Conquest of Elysium 3 is a game from Illwinter Game Design, a small Swedish developer. It’s a turn-based strategy game in a fantasy setting, where myriad factions, races, and nations battle across the ages for the continent of Elysium.
You explore the randomly generated map, annexing farms, towns, mines, and other valuable locations, increasing the flow of resources each turn to expand your armies while battling hostile independent hostile forces, which may be guarding valuable locations or wandering freely. Eventually, your expansion will bring you into contact with other factions, and then the struggle for supremacy is on. There are two universal resources, gold and iron. Many factions also have additional resources that power their special abilities, from gems to herbs to human sacrifices.
The different factions are where things get interesting. There are 18 in all, varying in their abilities, recruitable units, and other factors. The Baron is mostly limited to conventional troops, but gains an influx of extra conscripts each year and can raise local defensive levees at no cost. The Priest-King has inferior troops but can perform human sacrifices to summon powerful allies or sacrifice entire towns to gain special bonuses from his bloodthirsty gods. The Necromancer can raise up undead allies where corpses are available, at growing cost to his own sanity. The Enchanter builds huge magical constructs that are costly to create and unable to heal between battles but enormously powerful.
These are just a few examples. They’re very diverse, and different enough to make playing them distinct experiences.
Battles involve a lot of factors- different damage types, morale, weapons, defenses, magic, and other benefits and limitations depending on the unit. Troops are enormously varied, ranging from conventional troops (spearman, archers, knights, halberdiers, pikemen, many others) to faction-specifc variants to giant monsters, demons, undead, magical constructs, wild animals, and more. Your control is purely on the strategic level- once armies meet, you watch the battle play out automatically. In this case, that seems like a good choice. It keeps the game moving quickly, and tactical control probably wouldn’t add much- battles have far more to do with the number and type of troops you bring than with sudden turns of fortune.
I liked Conquest of Elysium 3 a lot. The gameplay is deep and complex without being overwhelming- though you’ll definitely want to check the online manual- and extremely addictive. The amazing diversity of playable factions adds tremendously to the game in terms of replay value, freedom, and the sheer number of different scenarios and strategies that become possible. There’s an exciting sense of discovery as you uncover more and more of the map, and the huge number of possible units makes building your army and planning for battle a lot of fun.
It’s basically a straight port from the PC version, aside from the change to touchscreen-based controls and lack of online multiplayer. (Multiplayer on a single device is an option.) The developers recommend playing on a screen of at least 7 inches and I’d definitely agree. There’s way too much clickable stuff in close proximity for the game’s controls to work with any precision on a phone-sized screen.
Production values are rudimentary, with very simple graphics and almost no animations to speak of. For the most part that’s fine, though in some cases it’s difficult to tell certain unit types apart without clicking on them. Sound effects are similarly minimal, though there is some nice music.
Each game is highly customizable. You set the number of competing factions, from two to eight. Each AI player’s difficulty can be set seperately, and their faction can be chosen manually or left random .You also choose from six different eras of Elysium’s history, which differ in the kind of resources available and which independnet forces you’re most likely to run into, and four four map sizes.
The price, $9.90, may be a sticking point for some. Whether that’s too much for a mobile game will vary for each individual. However, if people want more “hardcore” games for mobile devices, releases that are comparable to games on more conventional platforms, they should expect to pay a little more than they would for a disposable time-waster. If you like strategy games and want the sort of depth usually only found in PC games in mobile format, I’d strongly recommend Conquest of Elysium 3. It’s not impressive to look at and there’s a bit of a learning curve, but it offers one of the best Android strategy experiences to date.
But is it Hardcore?
A deep, addictive game with with uncommon depth for mobile devices.