Spellforce 3 is an RTS-RPG hybrid developed by Grimlore Games and published by THQ Nordic. I do not have any experience with the previous games of the series, so this review is coming from the perspective of a total newcomer to the series. I have played RTS-RPG hybrids, but none with quite the depth of Spellforce 3. The sharp graphics, surprisingly good voice acting, and tight gameplay make Spellforce 3 a game worth digging into, so let’s do that.
Visuals in this type of game can always be problematic. You need them to be readable, so you can easily tell what’s going on in the chaos, and you need your main characters to look cool and have noticeable gear that changes their models. Spellforce 3 does this all with stylish, high fidelity graphics, clear and readable terrain and character models, and interesting looking gear that you can easily see on your fairly small character models. The art style is gritty but doesn’t suffer from terminal “brownness” like other gritty art styles sometimes fall into. Exterior levels are well lit and varied while interior environments share the same great lighting and never suffer from camera issues that sometimes arise with a top-down, interior camera.
I was not expecting the quality of voice acting brought to the story. The sound effects are great but nothing particularly stood out in that department. The voice acting, however, is fantastic. Characters sound realistic, no one sounds like they’re reading from a page. Conversations don’t suffer from the usual “talking to a wall” quality that I find in a lot of games, where each voice actor sounds like they’re conversing with a wall and their lines are just spliced together. The music was your usual fantasy RPG fare. Nothing special, but suitable.
Spellforce using aspects of both RTS and RPG games to create a deep, satisfying gameplay experience. Your have several main characters with their own gear and skill trees that you level up as you play, on many levels you can also build structures and produce units like any standard RTS. Some maps allow you to use both your units and your characters while other maps take on more of a dungeon crawl feel by forcing you to use only your characters. The skill trees allow a lot of customization, allowing you to create purely martial, purely magic, or any combination of the two. Gear is also a major focus of character progression, with various quality gear dropping from enemies or giving out as quest rewards. It looks cool, it has stats that matter, and it adds another layer of depth to the game.
Spellforce 3 is a great game. It’s not a game without its problems, it has bugs and I’d suggest saving often. Its interesting mix of RTS and RPG leads to a game with a lot more depth and complexity than I’m used to these days and it reminds me of something from a past age of PC gaming. Even as a full price title ($54.99 CAD) I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of RPGs or RTS and especially fans of both.
Review copy of Spellforce 3 provided by THQ Nordic
~~S. W. Jackson~~