Ancestors Legacy is the latest offering from Destructive Creations, the same people that developed Hatred, that one AO-rated top-down shooter released on Steam a few years back. They since went on to produce an on-rails shooter called IS Defense. Now they are here with a tactical real-time strategy game. Despite this bizarre shift in genre, Ancestors Legacy proved to be an alright game.
Note: I did not play the multiplayer portion of the game (no one to play it with pre-release), so this review reflects the singleplayer experience.
Campaign variety. Ancestors Legacy goes above and beyond with the different faction campaigns available. Not only are there several to choose from, along with each taking roughly 2-3 hours to finish, but each offers up different methods of play. For example, the very first campaign focuses on introducing the player to the various mechanics of the game and is a general “run here, capture this, plunder this” campaign. Despite being a tutorial, it was actually a pretty cool campaign. However, the next campaign I played had me sneaking around, disarming traps and taking command of various troops to win a decisive battle. Sure, each campaign does revolve around taking objectives and dominating the enemy, but that is just the genre. The stories depicted here, along with the different play styles, make each campaign unique and fun to play.
Simple base-building and resource-gathering. I quite liked how Ancestors Legacy managed the base-building and resource-gathering elements, making them simple to manage, yet in-depth enough to warrant at least a bit of strategy. Resource-gathering is done by taking over villages on the map and forcing peasants to work for the player. There is little micromanagement there, as peasants can be assigned to their tasks with as little as one button press. Villages all have different types of resources available, with some having mines, farms, etc. These facilities are shown on the map, so it makes it easy to target certain villages for a specific resource. Using resources from these villages allows upgrades to be purchased at home base as well as defenses for the different villages. The player does not have to place buildings themselves either, just giving the command is enough for them to be constructed. With most of these elements on autopilot, the player is able to focus more on the game’s combat.
The cutscenes. This is a minor pro, but I really appreciated how the game hid its loading screens behind cutscenes. Between each level, a cutscene would play to advance the story and load at the same time. This is not really a common practice in games these days, but I wish it were. The cutscenes are also pretty well-developed, so there is that too.
Tedious combat. The combat in the game is passable, but it is brought down by how tedious it is. The game lacks any sort of time-skipping or fast-forwarding features, so many of the battles can become quite boring if they last long enough. There also is not a whole lot to do in a battle outside of just sending in more troops and maybe repositioning ranged units for a tactical advantage. Even so, who wins in a battle usually just boils down to who has the larger army.
Movement issues. There are a number of issues with the game’s movement system, particularly with units getting stuck and some buggy movement routing. The former can actually be game-breaking at times. The last mission in the first campaign is an excellent showcase of this issue. While playing, I managed to get my entire squad stuck in the northern enemy camp, unable to progress towards the last building that needed to be razed. After retreating and coming back several times, I was finally able to take the building, but I managed to get one unit stuck permanently, unable to move and unable to retreat as it said the unit was not in combat. This issue can also occur in other tight areas and is really annoying when it does happen.
The other movement issue pertains to unit routing. Normally, one would expect the game to choose the shortest route to where the player right-clicks, but there are a number of areas where this simply does not happen. Units would oftentimes follow the most bizarre routes just to get to a building right next to them, or to get around an obstacle that can easily be crossed elsewhere.
Combat lock-in. One way in which Ancestors Legacy sets itself apart from similar games is how it manages its combat. Once engaged in a battle with an enemy unit, all units involved in the battle cannot leave it until the battle is complete or until the player issues a retreat order. Unfortunately, this mechanic turned out to be quite the nuisance. For one, if the player tries to navigate units around a battle and allows the units to get too close, those units are then drawn into the battle from that position, which can be massively disadvantageous as positioning plays a key role in the game’s combat. This is particularly annoying when trying to dispatch a smaller unit to take out archers, only for this unit to get absorbed into a battle happening nearby, ignoring their previous objective.
However, the game does offer a retreat order, but it has some drawbacks. If the player does issue a retreat order, the units retreating must run a significant distance back before they can be ordered to do something else. This makes it so the player cannot easily back out of a battle and go elsewhere, rather having to wait for the retreat order to wear off. Considering how slow units move in the game, it can be quite the pain to get units back to where they were right before entering a battle.
Ancestors Legacy is not the greatest strategy game in the world, but it can be fun at times. The campaigns are easily the best part of the game, even if the combat can be tedious and buggy. I do recommend the game, but it is a very light recommendation, only for those that are really into the genre. If you are not, then I would advise looking elsewhere.
You can buy Ancestors Legacy on Steam here.
I was provided a free review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.