I’ve been playing this kinda neat RPG/Strategy game called Mount & Blade. Really, I haven’t put a lot of time into it (just a few hours) and I wouldn’t normally be “reviewing” a game so early on, but this one is on sale on Steam this weekend for just $7.50 US (75% off).
I’ve heard the game described as “Pirates! on land” and that’s a fair description. You start as a lone wanderer with some basic armor and weapons, and what you do from there pretty much is up to you. You can be a trader, or a mercenary, or a bandit. You travel an extensive and dynamic world, going from tiny villages to cities and castles, talking to Lords and tavern keepers (and the conversations are very well written, I might add), finding jobs, hearing rumors and recruiting mercenaries to fight beside you.
It definitely has that “indy” game tang to it. The landscapes are pretty good looking, but the character models are a bit rough and in places the interface gets a little clunky. At the same time, the world is sprawling and complex, and as you ride back and forth across it you’ll see other parties going about their own business, including looting villages (the bad guys) or riding down bandits (the good guys). It’s “alive” enough that Angela looked over and asked if those were other players, but no, this is a single player game. I can’t imagine an “AAA” publisher producing something as complex as this game; it will take you a while to get the hang of things.
When battle is joined, you can sit back and order your troops around, or charge in. Thus far, I haven’t tried the former because the latter is pretty awesome. I’ve never seen mounted combat done this well. Your horse handles..well, like a horse. It doesn’t stop on a dime and it can’t do a 180 degree turn at full speed. Riding at full gallop, leaning down to swing a sword at an on-foot bandit…it feels “right” (even if it looks a little wonky). Shooting a bow or crossbow while at speed is a real skill, both for you and your character. Very tough. And the one time I encountered enemies on horseback, after I sent one to his grave, his horse continued to roam around the battlefield in a panic.
As I said, I’ve just barely scratched the surface of the game, but I thought it was worth the risk to spread the word this weekend while it’s only $7.50. I’ve already got my money’s worth out of it (and there is a demo available). Apparently there’s a pretty healthy modding community for the game, too, though I haven’t dug into that yet.