I am going to reveal a secret about myself: I am not young. I can say the first time I played a game of any kind on a PC was probably 1992. The graphic style in those ancient times was different than the games that are out now. The characters were static images that had one animation frame for when they took action. Conquest of Elysium 3, while running at a higher resolution, looks and plays like it could have come straight from 1992, complete with a 61 page PDF game manual, as large computer game manuals were the height of fashion at the time. CoE3 is a turn based strategy game set in a fantasy world which I can only assume is called Elysium. It can be played as a single player experience or multiplayer, both network and local are supported. The goal of the game is, as the title implies, to conquer Elysium. This is done by killing all other commanders or making all their base are belong to you. Whoever is the lone survivor wins the game. There is no shortage of character classes to pick from, each one with its own special abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. There are 18 in total to pick from, so I am going only to discuss a couple of them. The Priest King can gather slaves to fight in your army, and gain blessings by making sacrifices to the God of this world. As the Priest King I took over a town and used my powers to sacrifice the entire town. I received no bonus because the God did not take notice, which I was disheartened by. I mean, I didn’t offer up a piddly little trinket, I laid waste to an entire town, and received no recognition at all. I did this to a few more towns and none of the times did I get any notice. At this point my character renounced his faith, at least I say he did. The game made no such declaration, but the Priest King turned to Atheist King in my eyes. The slaves I gathered, which I could gather an infinite amount depending on how patient I was, were definitely quantity over quality being nothing more than cannon fodder. Seriously, they were useless against anything but the weakest opponents. I went into battle with 108 of them and they were all dead in four turns.
The Troll King is another available character class to play as, which I had to play because how often do you get to be a troll in a game? The Troll King is a tank. I could take on hordes of enemies and single handedly flatten them with his strength, high hit points, and regeneration. Trolls can collect fungus as a resource on the map, which is not of great value to the human classes I played but this is a valuable resource to the Troll King, as it allows you make forests generate minions and it is a consumable resource to use magic skills such as summoning a dragon. During my time as the Troll King a message popped up saying my mom didn’t think I was doing a good job in battle, and Mama Troll came to join in my campaign of destruction. She was surprisingly useful, so next time your mom has suggestions on how to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women, you listen to her. Incidentally, happy Mother’s Day. This game does require patience to play. The interface is not the most intuitive, there is no tutorial, but the key input guide starts on page 7 of the manual. I did not read every single page, but I did have to skim through it to figure out a few things. I played this game on Windows 7, and when I opened the manual the game would crash. I had to restart the computer in order to boot up the game because I would get an error message saying the game is already running despite having CTRL ALT Deleted it. This happened every time I wanted to peruse the manual. My initial impression of the game was actually very negative. In fact, if I did not care about giving it a fair review, I would have shut it off after a few minutes and never returned to it. After spending some time reading through the manual I gave the game a few more tries, and despite initially hating it I did grow to somewhat like it, however I spent more time doing this than I would if it was a game I was only playing for enjoyment, which to me is the biggest flaw.
Combat is completely automated, and that can be frustrating while you watch your unit’s AI do the same ineffective attack for 5 turns in a row while the enemy whittles down your ranks. You do have only minor control over your commanders, for example you can memorize certain spells and they would use those in battle, but you still have no say over if or when they will be cast thus making combat a strategy free zone and this hurts the game. The game play is pretty simple, you move from square to square initiating fights to watch if you desire. Going into battle really does nothing to benefit you unless an enemy unit is occupying a village or they have a red square around them indicating they are a rival warlord. By moving over certain spaces like farms, mines, and villages you capture the land and that increases the amount of resources you earn that turn, which you can use to recruit more units. I want to like this game more than I do, there is a lot of character variety and random events that happen in the world map, such as a gate to Hell randomly opening up and closing it becoming an optional objective. The music is very well done and fits the fantasy setting perfectly, and while I enjoy the early 90’s graphic aesthetic, the game also feels dated from that time period in the negative ways as well. Moving the units three squares at time every turn became tedious quickly, as did the automated combat. There is no story telling in the game, and the story is just a few sentences in the manual. When I was successful in conquering Elysium, the ending was just a text window saying I was the winner. If you are a die hard fan of turn based strategy games, especially old school ones, you will likely enjoy this game and it would be worth checking out. However, I do not see this game succeeding at converting new fans to the genre or having much appeal to casual fans. I practically had to force myself to enjoy this game, and while it does have some good ideas and offers a large variety of character class options, its tedious game play and non user friendly interface prevent it from being something truly great.