I love going into things with no idea what to expect because in my experience it yields far more good than bad. What I came out of reviewing this game with was a feeling of joy and nostalgia. I actually should’ve had this preview done much earlier but every time I went to write it I wanted to play the game instead. (Right, you’re fired – ed.)
Warlock is a blend of Starcraft (which I loved) and Civilization (which was my first love) but with a fantasy theme sewn into it. The way this game has been designed is in such a way that it reminds me of both games but is its own game entirely. It feels like the developers have gone into this game with the mindset “Here is what I liked about this game, here is what I liked about another game. I like the fantasy genre so let’s throw that in too and while we’re at it how about we try a bit of that game.”
You start off choosing one of the three factions, each works a little differently but they all do essentially the same thing. Next you build an empire one city at a time by choosing which buildings to build and which troops to recruit. Lastly you crush your foes beneath your boot heel.
The three factions are Humans, Monsters and Undead. You can take a predetermined bonus scheme from one of the leaders or you can customise your own for example, give yourself a mana bonus every round. Each faction works a little differently with their troops, Undead skeletons are very resistant to ranged attacks and death magic whereas Monster goblins are quicker than their counterparts.
Choosing your buildings is pretty similar to Starcraft, you have to balance your resource production with your troop building and defensive capabilities. You also have a restricted build zone which correlates to the population of your city.
Combat is a simple point and click system. It weighs the defensive advantages or disadvantages of the defender against the attacking advantages or disadvantages of the attacker and gives you a before combat likely outcome. The advantages you can gain come in the form of buffs, building bonuses, terrain and opponent vulnerabilities.
The magic system is reminiscent of Battle for Middle Earth where you have spells you can cast as a god-like character to force your personal influence on the battlefield. There is an ingenious bit of strategy involved in casting magic because some spells will allow you to cast them multiple times a turn whereas others take multiple turns to cast.
I can see this game being a big hit for Paradox Interactive and it has rocketed right to the top of my “must have” list for 2012.
– Aidan B.