SpellForce 3: Soul Harvest
Grimlore Games/THQ Nordic
2017’s hybrid role-playing/real-time strategy experiment titled SpellForce 3 was met with pretty favorable reviews. People cited the game’s deep character customization system, outstanding art, and compelling storyline as major factors in its success. They also praised the fact that developers Grimlore Games didn’t infuse their little gem with a bunch of preachy social justice stuff, they concentrated on building an epic fantasy narrative and that’s just what you got.
So does the new standalone successor, ominously titled SpellForce 3: Soul Harvest, have the right ingredients to continue this long-running franchise? Let’s find out…
SpellForce 3: Soul Harvest is set after the Purity Wars which took place in the 2017 game. You utilize the character creation system to design your character however you want to, from the ground up. You can choose two ability pools which dictate the path your class will take and can unlock various perks as you progress throughout the game.
Although this is an isometric RPG (the characters are pretty small) and you can’t see the details of the character’s faces that well, one of the first things that I noticed was how excellent the voice acting was. Everybody has a reason that they are in the SpellForce world, with their own individual motivations (or deceptiveness), which is revealed in layers through truly emotive-sounding voice acting.
The main RPG storyline involves a serious dilemma which involves one of the new races in this standalone titles, the Dwarves. You’ll travel to different areas on the sprawling world map and attempt to piece together what exactly is going on. However, I never encountered any of the usual fantasy tropes such as the typical, boringl fetch quests. If they are semi-fetchy, they’re definitely a departure from the norm, that’s for sure.
The storyline unfolds organically and it really feels like your character (and his party) are making profound changes in the game’s world. Each of your party members have an impact of some sort, and even common mercenaries have voice-acted parts, further increasing the immersion.
Throughout the game, you control your main party members—or heroes—each with their own abilities, inventory slots, and equippable items/weapons hotkeys. You can acquire new items either by purchasing them from merchants, or defeating enemies and snatching their loot. You can gather resources and also set up bases. This is where the RPG aspect of the game meets the RTS system, as you build up your forces, construct buildings, and many of the other usual RTS trappings.
Speaking of real-time strategy, SpellForce 3: Soul Harvest’s RTS aspects are simply fantasy nerd cracknip. Whereas I felt that the 2017 game was a little lacking with only three races (Humans, Elves, Orcs), SpellForce 3: Soul Harvest has added two other classic races to the mix.
First up are the Dwarves, with their sturdily built structures, heavy armor, and outstanding siege weapons; they’re really tanky and defensive-minded. We are also introduced to the Dark Elves (finally!), whose diabolical, cruel ways and glass cannon-like units can really cause real problems for anyone who are caught off guard by them. While some folks out there like to play as races that aren’t quite traditional (looking at you, Pillars), most love the classic fantasy tropes and usually stick with those (myself included).
Although the game’s maps are beautifully rendered—probably the best looking I’ve seen in a fantasy RTS—there aren’t many of them on offer. Luckily, the devs have included a full-on map maker as well as mod support, so I’m really looking forward to what the community comes up with.
SpellForce 3: Soul Harvest’s visuals are outstanding. For instance, the trees blow subtly in the wind; the grass and bushes push to the side as each of your units travel through; birds fly through the air and other critters scurry around underfoot. Simply put, this game is a looker and really immerses you to its lived-in feeling world.
SpellForce 3: Soul Harvest is an outstanding sequel to SpellForce 3, and improves on just about everything that made the 2017 game great in the first place. Anyone who likes classic RTS mechanics mixed in with splendid RPG ones should definitely check this game out, as it comes highly recommended.
SpellForce 3: Soul Harvest features some pretty nice looking graphics that make its RTS and RPG gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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