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Disciples: Liberation is One of the Best Strategy Games You’ll Play This Year

Talk about a liberating experience!

 

Disciples: Liberation Preview Banner

 

I’m going to let you in on a little secret when it comes to writing reviews and previews for video games—it gets easier with time. Of course, I know that everyone’s different, so your mileage may vary with that statement. Just like with most things, the more you write, the easier writing becomes (at least in some regards). But why the heck am I even telling you this? Well, it’s because that, while it might get easier with time, you’re always going to have stuff that gets in your way from time to time. And, when it came to writing my preview for Disciples: Liberation, it was none other than Disciples Liberation itself that got in my way—but I’ll tell you right here and now that that’s anything but bad.

Enjoying a game so much that I don’t want to stop playing it so I can write about it is probably the highest compliment that I can personally give out—and it’s one that I’ll absolutely hand over to Disciples: Liberation. Despite not being the biggest strategy aficionado around (I like them, though, don’t get me wrong), and knowing next to nothing about the Disciples franchise as a whole before going in (although that’s not entirely the case anymore!), Disciples: Liberation still managed to dig its hooks into my heart very quickly. And if that’s not the mark of a great game, I couldn’t tell you what is.

 

Uniting a Broken Land

 

Disciples: Liberation Preview 2

Choose your words wisely!

 

Like many RPGs, Disciples: Liberation is a very story-driven experience. The story itself follows Avyanna, who, after accidentally ripping a hole through space and winding up in the mystical but very much abandoned city of Yllian, decides to embark on a journey in hopes of liberating the entire nation of Nevendaar from its oppressors. All-in-all it’s a nice, high-fantasy with a solid premise. But that’s not what I’d like to focus on.

While Disciples: Liberation has a good narrative going, it’s really the many characters that Avyanna runs into—as well as Avyanna herself—that makes the story what it is. The bulk of this game’s story very much revolves around the player’s choices, and this most definitely includes the actual progression of the story itself. Nearly every conversation requires some kind of player input, which is great for immersion, and, best of all, it really feels like your choices matterwhich is something that you certainly can’t say for a lot of other games out there. Disciples: Liberation also does an excellent job of balancing out Avyanna’s character. While it’s up to the player to decide how the story should go, it does so without sacrificing Avyanna’s personality. Regardless of what you choose, Avyanna almost always seems to have some kind of logical justification for it (although this is never done to the point that it makes her feel wishy-washy), and it bridges the gap between the player’s version of the MC and the game’s version of the MC incredibly well.

 

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

 

Preview 3

This sure is, uh… pretty?

 

Disciples: Liberation may be a strategy RPG, but it’s got something that many others within the same genre don’t—exploration. Rather than simply navigating through each area via a few clicks on the world map, players are actually able to ride around on their trusty steed while uncovering what each place has in store for them in the process. Granted, exploration is far from complex—maps are generally small and still have a focus on battling and completing quests. However, the fact that you’re able to do anything at all is, strange though it may sound, incredibly refreshing. It’s also nice to be able to manually run away from opponents on the map when you’re low on health, you know?

Regardless of how many places Avyanna’s travels take her, they all begin and end in the same location: Yllian. Acting as the player’s home base (both literally and metaphorically), Yllian is essentially a one-stop-shop for… well, everything. By progressing the story, completing various quests, and capturing gathering points, players are able to accumulate resources and blueprints, which may then be turned into a number of different facilities—allowing you to create and train new units, upgrade weapons and armor, and more—and can even teach Avyanna new magic. While upgrading certain parts of Yllian can feel a little slow at times, the rewards are always worth it in the end, and the fact that you can return to Yllian at almost any time means that you won’t have to worry about waiting for a long time before getting to make use of all of the useful stuff that you’ve gathered while out adventuring.

 

Gnashing Teeth, Clashing Blades

 

Preview 4 Combat

Hoo-boy, is that ever satisfying!

 

Exploration and base-building may take up some of your time, but when it comes down to it, the real focus of Disciples: Liberation is on its combat. Not one to abandon the strategy-based roots of the series, fighting in this game is turn-based with a heavy emphasis on strategy. Winning isn’t just about using the strongest attacks that you have (although that does help out, to be fair); things like unit placement and the timing of certain attacks play just as big of a role. And this, combined with the fact that everyone who isn’t Avyanna can die permanently, means that you really need to have your wits about you when you fight.

I can’t help but feel like this game puts just the right amount of danger into combat. Not letting Avyanna permanently die means that you can use your main character without worrying too much, which I greatly appreciate, but having permadeath slapped onto everyone else—including named characters—really helps to ensure that you come up with appropriate strategies during every turn. The game’s designed to ensure that you can’t really “brute force” your way through battles, no matter how small they might be, and I really enjoyed having to think about things as much as I did. The only thing that got a little old was how every battle essentially used the same field (albeit with minor edits here and there), but I get that it can’t be as grandiose with level designs as the more traditional tactics games can.

 

Riding Toward a Beautiful Dawn

 

 

Disciples: Liberation has shaped up amazingly based on what I’ve seen and experienced, and there really isn’t anything bad that I can say so far. The storycrafting, the base-building, the light exploration mechanics, the combat—it’s all been incredibly fun and surprisingly addictive. It’s a little sad that we won’t be getting the full experience until October, but, so long as the end product doesn’t change much, it will be more than worth the wait.

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Starting out with nothing more than a Game Boy and a copy of Donkey Kong Land, Kenny has happily been gaming for almost his entire life. Easily-excitable and a bit on the chatty side, Kenny has always been eager to share gaming-related thoughts, opinions, and news with others and has been doing so on Hey Poor Player since 2014 and has previously worked with both PKMNcast and SCATcast. Although his taste in gaming spreads across a wide number of companies and consoles, Kenny holds a particular fondness for Nintendo handheld consoles. He is also very proud of his amiibo collection. You can also find him on Twitter @SuperBayleef talking about video games and general nonsense. Some of his favorite games include Tetris Attack, Pokémon Black Version 2, The World Ends With You, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, Yo-kai Watch, Donkey Kong Country 2, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, Kirby's Dreamland 3, Mega Man X, and Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia (among many others).

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