Gameplay is completely familiar The Sims fare. Players control their Sims through the use of the Skewer, and context-sensitive actions are available for many objects and Sims. Time is once again expressed in that strange Sims-esque way, and it seems to take an inordinate amount of the day to accomplish even mundane tasks. Thankfully, time can be compressed by fast-forwarding whenever desired, and a further option to fast-forward until a command is completed is welcome indeed. Of course, fast-forwarding does cause players to miss all the wonderful interactions and amusing quirks that are central to the series.
Once a Quest begins, the current Sim must balance their day-to-day duties with the overall goals of the Quest itself, all the while trying to keep themselves well fed and well rested. Exactly how well a Sim fares at their daily tasks depends on an attribute called Focus. A Focused Sim will have a much better chance at just about everything, from sword-fighting to brewing potions to making Royal Decrees. Maintaining a positive Focus is at the heart of the game, and can be quite tricky at times. Almost akin to happiness, Focus increases when Sims do things they like, such as having nice things, doing well at their jobs, eating a good meal, of having a nice hot bath. Hunger, exhaustion, and shirking their daily responsibilities will bring the Focus score down quickly, making life much more difficult. Each Sim must complete two job-related tasks each day in order to stay happy. Letting these tasks go by the wayside, even to complete the more important Quest-related tasks, can result in Focus loss and, eventually, can result in the Sim being placed in the Stocks. Letting Quest-related tasks go unanswered can result in additional Focus loss and eventually a failed Quest.
Completing jobs is not only important to further the Quest, this is also a primary way a Sim gains experience. In an RPG-lite fashion, Sims gain experience by doing, well, just about anything useful. As they "level", they get better at their specialties--priests become better at leading their flocks in worship of the Watcher, Monarchs become better at ruling, Spies become better at skulking about.
Succeeding in a Quest results in rewards of Resource Points, money, and experience, in addition to adding (or subtracting) Kingdom attributes. The Kingdom has four attributes--well-being, safety, culture, and knowledge. Should any of these attributes become too low, the entire Kingdom suffers. Allow well-being to drop, and plague and pestilence stalks the lands. Lose track of safety, and bandits terrorize the kingdom. Completing quests and constructing buildings brings these totals up, bestowing many benefits.
Once all the Quest Points are spent, the Ambition is over, and players must undertake a new Ambition (or replay the current one for better rank). The entire Kingdom is reset with the new Ambition, which may turn off some players. But, with a new bank of Quests to choose from, and a different set of Kingdom goals for each ambition, there is plenty to do to keep quite busy for a long time.
Once again, The Sims Medieval is all about building up the Kingdom, with each individual Sim being a player in the drama. I found this to be a refreshing take on the Sims formula, wrapped as it was in the clever and charming Sims style. Players wanting yet another rehash of The Sims may be disappointed in the lack of building customization and character depth--those players would do well to just stick with the latest title in the main The Sims line. For those wanting something a little more goal-oriented, with some lite RPG fun thrown in, The Sims Medieval is a fresh face on a very well-polished series.
More On:The Sims Medieval
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
The Sims goes swords-and-sorcery in this quasi-RPG kingdom-focused take on the series.
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