I often find myself bouncing off games within the survival genre. Many are simply too demanding for their own good – there’s nothing worse than being on a quest while your character complains that they’re hungry/thirsty/hot/cold/have a nasty rash. It doesn’t help either that a lot of survival games launch in early access, promising more features than the developers can deliver. Then, when they final launch, they still feel incomplete and unbalanced.
There are some exceptions, of course. I was recently left smitten by Grounded, which left early access feeling polished and refined. Medieval Dynasty is another exception. It genuinely feels as if the developers sat down and discussed at length what features they could realistically implement and to what extent they would enrich the experience. The result is a game that has an RPG’s worth of content to discover, with no real bloat or surplus ideas. This is a lean and focused experience.
The game’s title can be taken literally. Set in the Middle Ages, it’s a case of carving out your own dynasty as a leader. This entails taking on RPG-style quests, creating a thriving settlement, wooing a potential partner, and raising an heir. All the while, choices made affect your dynasty rating. Usually, a couple of quests are on the go at once – with the main quest being continuous. They’re typical of the genre: clearing out a den of wolves, finding a lost courier, running fetch quests, and delivering a “knuckle sandwich” to an untrustworthy villager. There’s no spoken dialogue, meaning you must carefully read responses before choosing, just to make sure you don’t accidentally anger an NPC.
The main quest, meanwhile, acts as a light tutorial, instructing you to build houses, hunting stations, and purchase items to create a basic farm. As such, a lot of time is spent gathering resources. Especially cutting down physics-enabled trees. Resources aren’t too tricky to find, thankfully, and there’s also an overview that highlights everything collectable nearby. Simply running around with the A button held will amass a stockpile of mushrooms, sticks, and more.
Being a survival game, there are gauges to keep tabs on, including thirst and hunger. Again, it isn’t too time-consuming to manage either. Fresh water is always nearby, while the forest provides a lot of edible foodstuffs. Berries are your go-to, replenishing both thirst and hunger. Traps can be set and left overnight, and if you head into shallow water with a spear, you stand a good chance of gouging a fish or two with a well-timed jab. Spears can also be thrown during combat, later replaced with bludgeoning weapons once a smithy has been constructed.
While Medieval Dynasty is quite liberal with its resources, not everything is handed on a plate – it takes around 10-15 minutes of button bashing and scavenging to build a structure such as a house, while the days themselves are quite long, lasting around 30 minutes each. This sets the pace quite well; it’s possible to achieve a fair bit in one day. Before you know it, a change of season commences – and some quests must be completed before a season ends. Certain crops can only be planted in the spring or summer, while winter has harsher weather to endure.
Then there’s the small matter of the villagers – managing their days and keeping them happy initially requires more effort than most quests. Drifters can be asked to join your merry gang, and are quite happy to spend their days farming, hunting, and fishing – as long as you provide them with food, water, and firewood. This, essentially, means you need to become self-proficient eventually – a task that takes several hours, even drawing you away from questing. Villagers need a home (and they won’t share with the same sex) before they can be assigned a role within the community.
And then? This is where things become a little complicated, going into micromanagement territory. They won’t just crack on with their assigned role – they also need to be instructed on which resources to produce. On top of this, they also need to be supplied with the correct tools beforehand. The tutorial glosses over this entirely, making this yet another survival game where it’s essential to visit various Wikis and forums to learn the finer points.
Indeed, Medieval Dynasty does ask quite a bit from you, requiring a degree of commitment. It is rewarding, though – especially seeing your village expand and your character grow and develop. Now seems a good time to mention the customisable options that allow experiences to be tailored, making things far easier and streamlined – weaker enemies, more XP, and even invincibility are just a few button presses away.
The presentation is generally impressive too, aside from small text. There’s a choice of first and third-person views, textures are sharp and detailed, water effects alluring, and the sunset picturesque. We encountered very little in the way of glitches either, helping the package as a whole feel polished. Your villagers rise at dawn, attend to their duties, and then mingle before returning home – with no odd AI behaviour in between. The game world would have benefitted from more diverse locations, however. There are small incentives to explore, such as hidden stashes, but I never felt a desire to explore every inch of the map. Fast travel is ridiculously expensive too, eating into your coin pile.
With the evenings drawing in, this is an ideal game to become acquainted with, requiring an untold number of hours to see through to the end – although you may have to spur yourself on once the more involving quests start to surface. A little bit more player motivation may have helped in this area. Nevertheless, this is a decent blend of role-playing, town management, and survival tropes, complemented with a light sprinkling of next-gen tech for added appeal.
Medieval Dynasty is out now on PS5, Xbox Series, and PC. Published by Toplitz and developed by Render Cube.