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[Game Review] Manor Lords

Manor Lords is a strategy game that allows you to experience the life of a medieval lord. Grow your starting village into a bustling city, manage resources and production chains and expand your lands through conquest. Inspired by the art and architecture of late 14th century Franconia, Manor Lords prioritises historical accuracy wherever possble, using it to inform gameplay mechanics and visuals alike. Common medieval tropes are avoided in favour of historical accuracy in order to make the world feel more authentic, colourful and believable.

I'm sure you all know just how much I love gaming, and when it combines history too? Oooh boy, I can't get enough. Whilst my main love is horror, I've been known to dabble in sim games and city builders - I've always loved the Age of Empires games for instance. So when I heard about Manor Lords I was immediately interested and kept a very close eye on its development. The game is currently still in early access with development still ongoing but let me tell you...if early access is THIS good, then I cannot wait to see what the full release will be like.

The aim of Manor Lords is to grow your tiny starting settlement into a city. And that takes time. You need to search for resources - trees must be felled and stone must be mined, logs need to be sawn into planks and food must be either hunted or grown. Your settlers need to be able to have houses to live in so they don't starve to death - and once you have built houses, you can start to produce crops or keep chickens. Then as you build more houses, more settlers start to show up and you have to expand your town in order to keep food production going. Also importantly you must produce fuel so houses can be heated and production kept going in the various industrial units that can be built.

Each settler can be assigned a job - they can work in farming or as hunters, as pub landlords or miners. Any that aren't assigned certain jobs will take part in building. As your town grows and you build more, your settlement level increases and you level up from village to town to city. You are also able to upgrade your burghage plots - or houses - once certain thresholds are met. Once upgraded you can start to produce bread or ale, make clothing or shoes or even armour.

Be careful though, because it's very easy to run out of money. Each upgrade costs both coin and resources - coin can be made back up through trade and you are able to (once you have built a trading post) import of export goods. This is very useful if food is starting to become a bit scarce during the winter months, but it is also an excellent way of increasing the wealth of your settlement. Money comes in and you can upgrade or build more, and then you can start establishing trade routes in order to bring more goods in to your town. You are even able to trade in livestock - very useful for bringing in sheep that will then create wool that can be used in the production of linen and clothing.

Your settlement is governed by a lord who, once their manor is built, is able to exact taxes and tithes from the local population. Be aware though - if you overtax your people, they'll start to really dislike you. As the settlement grows the Lord will gain influence which can then be used to settle other areas of the map, which means building another town from scratch.

One of my favourite aspects of Manor Lords is that you are able to do a walkabout with your Lord and check on your settlement. As you wander the streets, the locals hustle and bustle about, chatting amongst themselves and crying out their wares or moaning that they have to carry things on their own. It's beautifully immersive.

You are also able to build a local militia - your population can split into various different units of spearmen, archers and more. And the battles...the battles scare me. So much so the only play I've done so far is to build lots and lots of cities. Yep, I'm a bit of a coward and have my settings so you don't actually need to fight anyone. The next round I start, I'll be adding that in though.

This game is a real breath of fresh air. It is beautiful and immersive with stunning graphics and an absolutely beautiful soundtrack. There were points when I was playing where I'd be too busy listening to the music to notice my people were starving - sorry, folks! This game is a true labour of love and the development team have done their utmost to make it as historically accurate as possible. It's a real breath of fresh air. Though a small can and will lose hours in this game, and you won't even be sorry for it.


I would like to extend a massive thank you to the team at Hooded Horse for the review key.

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