‘Conquest of Elysium 3′ Review – A Turn For The Worst

Conquest Of Elysium 3
Conquest Of Elysium 3

Man, writing a harsh review really bums me out ya know? Especially when the game in question happens to be a Heroes of Might and Magic-esque turn based strategy sim. I really love ‘em, but almost no one bloody makes them anymore! I should be treasuring each and every one of them dammit! But that aside, to make a game of any genre the developers have to work their asses off at great personal expense for extended periods of time, so it’s never much fun trying to tell the general public that all that effort was in vein.

What a monumental amount of effort it must have been to make Conquest of Elysium 3! Some dudes out there obviously spent a lot of time coming up with with its elaborate fantasy world, complete with cool unique mechanics and resources for each playable race that all ties into some grand mythos that’s hidden away somewhere inside all the swads of statistics and class descriptions. Now, if only they’d focused a little more on designing the “game” part in all this, then we might actually have something real special on our hands here. As it stands, I’m sad to say that Conquest of Elysium 3* is a godawful mess.

*Let’s just call it CoE3 from now on, ok guys? My sentences are wordy enough as it is.

For one thing, the presentation is downright dire beyond belief. I realise this game probably didn’t have a six figure budget (if any at all), but that’s no excuse for it to be chock filled with all these ugly unwieldy menus and simplistic sprites. That’s only when the screen isn’t busy being almost entirely blank anyway! Funnily enough, the game’s music is actually pretty great in comparison to the point where I began to wonder if it was all just taken from some royalty-free audio collection. The sound effects on the other hand have more in common with the game as a whole; that is to say, they’re crude and somewhat irritating.

That’s enough about how awful it makes my eyes and ears feel, what is it like to actually play? Well, upon attempting to create your first empire in CoE3 you’ll quickly discover two rather pressing issues: 1) Building new units for your army costs a fairly significant amount of resources (e.g. 50 gold) and 2) In most cases you start out with diddly frickin’ squat of resource gain per turn (e.g. +1 gold). So, you can either mash the “next turn” button until your resource counter reaches a useful value or try and use what little forces you start off the game with to claim some resource rich locations. Although the latter option is ever so slightly less boring than the former, it’s also a tad risky given that enemies have to do little more than gaze in the general direction of your now unguarded HQ in order to knock you out of the game.

So, did you manage to claim a farm or something without your only units being obliterated? Yes? Congratulations! Now you’ve got to use what’s left of your measly forces to defend that land from unrelenting armies of bandits, monsters or – more often than not – mundane indigenous wildlife. Should a wandering herd of deer take residence in one of your provinces, armed conflict is of course the only rational solution. People’s lives are at stake after all!

Strangely, the AI seems to be completely above such worldly worries. While I’m busy twiddling my thumbs until I have enough resources to actually do something, they’re casually sauntering around the world map without a care in the world. Perhaps they know something about the game that I don’t? That wouldn’t surprise me actually; only an artificial intelligence would have the inhuman patience to decider the 30,000+ word arcane tome that is CoE3’s instruction manual. I should make it clear, I’m not complaining that the game is too complicated or anything; I love complicated! It’s more that it’s just so…awkward.

The battle system is by far the worst offender; in one way or another the developers have somehow managed to cram in just about every RPG element I can think of: equipment, spells, resistances, immunities, formations, summoning, crafting etc. But those are all good, tried and tested mechanics of course, so what’s the problem? Well, when push comes to shove, the gloves come off, your troops are under fire and a violent response is just simply the only option…it turns out you’ve got no control over any of it! Engage another force in battle and the game will simply decide a bunch of totally randomised moves for your troops to make and then provide you with a gigantic turn-by-turn log of how the battle played out.

The amount of data the game bombards you with during these segments is just so overwhelming that it’s rather difficult to discern anything even remotely useful from it. In particular, it makes it bloody impossible to tell whether or not any given fight will be total suicide mission or not. Will my 10 Crossbowmen be able to defeat a force of 5 Archers, 2 Snakes and one awfully confused Moose? Who knows?! Even if you were somehow able to contemplate the dozen or so variables that governs a unit’s combat prowess, you’d still have to factor in the fact that every single move your units make is completely randomized!

In the end, the whole game ends up feeling like a total crapshoot rather than the tactical nirvana players are likely to be looking for. It’s a sad outcome for sure, as beneath all this junk there’s a ton of really cool ideas just begging me to stop writing all these nasty words. However, a quality computer game isn’t merely a heap of cool ideas, that’s just ambition. In the end, it’s the actual execution of those ideas that really matters and that’s something that CoE3 fails at miserably.

At a stretch, I guess the hardest of the hardcore strategy fans might be able to some semblance of entertainment in this almost impenetrable mess of poor design decisions if they tried really hard. Even if you did somehow fall into that extremely specific niche, you’d have to be certifiably insane to shell out CoE3’s asking price: a full £20! Given the overall quality of this title, such a fee is quite frankly outrageous, hilarious and depressing; all in roughly equal measures.

If after reading this you still feel the desire to play Conquest of Elysium 3, you can purchase it for £20 over on Desura. May god have mercy on your soul.

[review pros="High quality background music. Unique abilities for each race." cons="Awful presentation. Convoluted, awkward gameplay. AI controlled battle system." score=30]

There are 29 comments

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  1. Broooski

    I think you’re missing a fair bit of the game. However, as a person who apparently wants to be a professional game writer (at least by the name of your site), not reading a very helpful manual because it is too long, and then panning the game because you don’t understand a lot of the mechanics, doesn’t speak well to professionalism.

  2. Phelot


    Are the stats that difficult? Does it really boggle the mind to understand that “Acid Resistance” in fact resists damage from acid attacks? Are you simply slow?

    Hey, you know what, you got a point about the combat, a lot of people won’t like not having control… but your main point seems to be that the player units act “randomly.” What exactly is random about a melee unit being positioned up front and attacking hand to hand, an archer staying in the back firing his missile weapon, and a wizard staying in the way back casting spells, is beyond me.

    And complaining about the beginning being difficult… AND you claim to love HoMM… Baffling to be honest.

  3. Ono

    Sadly, I found reading your review hindered by the number of typos, grammatical and orthgraphical mistakes, and poor wording. But what really confused me was your third paragraph, in which you give voice to the deplorable graphics while simultaneously indicating that the development team did not have access to a six-figure budget — as if you are completely disregarding that you are writing for a INDIE Game magazine. Do you realize who your target groups are? Surely, the graphics are outdated, and the sound is dreadful, but that’s not what you were expecting from an INDIE game, was it?
    Other than that, you seem to be off the mark on a number of issues regarding gameplay, but of course tastes will differ. I’ll be sure to take things written here with a huge grain of salt.

  4. Hunter

    People are different, and entitled to their opinion. Clearly you didn’t enjoy the game. I love it, and think it is one of the best TBS games released for years. 

  5. calmon70

    If you don’t like bombards of data and its overwhelming for you why you test complex games and not just more-casual-like?

  6. Bumbasaur

    ahahahah this reviewer should play dominions 3 :D
    coe3 is meant to be light and if you see it as “hard” to understad pls get an education

  7. Guest

    You’re criticizing the sprites? I think the they are amazing, especially given that they’re hand drawn, one pixel at a time, by one of the game designers (out of a team of 2, on essentially a $0 budget), keeping in mind that within the game files are over 1500 creature sprites.

  8. H Arsenault

    If you have never played Dominions 3, you are probably going to find it hard to understand this game, because most of the units are imported from that game. The game is touted as a simplified version of Dom3, but in fact it is more difficult to play (I have both), except for the setting up phase of Dom3, which couldn’t be more complex. you should know that Dom3 has one of the most fanatical player base in the game world, so expect your review to get hammered.

  9. Guest

    If you’re too lazy to even make an effort to understand the game that you are reviewing, don’t review it! I presume the reviewer is used to playing gimmicky flash games that take less time to finish than to read this review, but damn… at least say something like “it’s not my cup of tea” or “i just tried to play it like it was homm6 and it didn’t work out”… But man, I really thought that reviewers on a site called indiegamemag wouldn’t be bothered that much by lack of eye-candy or depth.

  10. Mouse

    In other words you don’t like the game because you couldn’t be bothered to learn how to play it.

  11. Personman

    Crazy idea, Gerrard: I don’t think you quite have what it takes to be an actual critic. You complain about depth and stats, IN A STRATEGY GAME MADE FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE DEPTH AND STATS. You’re either a simpleton who can’t grasp relatively easy concepts, or you willfully reviewed a game that’s simply not for you.

  12. Frederick Wrigley

    I preordered it, knowing that it would (a) have a great deal of roguelike unfairness, and (b) lotsa monsters. I will admit that getting started seems to take even longer than in Dominions 3…

  13. J__rimmer

    Been playing Dominions 3 by Illwater and it’s a superb game, very deep. I love the combat aspect in it. This game appears similar and it’s obvious the review has no clue with regards to games like this. Talk about going over his head.

    This what happens when people grow up on RTS rubbish from an early age or shallow FPS game, or even worse Angry birds.

    Can anyone tell me how this compares to Dom3? If it’s been simplified to much I may not be keen.

  14. Friendly Necromancer

    This is a fairly upsetting review, because it seems the author didn’t take the time to truly grasp the mechanics. They are somewhat arcane, undoubtedly, but incomprehensible? Hardly. I have played this game and many others from this developer and I can tell you it is a true gem beneath its rough exterior. This reviewer simply could not bear its lack of polish and budget to dig deep enough to find the diamond in the rough. 30% ? That is the score I give this review.

  15. heatEXTEND

    This must be the most hilariously bad review I have read in the last couple of years, and that says something.

    Like an FPS fanatic reviewing an RTS saying “you can’t even shoot the guys yourself, this game is for cowardly megalomaniacs only!”. Class act…

  16. Amirka

    I think writer was upset about graphic side of the game and didn’t “bother” to discover the actual game play after that. Sad.

  17. John

    You misspelled vain in the first paragraph… dumbass. I say that too, knowing you haven’t taken the time to learn the game and instead have opted to post this review too early to earn a quick buck. Double dumbass.

  18. Disgusted

    I think i’d rather go back to playing Master of Magic, I wonder if most of these fanboys are old enough to remember that one..

  19. Dickward

    Its clear that the review did not ‘grasp’ the game. This game is quite difficult to learn and even more so to master. The depth of strategy is mind-boggling. It took me a few tries with one race to understand just how much depth there was.

  20. Kamamura

    Fair review to which I must applaud, because indie pretense aside, Conquest of Elysium 3 sucks bad, almost as much as Dominions 3 shines.

    Why? Not because of the fugly graphics, hell, Dwarf Fortress has it too, but because of the utterly broken game mechanics. The foundation of all empires is growth. You invest resources to expand your resource-collecting base, and once it starts to pile up, you have enough for infrastructure, armies, etc. Yet in this game, you have a measly wage like a peasant, and very little you can do.

    A several years worth your imperial income builds you a squad of wobbly guys with pointy sticks that are almost able to fend off a wandering herd of deer or snakes, and those mobs spawn constantly all around. You don’t really need to know more to smell the fish. Two wolves conquer a city, even a castle.

    Rubbish, broken rubbish.

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