Crown Wars: The Black Prince Review – The Hundred Years’ War Tactics

Check out our review to see how well Crown Wars: The Black Prince holds up against heavyweights in the turn-based strategy genre.

Posted By | On 28th, May. 2024

Crown Wars: The Black Prince Review – The Hundred Years’ War Tactics

Crown Wars: The Black Prince is a unique take on the tactical strategy game genre, the game retells the story of the historic Hundred Years’ War, albeit with a few fantasy elements thrown in. While conceptually, it presents an interesting context, the lack of full-on fantasy elements in its story and gameplay also has the potential to hinder the game, rendering it to be a little more than a history lesson. Crown Wars: The Black Prince avoids these pitfalls thanks to some of the more occult elements in its story and is able to be an engaging game in its own right.

Crown Wars: The Black Prince offers up an incredibly interesting take on the turn-based tactical game genre by borrowing heavily from quite a few different titles. Its influences can be traced from a number of sources, be it the XCOM-styled stealth and character progression, to base building that looks like it’s right out of Darkest Dungeon, and even roster management that’s incredibly close to what we see in Mordheim: City of the Damned. While ideas are freely borrowed from other titles, the way Crown Wars: The Black Prince puts them together makes the gameplay feel like it’s greater than the sum of its parts.

Throughout the campaign, you’re tasked with sending your squads out on missions all over the realm, and in the process, you’ll get rewarded with new gear, as well as resources that can be used to upgrade the various buildings in your keep, the gear on your different characters, and even features that allow you to, for example, let some of your soldiers rest to get back some of their lost health and stamina. The domain management offers up most of the meta-narrative and larger-scaled objectives, with several buildings and upgrades being locked behind missions and resource requirements.

When you take on a mission, you have to pick from soldiers in your barracks, and kit them out with weapons, armor, healing items, and depending on the type of soldier you have, maybe even some explosives. Missions themselves can be rather long at times, especially since they often take place on larger maps that are broken up into smaller skirmishes you might get into. Before you get into a fight, however, you also have the option to sneak up on enemies to set up ambushes.

crown wars the black prince 1

"Throughout the campaign, you’re tasked with sending your squads out on missions all over the realm"

Once one of your soldiers is spotted, the real fight begins, and a lot of Crown Wars: The Black Prince just straight up feels like medieval European XCOM, albeit with more streamlined game mechanics. Your soldiers, especially when you start out, have three actions they can do—1 movement and 2 attacks. If you can’t attack enemies, you can also use up those attack actions to move further. There’s also a cover system and depending on the type of map you end up fighting in, archers can either be absolutely useless, or the most annoying things ever.

Much like any other tactical strategy game, every attack has a hit chance, and Crown Wars: The Black Prince promotes keeping your soldiers close together by rewarding you with higher hit chances when allies are standing side-by-side. Generally speaking, however, tactics will win fights more than anything else in the game, and even if you find yourself being horribly outnumbered, the right positioning and the right set of abilities will do more to win the game for you than a poorly thought-out all-out attack would.

While missions in Crown Wars: The Black Prince can often be long, they never really feel boring. Just about every mission you set out on will have some sort of interesting twist, be it some fun terrain to play around with, or even a special type of powerful enemy that will make you rethink all of your tactics. When it comes to pure gameplay, Crown Wars: The Black Prince is a lot of fun, and the general loop of kitting out soldiers by completing missions and unlocking new buildings is pretty fun.

Unfortunately, the story itself is a bit of a letdown. Crown Wars: The Black Prince suffers in trying to retell a historic event with a twist, largely because the more interesting stuff takes quite a while to actually kick in. You’re going to be spending a long time dealing with just regular soldiers and enemies—all speaking with a grandiosity in their voice that would feel like parody if the game weren’t trying to be sincere.

While the setting itself is rife with interesting things happening all over Europe—the Black Plague is still fresh, for instance—the story largely sticks to rooting out evil corruption in the upper echelons of French society and nobility. I personally found the main story to be incredibly boring, which is a shame because the primary setting of the game is quite fun, and there was a lot of potential for a more interesting story there.

Generally speaking, Crown Wars: The Black Prince is arguably let down quite a bit by just about everything that isn’t core gameplay. The story, while trying to be grandiose and majestic, ends up feeling like little more than an excuse to send you to your next mission, and the voice acting can be comedic at the best of times, and downright terrible at the worst.

crown wars the black prince 3

"The story, while trying to be grandiose and majestic, ends up feeling like little more than an excuse to send you to your next mission"

In terms of visuals, Crown Wars: The Black Prince just isn’t a particularly good-looking game. The title has some rather lo-fi art, and while this looks great in some spots, like the domain management screen which gradually grows to be grander and gaudier as you progress through the story, the battles themselves have a tendency to look like plastic toys smashing into each other. Characters can be quite detailed, which is especially great considering the fact that you’re encouraged to customize all of your soldiers. The environments, however, look quite bad, with flat texture work and a surprising lack of detail in just about everything.

When it comes to audio, the game doesn’t really have much that would set it apart from heavyweights of the genre like Expeditions: Rome or King Arthur: Knight’s Tale. It goes for a grand symphonic soundtrack that ends up feeling really generic, and the game doesn’t really have much in the way of a memorable moment punctuated by the flourish of an awesome song. The music in the background is just that—in the background.

Crown Wars: The Black Prince is an interesting case where, while most of its aspects are disappointing, the core gameplay is strong enough to carry the whole experience on its back. The simple gameplay loop of domain and roster management, and tactical battles kept me coming back for more every time, even though most of the cutscenes and storytelling in the game ranges from uninteresting-but-inoffensive, to downright boring at points. If you’re a fan of tactical strategy games in the vein of XCOM or Expeditions: Rome, Crown War: The Black Prince offers a decent twist on the time-tested formula by mashing up a bunch of ideas together. If you’re the kind of player that absolutely needs strong visuals as well as a great story to keep pushing you forward, however, I’d recommend playing something else.

This game was reviewed on PC.


THE GOOD

Core gameplay loop is excellent; The missions are fun and challenging; Combat feeding into the management aspects of the game makes for a fun loop; Watching your soldiers get stronger by completing missions can be satisfying.

THE BAD

Dull visuals; Boring story; Bad voice acting.

Final Verdict:
FAIR
Crown Wars: The Black Prince is a decent game that is let down by a variety of reasons. While the story, visuals and audio are all, at best, mediocre, the strong gameplay loop where combat directly feeds into the management mechanics is an excellent way to flex your tactical prowess.
A copy of this game was provided by Developer/Publisher/Distributor/PR Agency for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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