Disciples III Review
From the time I laid my eyes on Disciples III, I knew that there was something relatively familiar. There was the top-down perspective, maps obscured by fog-of-war, tactical turn-based combat, and a magnificent Kingdom overview screen which got progressively populated with newer buildings. Taking cues from games like Heroes of Might & Magic, Disciples III: Renaissance delivers the same old gameplay, and still manages to stay entertaining.
Disciples III splits up the campaign into three different factions: the Empire, Legions of the Damned, or the Elven Alliance. Heroes are only given the bare essentials to begin, including a handful of units and a bare kingdom, before dropping into a map surrounded by darkness. The player must then scour for various resources and items in order to expand the kingdom and build an army.
Clashing swords or casting magic takes place on a hex-grid battlefield in a turn-based manner, more closely resembling Heroes of Might & Magic III than the last Disciples game. Each unit can move differently; some can fly over obstacles, while some can move only a couple of spaces. Caster units can stay in the back and heal the party, or dish out some powerful magic, while the melee units will get up close and personal with the enemy.
The battlefields have different bonus hexes that provide a significant boost when stepped upon. They are also placed strategically across the battlefield, making for some carefully thought out movements. Will I send my unit to a hex that will boost his strength, leaving my mage unprotected, or stay by his side and fend off incoming enemies?
The enemy AI is schizophrenic at best. There are times when the game isn’t a challenge whatsoever, only to fight the next battle and exhaust every spare healing item you have. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy good challenges, but I prefer the difficulty curve to be gradual so that I can prepare for coming battles. Here, you never know whether the next battle will be a cinch, or a formidable struggle for survival.
Hero units level up and become increasingly powerful by learning new skills. Each level grants attribute points to spend, and skills to learn through a talent tree. The player can control up to three hero units, each with their own army, which makes clearing out enemies and uncovering the map a much quicker ordeal.
Disciples fans will be pleased with the revamped aesthetics that ditch the “2D trying to imitate 3D” graphics, and now present the real deal. The game sports a very dark and Gothic art style, with castles and cathedrals, massive pointed towers, flying buttresses, and huge archways. Units and monsters share the same attention to detail, with armor pieces having grand designs. The overly dull color palette fits the theme of the game, so don't expect any vibrant, and cheerful vistas here folks.Purists might find the changes too extreme, and might be put off by new-found similarities to the Heroes series, or rather, outright copying. If nothing else, at least Disciples III: Renaissance puts a visual twist on a classic formula.