There’s been a rise in survival games but none that have ever really captured medieval life the way that Life is Feudal does, like the title suggests, the game is what you make of it and it’s a very difficult game to pinpoint as it’s focus seems to very a big RP (Role-Play) driven experience with depth if you’re willing to deal with a steep learning curve.
The game isn’t really a game. so much as it is a simulation. I say this as it’s not like anything I’ve ever played, the game isn’t particularly fast paced after a couple of hours I had just about gotten enough materials to get my shack built. My early game consisted of mundane tasks like gathering herbs or chopping wood. This didn’t change much until some fellow peasants banded together to get enough supplies to build a crudely built shanty town, not far outside of the Lord’s castle. In exchange for a cut of all supplies we gathered we were offered protection by the Lord’s guardsmen. This was all done with real people communicating on one of the 64 player servers over a week period. There are alternative roles to being a peasant farmer of course, you can be a carpenter or blacksmith for example. The caveat to this being leveling up these skills aren’t a simple grind of forging the same thing 1000 times a la Skyrim, instead the game created a system that means if you’re going to be a “Master Blacksmith” you’ll need to level up your; prospecting, mining and smelting skills. There’s a degree of monotony but you get a massive sense of satisfaction that few games give you. This is very much a thinking man’s game. Something as simple growing crops requires thought, poor weather conditions can easily ruin a harvest and location is everything to bring out the maximum yield.
Combat was a last resort for me, but when I was forced to pick up arms it felt good enough, it’s very reminiscent of Mount and Blade’s combat system but like jobs it is governed by your skills and their individual levels. Being a militiaman using a pitchfork for example, the skills you’ll want to level while be your spear mastery and maybe your poleaxe mastery which as you unlock levels will unlock new attacks such as the ability to form the “wall of pikes” which is a devastating formation against cavalry. The combat roles can all be countered by alternative roles however. Meaning that while militia my by able to combat cavalry, they can be decimated by archers or the armored footman. Communication naturally is key, going back to my example of militia vs cavalry, while militia have the potentially to decimate cavalry, a group of poorly trained farmer can alternatively destroyed by well organised cavalry charges.
From various screenshots the game has the potential to be beautiful, my computer is slowly aging and is progressively becoming outdated, running the game on my AMD HD6670 was a struggle with serious stuttering and frame rate drops, one of the reasons I avoided combat was simply that the game wasn’t particularly stable enough that I felt comfortable confronting other players. I would absolutely recommend checking the system requirements and forums as this game seems to be rather inconsistent. I’ve seen various reports on the likes of Reddit that suggest there’s wide range of PCs that are having similar issues despite being within the required or even recommended specs to run the game well.
As such the game is not for everyone, it’s a large commitment of time to see results. If you’re not someone who has the patience to build towards something this is probably not the game for you. Annoyingly this is a game that’ll more than 2 hours for you to get into, meaning that you’ll probably not be able to qualify for a Steam refund which is why it’s so difficult to recommend to someone who doesn’t mind doing very mundane tasks and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing a vision realised. There is fun to be had here, it’s whether or not you’re willing to put in the hours and grind out some early game leveling for your skills and maybe gets some friends together to build something cool. Building alone sucks, at least a job shared is a job halved. I’d recommend finding a good RP server, a lot of the community is friendly and are willing to teach new players the ropes which is invaluable in the beginning.
In closing, Life is Feudal is a very interesting concept, it’s not fast paced and requires really commitments of time, talking to people on forums they’ve spent 300+ hours trying to finish their creations which range from giant fortresses to just towns. The game definitely lives up to it’s namesake, in that this is a game that is truly your own.
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