Build and manage your very own medieval kingdom complete with grand castles, a Beast in the Pit of Judgement and even good ol' public humiliation through stocks. As the "Watcher", or divine being in the sky, your job is to fulfill a Kingdom Ambition. This is done by populating the kingdom with all sorts of Sims starting with the Monarch (which can be a King or a Queen depending on which gender you end up choosing) down to the local Bard. After that, you'll have your hands full passing edicts, surviving assassination attempts and fulfilling Quests depending on which character you are currently controlling.
Getting All Knightly and Such
Though it does share a few nifty features found in The Sims 3, The Sims Medieval is not actually an expansion pack. You can play the game without having the Sims 3 installed. That being said, the game is a lot more like The Sims Stories series in the sense that you have an actual story to follow instead of the free play mode that put The Sims games on the map. You are also limited in terms of game areas to explore and there are fewer customization options available.
However, the sheer number of things to do does make up for these limitations. You can spend countless hours just replaying quests to see how different decisions change how the story pans out. The graphics are also pretty snazzy. If you were impressed with character models in The Sims 3, you can expect even more realistic faces thanks to an upgrade in rendering technology.
Quests are Important, but so are Other Endeavours
Being a thematic, quest-based game instead of an open world life simulation or empire simulation game, The Sims Medieval offers plenty of unique features not found in other Sim titles. One of the first ones you'll encounter is the Fatal Flaw. This is basically a negative trait that is given to a Sim during character creation. It comes in several different flavours, namely, Physical, Social, Motive and Behaviour and every Sim is required to have one. Because they give characters a set disadvantage, you will need to employ a bit of strategy to ensure that your heroes are fit for their roles. For instance, a Knight with the Puny Fatal Flaw will have a harder time winning duels. Fortunately, there is an option to replace, or shall we say overcome, these disadvantages using Legendary Traits. These have bigger benefits compared to regular traits and are earned either by accomplishing Quests or levelling up.
The Sims Medieval also features duelling. As a Monarch, a Knight or a Spy, you could choose to engage in either a normal or "to the death" type of combat with another Sim. This causes the two to suffer a drop in their relationship score. On the other hand, initiating in a sparring match will improve the relationship between participants. While in battle, the player can manually change the Sim's fighting stance and use special moves. Everything else is automatic. Once a Sim's stamina or health bar is depleted, they lose the match. Landing blows and defending successfully depends on several factors: character level, armour type, weapon type, weapon condition and Focus level.
Religion also plays a big role in The Sims Medieval. Once a united ancient church, the Peteran and Jacoban sects have their own Priests and followers. The two use different tactics to persuade people to convert. The Peteran church relies on sermons and popularity while the wealthy Jacoban church uses scare tactics to gain members. Both groups worship the Watcher. Yes, that means you.
Heroes Make it Fun
Quests, which are probably the most important feature of The Sims Medieval, allow you to go off on adventures using the Hero Sims. You are free to choose which Hero Sim you take on each one. While controlling that particular character, the rest of your Hero Sims live their lives alongside the Village Sims in the kingdom. Fulfilling Quests bring you closer to achieving your Kingdom Ambition. Your performance is rated and, depending on how well you did, you will be rewarded accordingly. It is easy to see how well you did using the Quest Performance meter.
Similar to the career/profession system found in The Sims 3: Ambitions, The Sims Medieval allows players to level up. Experience points are gained by completing quests as well as performing actions to progress the storyline. Going up a level unlocks new crafts and skills for the character, which should be a familiar concept for anyone who has played an RPG.
Finally, a Sims game wouldn't be complete without some way to establish relationships between Sims. In this title, Hero Sims are allowed to marry and have children with other Hero Sims or even Villager NPCs. Normally, children do not age and turn into adults. That is, unless the related character dies in the middle of a Quest. In that case, players may choose to pass the role to a child by turning him or her into an adult.
A Grand Adventure
So should you take a break from managing Sunset Valley to craft legendary weapons and seek out the fountain of youth? It all really depends on what you're looking for. Go for the Sims Medieval if the thematic presentation appeals to you and you don't mind the limitations set by the Quest system. However, if you were hoping for a medieval version of The Sims 3 or are looking for a proper RPG experience, then even with the ability to cure townspeople using leeches, this game may not be the right fit for you.