Songs of Conquest Review – Exciting Heroes of Might and Magic Remake in Pixelart Style

Songs of Conquest Review - spannendes Heroes of Might and Magic Remake im Pixelart Style (Test)_q
Songs of Conquest Review
Exciting
Heroes of Might and Magic
Remake in Pixelart Style

Songs of Conquest attempts to revive the old fantasy role-playing strategy brand Heroes of Might and Magic. Explore a map with heroes, gather resources, train units, expand cities, and ultimately conquer the world.

In the Songs of Conquest review from ZapZockt.de, you can learn more about the new turn-based strategy game with light fantasy RPG elements, similar to HoMM in pixel graphics style. The Songs of Conquest Early Access Release Date was on May 10th, 2022, and I will show you the PC Gameplay in a Video with German Voice-Over and English subtitles (CC).

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This post is available here as text, but also as a YouTube Video (German Voice-Over, English Subtitles). So you can choose how you like to enjoy it most.

Songs of Conquest Review Video

German Voice-Over, many subtitles

Songs of Conquest Review - spannendes Heroes of Might and Magic Remake im Pixelart Style

Songs of Conquest Test – Intro

Hi there, here is the Zap. In this Songs of Conquest review, you’ll get a little insight into the new strategy role-playing game with completely turn-based gameplay. As always, I’ll tell you how it is played, what’s in it, and at the end, I’ll give you a rating. But the most important point is that you get all the info, so you can decide for yourself if the game could be fun for you.

Songs of Conquest is developed by Lavapotion and published by Coffee Stain. This is the first game of this studio. I received a free trial key, my thanks for that. However, this should not affect my rating, as I always test all games with the thought in the back of my mind, how would I feel if I had paid full price.


Background – Songs of Conquest – Inspiration from Heroes of Might and Magic

Songs of Conquest Review - spannendes Heroes of Might and Magic Remake im Pixelart Style (Test) 01 Background - Hintergrund - Inspiration HoMM
Songs of Conquest Review
Background – Hintergrund – Inspiration HoMM

Songs of Conquest is the first game by the Swedish studio Lavapotion. It was released on May 10th, 2022 as an Early Access version. So it is still in development. Behind it is a small team that has been working on the idea of reviving an old, iconic series for about five years. They are all fans of the famous Heroes of Might and Magic series. Therefore, they are now trying to enrich this with their own ideas and dare to create a new edition of this strategy role-playing game with Songs of Conquest.

Just a quick jump to the role models. Okay, completely in short is not possible, because Might and Magic is a very, very old role-playing game series that existed for almost 30 years. But I’ll summarize as briefly as I can why the series was so popular and why it isn’t anymore.

The first part of the now 10-part role-playing game saga appeared back in 1986. For many years, these turn-based RPGs were very popular, where you always move forward square by square through forests, meadows, cities, and dungeons as if on a game board. And especially in the days of Amiga, Atari ST, and the early PCs, every RPG fan knew Might and Magic. In 2014, Might and Magic X or 10 appeared as a last attempt to refresh the somewhat aging checkerboard RPGs, but it wasn’t quite as successful.

As a spin-off of the series, Heroes of Might and Magic was released in 1995. Here, the game moved away from the proven 3D grid to a 2D map that you could look at from above. There was a little less RPG and more strategy, e.g. through cities that could be conquered and gradually expanded with resources from the surroundings. And with the special kind of visuals and the special combat simulations, Heroes looked more and more like a digital board game, in a very positive way.

In the course of the game we were able to explore the world, train units, level up heroes, and improve them with equipment. In addition, there was research and city expansion, together this all offered a lot of strategy and also role-playing elements that were many hours of fun, alone or with friends.

And together with the turn-based battles, which were somewhat three-dimensional as viewed from an oblique angle, these games formed a genre unto themselves with a charm all of their own. Additional gameplay depth came from different races, such as elves, humans, orcs, necromancers, and dozens of different soldiers and monster varieties from which to build your armies.

And the deeper the actual Might and Magic role-playing game series sank into the relic box with each new installment, the better the Heroes series became, also affectionately abbreviated HoMM by fans. The best parts, in my opinion, were Heroes III and IV, which came out in the late 90s and early 2000s.

With Hotseat Multiplayer, you could battle with friends for many days and nights to dominate the fantasy realm. And level editors and random maps provided an almost endless supply of challenges.

But part four was followed by the bankruptcy of inventors New World Computing and its parent company 3DO Entertainment. After that, the Might and Magic brand was sold to Ubisoft in 2003. And unfortunately, that marked the final demise of both variants, from my point of view.

Ubisoft kept commissioning smaller studios to build new titles for the brand over the years. But regrettably, never found a team that understood the series so properly and implemented it appropriately. Presumably, however, this was also due to Ubisoft’s specifications, and not just these developers.

More and more 3D graphics were integrated into Heroes, but this fatally destroyed the charm of the series, and even apart from that, players were more and more dissatisfied with the new implementations. After the moderately to not at all successful parts 5, 6, and 7 and some failed attempts to get Heroes into the online realm, the Heroes brand went to sleep in 2015.

The old role models – Might & Magic – Heroes of Might and Magic

Click or tap into the image for a larger view.
In the enlarged view, you can scroll right and left on the edges


Spieltyp – Turn-based strategy role-playing game

Songs of Conquest Test
Game Type turn based RPG Strategy
Songs of Conquest Test
Game Type turn-based RPG Strategy

Songs of Conquest now tries to fill this old concept with new life and uses pixelart graphics for it, to let some retro feeling come up. More about the graphics later in the conclusion section. Let’s first take a look at the gameplay.

We have hero units that travel around the map leading an army. With them, we discover buildings, places, hidden treasures but also enemies. We can usually see these from a distance. And then we can consider whether we dare to attack them.

Because normal monster groups are all stationary, if we don’t attack them, they will stand there waiting for us. Only the enemy heroes can travel around the map just like us, and then attack us by surprise as well.

As we travel around, we discover resources in crates or at all sorts of different places, like decaying houses, mage towers, or other things like that. Sometimes instead of wood, stones, money, gems, or cloth, we get to experience or equipment for the heroes. Very often we have to choose whether we would rather have resource XYZ or item ABC.

But the most important places on the map are the settlements and cities. Here we can build our own buildings around them, which consumes our collected supplies of wood, stone, etc.

But we will mainly train units or construct buildings to exercise and upgrade our heroes and troops. Or we’ll build sawmills or quarries for more materials and markets where we trade surplus items for other materials we haven’t found yet.

We need to provide defense because enemy heroes can capture our cities if we don’t secure them sufficiently. And mines and other resource sources are taken in the surrounding countryside can also change hands at any time if we don’t take care of them.

In doing so, we must gradually uncover the map and explore new areas, clearing enemies out of the way and defeating them in turn-based battles. These battles are always fought on hex battlefields. Here we can tweak the formation a bit at the beginning and then move our units across the field and lead them into battle. Different heights, encirclements, attacks of opportunity, and also all sorts of spells and buffs by the hero are available to us.

In the campaign, we have to reach certain places or capture a very specific city for victory. In battles or multiplayer matches, it is then simply a matter of knocking all the other tribes off the map.


Gameplay – World and Story

Songs of Conquest Review - spannendes Heroes of Might and Magic Remake im Pixelart Style (Test) 03 Gameplay - World and Story - Welt und Geschichte
Songs of Conquest Gameplay
World and Story

Songs of Conquest comes with two campaigns already for its Early Access release. In each, there is a small, multi-part story. In the process, we play through several missions and keep our heroes. Thus, in later maps, you have characters with already improved stats and equipment, and you can keep improving them. I liked that a lot.

The narrative of the story seemed to me now, however, rather middle class. In the end, it mostly boiled down to “kill all the enemies and conquer their cities”. That wasn’t really terrible, although more depth could have been offered here. But maybe there’s more stuff to come.


Tech, Graphics, Sound, Engine, Translation

Songs of Conquest Review
Tech, Graphics, Sound, Engine, Translation
Songs of Conquest Review
Tech, Graphics, Sound, Engine, Translation

Songs of Conquest was built in the Unity engine. It runs stable and mostly smooth, even on mid-range systems. It sometimes offers very good, often mediocre, but sometimes unfortunately not so fancy pixelart graphics. More about that in the next section.

The options menu is commendable, offering many setting options to adapt the game to different hardware. Even with the game controls, you can change many settings to your liking. One thing that is still missing is the possibility to change the keyboard layout, which could be done better.

The music is orchestral bombastic but goes okay. I would have liked a more medieval bard style instead of a state orchestra staged opera though. After completing a campaign episode, there are quite fancy, very short verses performed by a bard, of which the game could use more. Voice acting is currently non-existent.

The on-screen text, tutorials, tooltips, and story snippets are available in nine languages. In addition to English and German, you can choose Italian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, and French, as well as Chinese and Russian.

Songs of Conquest Screenshots – Ingame Pictures

Click or tap into the image for a larger view.
In the enlarged view, you can scroll right and left on the edges


Songs of Conquest Test – Opinion and Conclusion

Songs of Conquest Test
Opinion and Conclusion
Songs of Conquest Test
Opinion and Conclusion

Overall, the gameplay and feel of the Heroes series are already captured pretty well by Songs of Conquest. The developers definitely manage to stir up HoMM memories in me. The gameplay is similar enough to appeal, and there are a few original ideas in there as well.

Although I don’t applaud all of the design decisions, the game is definitely enjoyable in that regard and offers quite a bit of playtime, and with multiplayer and a map editor, there’s a promise for long replay value.

Some things I don’t like so much, though, like the design of the settlements and cities. Although, the idea is quite nice that you can see from the outside of the city directly which buildings exist. But that you have to manage and click through all buildings separately from each other is very inconvenient. Here I would like, as in HoMM, a total overview of the whole city on one screen much better.

Overall, a few UI elements could just be easier to use or with fewer clicks. The role models were very complex but had very good user interfaces for that, so it was easy and intuitive to find and control the individual features. There is still room for improvement here with SoC.

In the battles, you have all kinds of possibilities to proceed more tactically. Spells can be used to buff your own units or slow down and hurt enemies. The hills on the battlefield give advantages to ranged fighters. The combat part is good overall, but still has space for enhancements.

What I miss is, for example, directly clickable targeted attacks from behind, they existed in HoMM. But this is hard to achieve in SoC if you don’t happen to be behind it anyway. And whether it then actually brings advantages, was not directly apparent to me now. Here I would like to see a bit more tactics fine-tuning.

My biggest criticism, however, is the graphics. Because the pixel graphics are really extremely pixelated, at least in parts. There are often beautiful landscapes, some stuff is really fancy, but especially the characters don’t look that well most of the time.

And on top, this also particularly affects the main characters. These are not pretty to look at and are also animated very sparingly, with very few frames per animation. In the case of the main character in the first campaign, you can’t even tell if it’s male or female, let alone what kind of weapon the character is using.

And of all things, these characters are then repeatedly zoomed in quite close in conversations. As a result, the not really nice pixel models are then scaled up even further and appear almost full-screen even more pixelated. But even with some objects on the map, it wasn’t really clear to me what they were supposed to represent at all. A few times I had to do a mouseover first to read the text description.

And this is where a line is crossed for me. There are really nifty pixelart games, including quite a few that I like a lot. Darkest Dungeon or Legend of Keepers for example are very positive examples. There I never had the problem that I first had to guess what something should represent.

But for me, it is always absolutely incomprehensible, why today’s pixelart games sometimes have to look so much worse than the games on the Amiga or sometimes even worse than the graphics on the C64 from 1985. That is not retro, if then at the end today’s product looks worse than back then.

In part, of course, pixel graphics of the time were nicer at the time because CRT monitors and CRT TVs put a smoothing effect on pixels. This blurred adjacent pixels into each other, often creating completely different effects.

Example Pixelart on a CRT and LCD-LED Monitor
Example Pixelart on a CRT and LCD-LED Monitor

There is quite interesting research on this, feel free to google it. And there are also pixelart artists who simulate these effects using modern shaders to create these low-resolution, but still much fancier graphics.

But if it is simply almost impossible to recognize at the end, and then also the particularly important main character of the campaign is affected by it, then the comprehension is simply lost with me. This is then unfortunately for me no pixelart anymore, but pixel mush, and therefore there are deductions for the graphics here. None of the Heroes games has ever had such bad-looking figures, even not in the 90s. Okay, sorry for the rant, but this really bothered me in the extreme.

In conclusion, I feel the game’s price of €29.99 or $ is a bit too much on the high end of the scale. It’s still halfway acceptable due to two campaigns, multiplayer and map editor, but then for an Early Access game, it could be a bit more affordable.

The game is in Early Access, but for that, it is actually already very well matured, stable and extensive. It offers all sorts of replay value. If there really will be more content by the developers and by the community during Early Access, the price may be okay at some point. But it’s hard to know now if that will really happen.

However, already a few days after release, more than 30 maps and a few small mods from the community are available. Here we can thus currently assume very great interest of the modders. If there will also be extensive campaigns with stories, the playtime value of SoC will surely increase even more. So the trend seems to me to be positive for the future.


Songs of Conquest Review – Rating

Considering the good technical condition, the scope, and the fun of the game in relation to the price of €29.99 or $, I would like to give Songs of Conquest a baseline rating of 85 %. Since it revives a cult series of the 90s and 00s in a suitable way, I’m therefore happy to give it a 5 % liking bonus.

But on the other hand, I have to take 3 % off for the somewhat high price despite the partly unfinished game. And SoC gets another 5 % deduction for the unfortunately not that pretty character designs, which sometimes only show pixel mush instead of pixel art.

This brings me to a final rating of 82 %. There is a high chance that Songs of Conquest will rise to 85-90 % in the future, with more features, maps, player-made campaigns, and hopefully prettier character sprites.

Songs of Conquest Review
Rating with numbers - 82 percent
Songs of Conquest Review
Rating with numbers – 82 percent

Songs of Conquest

Zap from ZapZockt.de

Songs of Conquest Review - spannendes Heroes of Might and Magic Remake im Pixelart Style (Test)_q
In the Songs of Conquest Test There Are Old, Popular Game Mechanics Like in Heroes of Might and Magic Reinterpreted in a Modern Way, but Trimmed to Retro by Pixelart

Songs of Conquest attempts to revive the old fantasy role-playing strategy brand Heroes of Might and Magic. Explore a map with heroes, gather resources, train units, expand cities, and ultimately conquer the world.
Strategy
Role-play
Getting the Feeling and Features of the Role-Models
Graphics
Sound
Scope of the Game
State of the Game (Early Access Start)
Fun per Price Ratio

Rating

Considering the good technical condition, the scope, and the fun of the game in relation to the price of €29.99 or $, I would like to give Songs of Conquest a baseline rating of 85 %. Since it revives a cult series of the 90s and 00s in a suitable way, I’m therefore happy to give it a 5 % liking bonus.

But on the other hand, I have to take 3 % off for the somewhat high price despite the partly unfinished game. And SoC gets another 5 % deduction for the unfortunately not that pretty character designs, which sometimes only show pixel mush instead of pixel art.

This brings me to a final rating of 82 %. There is a high chance that Songs of Conquest will rise to 85-90 % in the future, with more features, maps, player-made campaigns, and hopefully prettier character sprites.

4.1

Outro

Are you into fantasy realm turn-based strategy with multiplayer and a map editor? Or are squishy pixel characters not your kind of stuff? Feel free to write me your opinion in the comments or in the community Discord.

More gaming news, game reviews, and guides can be found on the YouTube channel or at https://zapzockt.de – thumbs click, subscribe, and share with friends certainly can’t hurt, and then I wish you a great day, ciao ciao, your Zap

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Songs of Conquest Steampage

Lavapotion – Dev Website

Songs of Conquest Twitter

Songs of Conquest Instagram

Songs of Conquest Discord Server

Songs of Conquest Facebook


Reading – recommendations:

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