Guest Author - James Shea
A variation of the classic Sims model, "The Sims Medieval" combines the life simulation of the Sims with a more directed gameplay style, set in a Ren-Faire fantasy world.
The Sims Medieval puts the player in control of a small fantasy kingdom. The player alternates between control of several important figures within the kingdom such as knights, spies, wizards, and even monarchs. Unlike previous Sim games, which were entirely open-ended, The Sims Medieval is based around completing quests for the good of the kingdom.
At the start of a game, there is only one major building in the kingdom: the castle, which is home to the monarch. When quests are completed, the player receives points with which to build new buildings, which in turn house new playable characters. For example, a barracks houses the Knight character, a cathedral houses the Priest character, and so on. All playable characters are customizable, from skin to hair to clothes to personality, just as in previous Sims games. During quests, only one Sim is controlled (though some quests requiring a second character).
Quest objectives are generally simple, and are always presented right in front of the player: go here, do this, talk to this person, etcetera. Sims have different abilities dependent on their class, as well: spies can pickpocket people or rough them up for information, priests can convert others to their faith, knights can challenge people to duels, and so on. The only real "challenge" in completing quests, though, is keeping your Sim happy while completing objectives by managing their food, energy, and stress level.
Like previous Sim games, a lot of time in the Sims Medieval is spent waiting. This is especially true of many quests, where the simple "go here, do this" part of the quest is occasionally interrupted by the need for the Sim to grab a meal or some sleep. During a quest, the player has license to do the "sandbox" parts of the game such as buying items, redecorating their house, making friends, and finding romance. However, the game is unmistakably quest-driven, as it's impossible to have the sandbox WITHOUT the quest. And perhaps that's for the best, as the customization of the game's world is fairly lacking.
While certain parts of the game are extremely customizable, such as characters' wardrobes and furniture placement, it's not really as much so as the proper Sims games. For example, each building has a pre-determined shape: you can move furniture and such around WITHIN that building, but the building itself is always going to be the same. As such, it was hard to really make the game feel customized: you're just running through quests with your barely-characterized Sims for the opportunity to buy some relatively simple decorations.
The game's graphics are pretty good, and there's a huge number of objects and clothing options that suit the game's medieval theme. The art style wavers between detailed and cartoonish in an attempt to appeal to both "actual medieval" aesthetics and "fantasy medieval" aesthetics, which can end up looking kind of silly. It's possible to set up a unifying aesthetic in one's game world by coordinating colors and outfits, but the game has a strangely low amount of actual kingdom management - no customizable banners or heraldry, which seems like a pretty basic thing in a game like this.
Overall, The Sims Medieval is an okay game if you want to kill time. It all "works" okay, it's just that it gets boring really quickly. If you can manage to stay interested in its basic concept, then it's a pretty good game. If you're looking for anything deep that will hold your attention, it's probably not worth it. 7/10.
We purchased The Sims Medieval with our own funds.