Home Reviews 2.5/5 Review Crown Wars: The Black Prince Review

Crown Wars: The Black Prince Review


When I review a game, I try to be as objective as I can be – to let emotion cloud a review seems like a failure, and so normally I try to write dispassionately. However, every now and then, a game does arouse strong feelings, some for good and some for ill. As you could probably guess, this game is one of those. 

That game is Crown Wars: The Black Prince, a turn-based strategy affair from Artefacts Studio and Nacon. It is set in 14th century France, in the era of the Hundred Years War and given that I am a fan of a turn-based strategy title, how wrong can it go? Well, buckle up!

Crown Wars The Black Prince review 1
The turn-based strategy of Crown Wars

A good story is a requirement for this type of game, to keep you plugging away, and here there has been an attempt made. Basically, in the Hundred Years War, there was a faction called the order that wanted to use the occult and some dark arts to help them spread their influence. It is our job to stop them. In so doing, apparently we can help to restore our family’s good name. Sounds good so far, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t the worst story I’ve ever played, but it is also a long way from the best. 

The feeling of disappointment with the story isn’t helped by the voice acting, which is stilted and frankly awful. The sounds of battle and everything else, the music and so on, is all perfectly acceptable, but the voice acting is woeful. And the graphics are also a long way from being best in class, although they do at least show you what is happening on screen with a reasonable amount of clarity. Unless you turn the camera, that is, when all the scenery in the level you are on gets in between you and your view of the action. There is none of that ‘making the objects in the foreground see through’ here, and this can make placing your units problematic to say the least. 

Other than this, the levels are well designed, with verticality built in, and the animations when you dispatch an enemy are suitably brutal and gory, as you’d expect from an age of warfare where hitting each other with big lumps of metal was considered the height of technology!

So, we can move onto the subject of gameplay now, and it is here where we can decide which way this review is going to go. Is the gameplay found in Crown Wars: The Black Prince good enough to let me overlook the flaws so far, or is it a case of too little, too late? 

Crown Wars The Black Prince review 2
Not particularly well optimised

Well, the news isn’t promising for a start, as the game seems badly optimised for the Xbox, both for the console and for the controller. Trying to get your units to move to the square you want them to move to is oddly frustrating, and when it comes time to attack, the cursor to show which enemy you want to hit is usually miles away, causing a moment of confusion as we try to get it back in line. 

Further to that, there have been numerous dashboardings in my time with the game, which is always fun when you are fighting for your life. You can then throw in some stupid glitches – if an enemy is hit and killed by an ally on overwatch, for instance, they stay where they are but keep running about before the game realises they are dead and they fall over. That does seem like something that should have been picked up in the playtest phase…

Other than this, what we have here is a base building/turn based strategy type game, where we have a castle that we can upgrade various bits of. There is a forge, a chapel and so on, and levelling up the various components upgrades the main hall – this is vital as it increases the amount of people you can send on a mission, and without it you’ll struggle, take my word for it. 

Each of your characters can be levelled up as well, choosing from two skill trees as they go, and while this isn’t the deepest upgrade system I’ve ever seen, it does add a bit of interest. The battle scenes are turn-based, and that means you can go about moving then attacking, or vice versa. If you’d prefer to spend all your points running to a point far away, then crack on. It’s all pretty standard stuff, to be honest and that means the good bits are heavily outweighed by the bad. 

Crown Wars The Black Prince review 3
There are too many negatives to recommend this one

I’m going to continue with the negatives as there are other annoyances. The timer on a lot of levels is way too tight and the enemies have far too many numbers on their side (in an early mission, I was sent to kill some people with four members on my team, looking to take out three groups of five enemies without dying). Trying to equip your team is a nightmare, and I have had to start a game again because I needed shackles for a mission (no warning that this would be the case, mind) and in between missions I spent all my gold and resources upgrading weapons and buildings, and so couldn’t get any. With no way to go forward I had to write off that save and start again. 

What else? Oh yeah, the tutorial aspect of Crown Wars: The Black Prince is lacking several important details, like how to extract from a level – after three rounds of reinforcements and with my team down to it’s last shreds of life, the game decided I had taken too long to do something that it hadn’t told me about and I had lost. I’m not gonna lie, the pad nearly went out of the window at that point. 

All in all, Crown Wars: The Black Prince is a disappointment. It is badly converted to the console, it has a number of annoying glitches, and most crucially of all, it isn’t very much fun to play. When it runs without crashing, then it’s fine, but this is far away from the best of all the turn-based strategy games. For the best part of £45, I’d expect a hell of a lot more. 

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crown-wars-the-black-prince-review<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>There is some fun to be had when the annoyances take a back seat</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>The camera</li> <li>The arbitrary time limits</li> <li>No explanation of the systems</li> <li>Just a struggle</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Nacon</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 23 May 2024 | £44.99</li> </ul>
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