To Battle! Hell’s Crusade is defined by the developers as “a classic, old-school, turn-based battle in a satirical medieval world.” and they are not kidding around! This game really is as old school as it gets! Imagine chess (yes, I meant, really old school!) but hexagons instead of grids. And you can train and level up your “soldiers”. And terrain matters. The rest is pure strategy with very minimal luck factor.

The game bows to table top games on the visual side too. The battlefields look like a wooden board. Your army looks like war-gaming miniatures, beautifully created by the developer Alex Javor, and very much looking like historical Crusaders.

At the beginning of the game you are asked to choose to either follow the adventure campaign or play veteran style. Knowing my place, I played the adventure campaign mode.

One thing I really liked about this game is that it is super easy to get into. When you click Tutorial, you connect to a YouTube channel with 7 short videos. They all take less than 10 minutes to watch and that’s all you need to know to start playing this game. Controls are smooth and UI is user-friendly. You can see details of each unit with a right click. When you attack, you can see a 90% accurate estimate of your damage point against the enemy and its counter-damage point. When your unit steps on a terrain type, you can see if it increases or reduces your defense. Everything is crystal clear.

pure strategy with very minimal luck factor.

The story goes that evil forces have come to capture your village and, soon you find out, rest of the country. Your war-band consists of filthy peasants and low rank soldiers at first. Then you seek to merge with the greater Holy Army. You fight to liberate towns from the Demons and gain supplies as well as recruit more skilled fighters along the way. On each level, the “Lord” must stay alive. Of course you also try to save as many souls as you can, as they continue marching with you on the next levels.  

The scenario is filled with Monty Python style humor, specifically embodied with the filthy peasant character. The developers liked this character so much that they even named the developer (and publisher) company as Filthy Peasant Games. This starving, ill-teethed, filthy peasant welcomes you on the screen each time you start the game, so get used to him! Voice acting is enjoyable. And if you want to skip conversations, you can.

So I said, “each time you start the game”. The game has a pre-given scenario and accordingly designed levels, but this doesn’t mean you will play it just once. For one thing, the game is hard! Especially for a rather mediocre tactician like myself. Deprived of sufficient means to continue, I often went back to replay the earlier levels. And let me tell you, it was fun each time. I knew where the enemies were located and all, but the game-play still evolved in a different way as much as I tried a different strategy.

I often went back to replay the earlier levels. And let me tell you, it was fun each time.

Infantry, archers, cavalry all have their strengths and weaknesses, with respect to one another and on certain terrain types. If you manage to position your men wisely, you may give serious damage to the enemies even during their own turn. Also perks you can add during the battle as your men level up, and army building choices at the end of each campaign level allow further customization.

The developers promise new campaigns in order to ensure more re-playability. Steam page announces that we will be able to play the Demons next. I will surely look forward to it!

How can this game get better? For me, the first progress would be if the developers introduced a difficulty level system. The game gets really challenging as you advance. The players may get frustrated facing failure so often.

On the visual side, I think if the enemy miniatures’ stands looked more dramatically different than the player miniatures’ stands, it would be easier to the eye, especially at more crowded battles where you have to zoom out to be able to fairly access the situation and decide your next maneuver.

I read that one of the reviewers on Steam page suggested the developers give tools to players to create custom maps. I think this is a brilliant idea! Crowd-sourcing would bring so many possibilities to this game. I would be very much interested to see what fellow players can come up with.

How about a PvP mode? Well, of course, having to wait for an opponent to play a whole army one by one can be tedious compared to having to wait for the AI, but since this game already feels like a board game, it might as well go that direction too.

In a nutshell, it is a good game and deserves love. And love from players who buy and play it is all they will get since the developers did not set up a Twitter page or a website. I understand that they decided to rely on word of the mouth alone, so I’m writing this to help that cause!

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