Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: June 28, 2021
Colony Sims are interesting in that they tend to straddle the line between RTS, puzzle game, and The Sims. I’ve been playing Colony games since SimAnt — which might be the first (ant) Colony Sim — and I’ve always appreciated that you can enjoy them from a few different angles. Sometimes it’s fun to maximize production, growing your colony ruthlessly and efficiently, but other times it’s nice to zoom in on your creation and just watch the little people (or ants) do their thing.
There has been a trend in recent years for some Colony Sims to lean into mechanics and difficulty, to the detriment of what I like to think of as the ant-colony effect: how satisfying a game is to look at. So I was pleasantly surprised when I set my settlers to building a rudimentary shelter in Going Medieval, and their frenetic hammering materialized wooden walls in a way that was straight up fun to watch. It’s a subtle thing, good building animations, and developer Foxy Voxel has nailed it in their Black Death era Colony Builder.
The magic lies in the bare-minimum models used for pretty much everything in Going Medieval. Villagers don’t really have faces, but instead of being creepy like you’d think, it works. Trees, grass, stacks of linen, they all have just enough detail for you to easily determine what each object is, and no more. When combined with the aesthetically pleasing building animations, the result is a game that you can simply sit back and watch when the mood strikes you.
Which is a good thing, because once you’ve gotten the preliminary work of setting up your settlement out of the way, you’ll be doing a lot of watching. Going Medieval is still very much in early access, and while the foundations of an excellent game are in place, there isn’t much to do once you’ve spent a couple hours getting things set up. You can always build more/bigger buildings, but keeping your settlers warm, safe, and fed isn’t very challenging once you’ve learned how to do it.
If all you want is Medieval Legos, then what’s here is already more than worth the cost of admission. Players who have dumped hundreds of hours into similar titles will likely find plenty to do here, as many of the key systems are already in place. Building a castle in Going Medieval is time consuming and satisfying, and could easily occupy you for hours on end.
However, if you’re more like me, where you spend a bleary-eyed weekend doing nothing but playing a Colony Sim game — and then don’t pick it up again for a year — you may want to wait for future updates. The current Roadmap includes a huge list of upcoming features, including raiding other settlements, map factions, a prisoner system, and “grand objectives”. If you play it and drop it now, it looks like you’ll miss out on a whole host of cool new features that are yet to be implemented.