Fate is convenient. We use it to explain why we fall in love or talk about our future. The idea that things are “meant to be” is attractive in a world that is, in reality, ruled by chaos. We love it in our video games, too. How many titles have you played where you were THE CHOSEN ONE? It makes for easy exposition to say you’re the hero in a world full of NPCs. But NPCs have lives too. What’s their story like?
Medieval Dynasty from Toplitz Productions gives players a glimpse of what life is like for the poop-shovelers on the side of the road as the heroes race by. A clever and accessible survival sim, it puts you in the role of a very average man tasked with a very average mission: starting over.
The first thing you should know about life as a medieval nobody is that it is rather dull. Like most survival games, Medieval Dynasty starts off with a predictable learning curve. You have literally nothing, but a few sticks and rocks later you’ve got a handful of tools. Use your axe to cut down trees, then cut the trees into logs, then use the logs to make a house. The grind is kind of the point, so expect your first few hours to be very basic.
That isn’t to say there’s nothing going on. Your story involves you learning about your deceased uncle’s mysterious past, as well as chatting and charming the local townsfolk. Fetch quests yield rewards, and as you learn new recipes and skills you can spend your experience points on a variety of buffs and upgrades to make gathering and crafting more efficient. Like all good survival games there’s no wasted effort here, everything is useful in one way or another.
It’s also a pleasant, pastoral sandbox of a world. You’ll start out with a fair amount of exploring to learn the lay of the land, always in constant battle with your carry weight. Hunting provides some action, but the real focus of Medieval Dynasties is in how you develop your village. Once you build enough structures you can attract villagers to live alongside you, and if you can keep them happy they can supply you with materials and labor (and maybe even love and children).
This is where the “dynasty” comes into play. You get dynasty points in-game that serve as your reputation, which has an impact on how people treat you. A big happy village is good, an empty starving one is bad. The big picture goal is to create a village that outlasts you, with a nice brood of handsome descendants to keep your dynasty alive.
If you’re playing this game with winning in mind then you’re approaching it all wrong. It’s about the journey, not the destination. Create your own small goals and you’ll lose hours in a flash. And relax. There’s no world-eating dragons to conquer or undead scourge to repel. Go fishing, touch grass, make a friend. Live the simple life ASAP.
Medieval Dynasty is available now on Xbox Game Pass. It’s also for sale on Xbox, PlayStation and PC.