There have been many cultures in the world but this game only cares about seven of them– ten in the expansion patch. Your kingdom begins small, your king and 40 villagers but your empire will grow. Make treaties, research weapons of war, then build said weapons– that would be the next logical point, train armies, fight monsters– wait what happened the historical accuracy thing we had going?
Seven Kingdoms was developed by Enlight Software with a team of Trevor Chan– who’s name merits being on the front of the game box. That’s top billing for someone that was doing consulting for programming of airline sales systems. Actually, that sounds shockingly complex. As far as I can tell he was the only designer for this game, but obviously not the only programmer. Enlight Software would go on to publish another of Chan’s games, Capitalism.
Fun Fact: It’s one of the few games from the 90s that was made to be Linux compatible.
Seven Kingdoms was released on November 30th, 1997. It released alongside Total Annihilation (PC), Fallout (PC), Diddy Kong Racing (Nintendo 64), and Megaman Legends (PS1).
This is the first game that I ever beat on the highest difficulty setting. It was a harrowing gamble with enemies on all sides. I relied on manpower to supply my military but researched weapons of war and sold them to the highest bidders. Soon, my enemies turned on each other with vast armies made of machines. When there was only one left standing the tax on his coffers lead his weapons and kingdom into disrepair. He killed so many civilians that his people despised him. The rampant rebellions left his army without food and when the dust settled there was nothing left of him. Conquer? I have people to do that for me.
Unlike other strategy games of the time this game is not about resource management. The only resources are money, food, and reputation. Food is produced by villagers that don’t have other jobs, money is produced by taxing villages and mining and selling resources that are randomly placed on the map, and reputation is gained slowly over time and by killing monsters and lost by breaking treaties, killing civilians, and getting your spies caught. Low reputations can cause rebellions which lead to more civilians getting killed– which creates a viscous cycle of civilian death and reputation loss.
The seven kingdoms are the Normans, Greeks, Japanese, Vikings, Chinese, Mayans, and Persians and Deadly Adversaries introduces the Egyptians, Mughuls, and Zulus– all other civilizations go home. Each of these civilizations has their own stats and gain combat abilities as their combat score gets higher. Some races have shields that can protect them from ranged attacks, some races have ranged attacks, some unlock berzerker attacks that do intense amounts of damage, some attack quickly or start with higher damage than others. They feel really different from each other and I think that’s interesting.
The kingdoms also interact differently with each other, each kingdom is more agreeable to its own. If you want to take over a Mughul village you’d best send a Mughul general to convince them to join.
The monsters on the map come in over 20 varieties with slightly different stats. The design of these monsters are really cool. Some are the basic giant rock people, rat people, and skeletons. But some are weird reptilian creatures.
This game has a really in depth espionage system. You can bribe other people, steal technology, start wars, create unrest, assassinate generals, and claim forts out from under enemy noses. Unfortunately it’s handicapped by a weird AI bug– at least I think it’s a bug. Most of the time when you send a spy into an enemy kingdom they get found out immediately. So, the system is really interesting even though it’s just working against you. The AI will send scores and scores of spies at you and most of them will fail in their missions.
Maps can have different goals. You can destroy all kingdoms or see who can get an economic score of 1000 the highest. Set a time limit, how many kingdoms there are, how many independent villages there are and how resilient they are to attack.
I mentioned the Fryhtans before but I’ll mention them again. Their designs are just so cool. I used to use them as monsters in my dungeons and dragon’s campaigns, I don’t know why I stopped. They also create more lairs. I spent one game destroying my enemies and seeing how many fryhtans it would take to overwhelm me.
There’s something mindlessly fun about setting the game to the highest speed setting and just waiting to see what happens, hoping that you can slow it down in time to deal with whatever issue comes up.
Even if you get eliminated you can keep the game going to see how the rest of the campaign unfolds. You can also interfere with certain activities but it might cause the game to crash.
The cheats in this game are so fun. Turning the enemy civilization into a melting pot by adding different races to his villages causing revolt is silly fun.
It’s just so annoying that the touted espionage system doesn’t seem to work. The sequel doesn’t have the instant elimination problem so you actually get to play with the system. But that’s the sequel not this game– the sequel that came out 11 years after the original.
The naval mechanics in this game are needlessly complex. Performing sea trade or getting men across oceans are giant hassles. I usually play on large land masses to counter this.
The game AI isn’t spectacular. Sometimes your soldiers won’t react to enemy units until they’re uncomfortably close. Unless your units have ranged attacks which creates a dominant strategy for units with range.
This game holds up surprisingly well if your machine can run it. It’s also abandonware so it’s free. Sometimes it gets a little micromanaging heavy but I can wholeheartedly recommend it.
Next Week: Final Fantasy VI