Sometimes, indie strategy games are pretty weak. Artificial intelligence is quite difficult to master; making a game act like it has intelligent thought process behind it is not a particularly simple thing. Think about a game of chess; we’ve had electronic chess games for years now, but that’s relatively easy to work with – each piece has a set selection of moves that it can make, the move optimised to go for the best result. With a strategy game however it’s different. There could be dozens and dozens of potential moves, and selecting one which will tip the balance in its favour requires a consciousness of its surroundings. Not easy. That is why I was particularly impressed with Braveland, the latest release from Tortuga Team.
In summary, you star as a warrior who’s village is ransacked by bandits. In your fury, you set off in pursuit, resolved to wreak a terrible vengeance upon them. Along the way, you recruit allies; villagers, wizards, knights, who help you hunt down the bandits. Combat takes place on the classic hexagonal battle grid, with each class of character holding its own strengths and abilities. Some are strong and can fight hand to hand, some are weak and can attack from range, some are just weak but come in large numbers. As you progress you find artifacts that make you more skilled, weapons that are stronger, and reinforcements that are more…erm..reinforcing. It’s hardly a new model but it’s well executed, and its good fun each time you enter into a battle sequence.
What I particularly like about Braveland is the quality of the AI. I appreciate the way that the enemy units attack in a calculated way; often ganging up on one of my units and forcing me back so they can reach my ranged units. The approach they take is often quite clever and can prove to be quite a challenge, almost like playing against another person. This is good, and makes for an enjoyable experience all round.
Graphically Braveland is neat and tidy, choosing a cartoon-style and sticking with it throughout. It all feels polished and well put together, and the soundtrack fits nicely with the setting. The difficulty curve feels about right, ramping up the complexity as you move your way through to keep it a challenge.
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by Braveland. It’s so easy to get this sort of game wrong, either going too complicated, too difficult or worse; too easy. Braveland treads the balance nicely, and will give you a fair few hours of entertainment without becoming boring and repetitive.