It’s been almost 12 years since Disciples III: Renaissance was released on PC in 2009 (or in 2010 in Europe and the United States). Disciples: Liberation was developed by the Studio company and aims to revive the popular series and will bring it to the console for the first time since the launch of the Franchise on PC in 1999. For strangers, Disciples is a turn-based tactical role-playing game in a dark and fantastic environment with player choices and adorable characters.
I’m going to start this preview by admitting that I’ve never played any of the previous Disciples titles, so I won’t comment on whether the recent entry is a faithful or appropriate entry to the series. After playing the game for a few hours now, I can comment on my experience so far. I managed to play a good part of the initial section of the game, but the developers boast of an epic of more than 80 hours, so my time with the game may not completely indicate the full experience. Apart from that, what I played gave me a good impression of Disciples: Liberation and fascinated me a lot about the story and the world that studio created.
In Disciples: Liberation, players take control of a mercenary named Avyana, accompanied by her friend and fellow mercenary for life, Orion, as they travel through the dark fantasy land of Nevendaar to liberate the world and its inhabitants. The game begins with the fact that the two have a contract to execute a priest. This mission goes awry, forcing the couple to escape through a portal to escape certain passed away. This Magical portal leads the two mercenaries to the forgotten city of Ylian.
This location is the base for Disciples’ XCOM-like base building mechanics, while Avyana and Orion attempt to create a Hub and refuge for themselves and others during their adventure. From there, the two travel to different places around the world to gather help in their quest and improve the Magical city by forging alliances with the four different factions of the disciples.
The story itself offers the usual fantasy tropics, but the world and its traditions are rich and immersive, and I wanted to delve deeper into each of the factions and their followers. Each of these groups is unique and has its own units that players can recruit for their cheerful group Of adventurers. These units, in turn, will help the mercenaries in action, since their action effectiveness is influenced by Avyana’s relationship with their respective faction.
Factions are where the game really shines for me, because they are diverse and have their own beliefs and values, often very different from each other. Players can also choose how to deal with the other characters and their factions, usually in dialogue. Players are greeted when interacting with the characters with a healthy selection of options, all fully voice-controlled and displayed in a stylish pop-up window in the center of the screen. In my playing time, these dialogue options often appeared in all conversations, whether it was quests or just a brief conversation with an NPC. All this time, choosing, I always felt like I could play Avyana the way I thought I could, and I feel like it might even give the game a level of replayability.
To begin with, the player has the choice in which of the four areas of Disciples: Liberation he wants to explore first, each area referring to one of the unique factions in the game. Each of these areas has its own appearance and its own environment that perfectly matches the corresponding faction that will populate the region. These places even have their own scenarios that distinguish the environments and characters from the others. For example, the locale of Castle Hale, which refers to the Empire faction, offers a different experience in terms of appearance and plot than the place belonging to the undead faction. These environments are detailed and immersive and I often stopped to record while moving around the world.
Those looking for a meaty and sprawling world to explore may not find what they are looking for here. Although the sections are rich in detail, they are relatively restricted and small compared to other titles in the genre. However, what is here is intended to involve the player more deeply in the narrative and to dive into the game world, which is sometimes all that is needed in a story-laden title like Disciples. The different environments also offer an effective way to make sense of what I consider to be the best characteristic of the Disciples. action.
The actions in Disciples: Liberation are turn-based and take place on a grid of hexagonal tiles. To begin with, the action seems daunting for those who are not familiar with this style, but the tutorial does a great job of updating the player quickly. action can sometimes be a great challenge and the player must quickly learn to effectively use all the skills at his disposal if he wants to succeed.
There’s also a good selection of opponent types to keep players on their toes, and their designs integrate wonderfully with the world and the narrative. During my beta period, I had faced countless different enemies, each with their own challenges, such as undead, projectiles thrown up at my party, knights in heavy armor, mages and priestesses who would constantly strengthen their allies, and even a large heavy werewolf.
At the beginning of the Game, players only have access to Avyana and Orion, but they can build their army on their adventure to match their favorite playstyle and modify their tactics to better cope with certain ultimatums. I quickly learned that Orion is best suited as a secret villain. It can become invisible to enemies before maneuvering behind them to deal heavy finish and apply a bleeding effect. Avyana is also the only member of the group, at least in the part of the game I played, who can have access to spells. This includes a practical healing spell that has become essential to keeping my group on its feet. The action has a real depth, which is a good thing, because players will be locked in it quite often during their adventure.
As mentioned earlier, there is a basic element for disciples: liberation. In my experience, although it is not as detailed and complex as titles like XCOM, it offers a fascinating level of management and customization. During the exploration, players can collect resources and conquer specific buildings. These can be used at the base to improve the effectiveness of the group in action. In Ylian, players can explore new spells for Avyana, train their companions, and reassign skills. This, in turn, allows the player to try new tactics at will. The base can also be upgraded with buildings around the world to increase your skills. Although this is certainly not The main attraction of Disciples: Liberation, the basic building mechanics add another element to the game and give players a good reason to explore the world to improve their home.