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Elemental: Fallen Enchantress (PC) review: Elemental: Fallen Enchantress (PC)

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The Good Compelling turn-based gameplay keeps you coming back for more
Great empire-building options provide long-term strategic depth and replayability
Aggressive, challenging AI
Eerie, atmospheric music contributes to the fantasy flavor

The Bad Extremely tough in the beginning
Not enough variety to the predictable tactical battles
Dated battlefield and unit visuals

The Bottom Line Fallen Enchantress is a smart, challenging strategy game with tons of depth.

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7.5 Overall

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Fallen Enchantress might be considered something of an apology letter as much as a game. Stardock Entertainment's strategy/fantasy role-playing game mash-up attempts to make up for the disaster that was 2010's Elemental: War of Magic, finally delivering the game that many were expecting way back when. Virtually all of the missing features and bugs that were lamented two years ago have been addressed here. The result is a much more accomplished game, complete with rewarding empire building on an expansive scale and brutally challenging enemy forces. Some flaws remain when it comes to a steep learning curve and the repetition seen in tactical battles, but this is still an enjoyable epic guaranteed to keep you up late playing one more turn.


Fallen Enchantress' strengths are in its empire building and tactical depth, not its visuals. Resist the temptation to zoom in.

At its heart, Fallen Enchantress is a turn-based 4X game in the tradition of the fondly remembered Master of Magic. You take on the role of a hero sovereign leading one of eight factions warring for dominance of the ravaged magical land of Elemental. All have varying philosophies and viewpoints on worldly matters that go well beyond fantasy stereotypes of good and evil, along with a lot of history. It's unfortunate that the world isn't as visually distinctive as this rich history might suggest; the monsters are so generic (does anyone ever want to see any more giant spiders in a fantasy game?) that none of them stay with you.

You can safely ignore most of the lore, however, and concentrate on the gameplay. Everything breaks down to lingering enmities between the good-guy Kingdoms of Men and the bad-guy Empires of the Fallen in a post-cataclysmic world most distinguished by elemental shards that serve as generators for magic. So: good, bad, spells, swords, cities, monsters. You don't really need to know anything else.


Fallen Enchantress' strengths are in its empire building and tactical depth, not its visuals. Resist the temptation to zoom in.

There are two ways to play. You can either choose the story-heavy Fallen Enchantress scenario that sets up the gameworld with a look at all the factions and main players, or go for sandbox challenges. The latter is the real meat of the game, where you pick a pre-rolled sovereign or whip up one of your own, and then sally forth on a custom map with selected opponents and general game conditions. The complexity can be overwhelming at first. While there is a tutorial, it skimps on a lot of details and leaves you with more questions than answers, so you need to play the scenario first.

The scenario is quite different from the sandbox mode of play, but it's invaluable because it leads you by the hand for a good while by cutting down your options and giving you a tight focus with simplified quest objectives and a well-written story to follow. It's just too bad that this isn't outlined more clearly in the main menu; there are no clues that this scenario features so much on-the-job training. Jumping from the inadequate tutorial straight into a custom game without checking out the scenario first leads to a fair bit of frustration as you immediately encounter all sorts of options that the tutorial never touches on.


Fallen Enchantress' strengths are in its empire building and tactical depth, not its visuals. Resist the temptation to zoom in.

Starting slowly is necessary, largely because the game has a tremendous amount of depth. The scope isn't quite the same, but there is a lot of Civilization here: you build a main city, complete with all sorts of facilities to improve army building, commerce, and the like. Resources are gathered across the map. You stockpile everything: the gildar that functions as the game's main currency, resource points, mana, metal, crystals, and more. Virtually everything is collected automatically based on what you build and where you build it, thankfully, so there is no serious micromanagement.

From these early beginnings with one city, you expand across the land with outposts and satellite cities. Each new city can be established with a different purpose. You might have a town that comes with a bonus to the area of control it establishes, a conclave all about scholarly pursuits that buffs research, or a fortress that gives a level to all troops trained there.

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