Ancestors Legacy Conqueror’s edition is a real-time strategy game that gives you the opportunity to control 4 different groups – Viking, Anglo-Saxon, German or Slav – and plunder, pillage and conquer your way through 30 ‘expansive’ history-inspired missions. Resource management and tactical nous is advertised as king here with missions that mostly consist of capturing bases to claim as your own before moving onto the next one. With a large selection of maps that provide different ways to approach each battle and with each army having its own unique characteristics, the game manages to live up to its expansive billing, despite the lack of control you’ll feel during it.
As someone who is utterly useless at strategy games, I was happy to be reintroduced to its mechanics via the tutorials and the game’s clean and efficient user interface, but soon came to realize that there isn’t a great deal left to impress with repetitive and unrewarding gameplay that gives the player little reason to keep coming back for more.
This is due to the most frequent part of the action being as inflexible as the axe you wield. Confrontations, while starting off small, often form into one large hackathon, but with no effective way to change your position mid-battle, the victor is decided before they even lock swords. The inability to move your units when ‘engaged’ is especially frustrating when they are stacked behind each other, and the only way to disengage their idleness is to force them to retreat halfway back across the map, before being able to call them back – if the units don’t end up in the exact same position that is, as they often decide your commands are a suggestion rather than a requirement. It’s highly cumbersome and puts the success of entire missions down to luck, even in easy mode.
Unsurprisingly, this inflexibility also applies to the enemy AI who will let your units retreat mere meters away to your base during battle and reform your entire army. I, hardly the master of strategic thinking, was defeated more times than I’d willingly admit due to this issue because I didn’t think the enemy AI would provide such an obvious affront of logic. Satisfying victories can certainly be had with a few well-placed archer units or a pincer attack to blindside enemies, but these strategies are soon overwhelmed by the inflexible battling system and a rather high enemy refresh rate.
The developer Destructive Creations ran the gauntlet a little here as their previous title attracted a lot of negative press for excessive violence and shock advertising, and while you can still kill villagers for absolutely no reason, it’s mostly accidental due to its mindless and unintentionally suicidal villager AI.
This theme of poor implementation can be seen throughout, with its decent features squandering all the opportunities its potential affords and ultimately finds itself a spot on the Venn diagram of forgettable gaming experiences. A prime example of this is the action that can be viewed through a shaky close-up camera which shows its well-animated action cinematically, only for a bug to cause fighters to stare fixated offscreen as they are fighting, to swoop in and ruin the illusion.
Perhaps the best compliment I can give the game, albeit backhanded, is that Ancestors’ poor voice-acting and lack of any story-based tension – echoing that of a factual Sunday morning cartoon but with bloody visuals – forced me onto its free battle and multiplayer modes, which are by far the best this game has to offer, with a nice selection of maps and adjustable options that provide replay value to the title.
Ancestors legacy Conqueror’s Edition makes historical accuracy the hill it wants to die on but refuses to build any depth with its narrative, segmenting it into ample missions with minimal context. Its crisp graphics and efficient user interface belies a game with inflexible strategic gameplay mechanisms and poor AI, that ultimately makes this title recommendable only in its accessibility rather than its overall quality.