Fantasy role playing games are huge at the moment in the wake of the recently released Elden Ring. However, back in October 2021 Disciples: Liberation snuck out and may well have passed you by (it certainly did for me).

You experience the events in Disciples: Liberation primarily from the perspective of Avyanna (or Avy) who is very much the main protagonist. She is on a quest to liberate the land of Nevandaar by exploring its many regions and interacting with their indigenous populations. Whether you’re a fan of Elves, Humans, or even the undead they’re all here and ready to rumble.

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There’s an awful lot of dialogue to read in Disciples: Liberation, and most of the main quests are voice acted. I must admit, I did catch myself skipping through bits on occasion. The devs have clearly put work into scripting the lore behind the world and its inhabitants, however there’s nothing here you won’t have seen before as the genre has been pretty much done to death. Certain elements of the story just didn’t grab me.

However, at almost every turn you can choose from several responses for Avy, denoted by a symbol to indicate the type of response. For example, you can try and lie your way through conversations, sweet talk characters to avoid battles or rush in and fight everyone. You can even proposition certain characters which causes the narration to get a little steamy. These choices alter single interactions, rather than the game as a whole. However, there are five different endings that can be unlocked in Disciples: Liberation so choice is certainly a factor throughout.

The structure of Disciples: Liberation reminded me very much of Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars. It’s essentially split into two parts, exploration and battling. The first sees you exploring different landscapes and dungeons, interacting with characters and the world itself. The latter sees you enter a battle phase in an arena made up of hexagonal tiles. Both your own units and enemies will take it in turns to perform their actions in an effort to win the battle.

Nevandaar’s regions can be accessed via your home city, Yllian. It’s here where you can plan for your adventures, by recruiting and training new units, researching spells, gathering your resources and much more. There are also two empty plots for which you will unlock blueprints to further develop your new home. 

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Whilst out exploring the world there are things to find and people to speak to, however the environments are very static. By this I mean that they don’t shift or change depending on in-game events. As a result you can complete them fairly quickly and have no reason to return. Your quests may take you between regions very occasionally, but otherwise you’ll be done.

Your quests can be tracked from the start menu, and there are three different categories in which they fall into. Of course, you can choose to simply follow the main story and cut a lot of quests out, however you will miss out on valuable XP and loot. Your favour with the different races of Nevandaar will fluctuate depending on which of the four factions you assist the most. Other than questing, there are dungeons to explore, chests to find, monsters to kill and resource stations to capture. The dungeons are fairly small maze-like areas, but do add some intrigue beyond the overworld. This formula is pretty much replicated across each region.

Resources in Disciples: Liberation are key to acquiring and upgrading both units and various items. These are generated by capturing different buildings such as mills and mines, as well as finding piles of resources lying around nearby them.

Truth be told, most roads lead to a battle of some sort meaning you’ll be doing so an awful lot. Sometimes it’s obvious that you’re heading into conflict, but every now and then you will be ambushed. As I say, these are turn-based affairs with a jumbled up order in terms of whose units move when. The action takes place on a battlefield made up of hexagonal tiles, meaning movement ranges vary depending on the unit.

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There are various classes such as warriors, rangers, mages and the like who all inflict different types of damage. Each has a couple of moves, and may have a passive and/or backline ability. Your units have attack points, so can usually only carry out a couple of actions before their turn is over. However, the passive ability kicks in effectively for free, and the backline ability is automatically used if you position your unit behind the battlefield. Mixing up your squad structure can offer all sorts of combinations and benefits depending on your opponent. 

Alongside the grunts, there are hero characters in Disciples: Liberation who will also quite happily ride into battle. You must have Avy in your party at all times, and then you can have another couple to accompany her. More key characters will join your party as you play through the story, as well as your overall squad cap increasing.

The battlefields themselves are fairly standard, however they come with various hexes along with hazardous conditions. For example, random units may be afflicted with poison or if they remain immobile take damage as punishment. Normally you will need to eliminate all units to win, but sometimes the victory conditions differ where you may just have to survive for a certain amount of rounds or take out the enemy commander to win.

Of course, in a game such as Disciples: Liberation, developing your character is key to the experience. Avy can upskill over three different ability trees, as well as make use of loot found by exploring Nevandaar. Armour and weapons can be upgraded to higher tiers whilst in Yllian, as well as buildings in the city itself which gives access to more powerful units, items and more. It takes a little while to get to this point however, so the options for battling can feel quite limited until you unlock new units to try out.

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You can also choose items and shards for many of your squad members, which adds another layer of customisation. Shards offer slight buffs for your characters, however when combined they become stronger, offering greater benefits. Carefully upgrading and combining all of these elements will make life easier, and despite the customisation system not being too complex, it works well overall.

Despite very much being a single player experience, there is a multiplayer mode in Disciples: Liberation. It’s a fairly simple but always welcome offering, giving you the chance to face off against a friend in online skirmish matches.

Disciples: Liberation is optimised for Xbox Series X|S and looks lovely, despite the very occasional sluggishness. I found it an exciting and intriguing place to be, which really made me want to explore. It may partly be thanks to this, but I can’t deny that there is something about Disciples: Liberation which got me hooked, and I ended up playing for lengthy sessions.

This is a game that will certainly split opinion. Overall I really enjoyed it, despite the gameplay being simple enough to feel repetitive. However, Disciples: Liberation is wrapped up in lush visuals and menus which take the edge off and do enough to keep you coming back for more.

Despite the gameplay not being quite as deep as you may expect, Disciples: Liberation offers up an attractive, if limited, world which is exciting to explore. 

Disciples: Liberation is on the Xbox Store

Fantasy role playing games are huge at the moment in the wake of the recently released Elden Ring. However, back in October 2021 Disciples: Liberation snuck out and may well have passed you by (it certainly did for me). You experience the events in Disciples: Liberation primarily from the perspective of Avyanna (or Avy) who is very much the main protagonist. She is on a quest to liberate the land of Nevandaar by exploring its many regions and interacting with their indigenous populations. Whether you’re a fan of Elves, Humans, or even the undead they’re all here and ready to…

Pros:

  • Enticing world to explore
  • Lengthy campaign
  • Fair amount of customisation available
  • Simple but fun battling system

Cons:

  • Repetitive gameplay
  • Reams of dialogue to read

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Kalypso Media
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 21 Oct 2021
  • Launch price from - £41.74
TXH Score

3.5/5

Pros:

  • Enticing world to explore
  • Lengthy campaign
  • Fair amount of customisation available
  • Simple but fun battling system

Cons:

  • Repetitive gameplay
  • Reams of dialogue to read

Info:

  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game go to - Kalypso Media
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, PS4, PS5
  • Version reviewed - Xbox Series X
  • Release date - 21 Oct 2021
  • Launch price from - £41.74

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