blade through their bodies like there’s no collision detection at all.
What we disliked
- Not-so-varied missions: Missions are challenging and fun, but nevertheless repetitive. They include destroying enemy bases, decimating their population, surviving waves of enemies and defending allies. Although the game tries to alternate between these, you will soon realize they aren’t very different from each other.
- Run, run, run: Running around the map is unnerving. This is one of the game mechanics I didn’t enjoy at all because, as running drains your stamina/mana wherever you are doing it, you must always pay attention not to empty your reserves and end up in need to rush back to your base to reserves while in the heat of the battle.
- Snipers? Who needs them when you’ve got homing arrows!? I wish it was a joke, but, unfortunately, it isn’t. I don’t know if it was purposeful, but arrows and spears thrown against you behave like they have some sort of homing device built-in. Besides making it almost impossible to avoid them, it totally breaks the immersion of the combat.
A pleasant surprise! That’s how I will describe this title from the studio Tower Five. I love it when I take in my hands a game I haven’t heard about and discover a hidden gem, still unexplored and out of the radar from most of the players. And this is exactly the case of Lornsword Winter Chronicle. A gem that combines art and audio of first quality with gameplay that mixes two styles completely different that worked so well altogether, creating something very special and unique. It still could use some more polishing in a few aspects, that’s true, but in a time where we-re eager for something new, the project from this French studio will surely please you
Written by Rafael
Xbox writer for LifeisXbox
Between an Excel spreadsheet and trying to conquer the world (one game at a time), he’s ready to share his experiences about every title he plays. Be it to praise a game or to bash it, you will always find an honest opinion in his texts.