I didn’t expect to play five hours of Going Medieval in one sitting right after installing it. I spotted the game on Steam’s top-selling charts, it looked neat, and I gave it a try. Suddenly, after what only felt like a few minutes, I looked up at the clock and realized I had spent hours building, managing, and tinkering with my medieval settlement. And I can’t wait to get back to it.
Going Medieval starts out with three settlers, an empty field, some basic supplies, and that’s it. You can change the starting location, rules, and settings, but on default, the game gives you just enough to make a small shack and some beds. Quickly after starting my first game, my settlers were bored and needed something to do. They would quickly miss being bored.
Each settler is unique, complete with their own needs, stats, personalities, and traits. Managing them is a big part of Going Medieval. For example, early on I had a dude who was really good at building stuff. But sucked at most other things. So I used the game’s job menu to make sure he prioritized building over anything else, while the other two settlers were told to focus first on other stuff, like harvesting wood or researching, besides construction. They are humans, so they need food, medicine, and sleep. You’ll also need to make sure they are entertained and have decent clothes.
And this is where Going Medieval instantly hooked me. Having to balance the needs of three people while also using them to try to get stuff done is a satisfying puzzle to solve. Early on I was nice, giving my small group lots of breaks and plenty of sleep. But then nothing was getting done around the settlement. So I had to crank up the work hours and chip away at how much they could sleep. But you can’t be too mean, or settlers will eventually stop listening to you, or even leave.
On top of having to manage a slowly growing number of unique settlers, Going Medieval is a city builder too. (Or more a village builder.) That means that while you deal with Christopher wanting more time to worship his god or whatever, you’ll also be building… buildings, managing food and waste storage, investing in research trees, setting up crops, and so much more. It might sound overwhelming, but Going Medieval is good at slowly building up the complexity. I always found myself feeling fairly confident when it added a new wrinkle or system. “Ah yes, I get it now!” I would say to myself. Then Going Medieval would smirk, show me a tooltip about managing my settlers’ weapons and armor and sneak away, leaving me with a new plate to spin.
And yes, this is a city-building game that also features RTS-style combat. Each of your settlers can be equipped with armor and weapons. Once they’re armed, you can draft them into a small army and directly control them during attacks and raids. Because they all have their own stats and such, you need to be aware of to whom you are giving what. So, Sally might be a great miner and crafter, but she might not be the best choice to handle that large, powerful sword. Luckily, all stats can be improved by simply having them do related actions. So a terrible archer will get better if they hunt more, or someone with no green thumb will get better at picking plants, eventually, if you let them keep failing at it. It’s a nice system because it lets you brute force your way past micromanaging everything. Though you’ll have to put up with a lot of failures first.
That’s the thing I like the most about Going Medieval. While it might sound like a lot of micromanagement and menu fiddling—and it has a lot of that to be clear—you can also ignore a lot of it and still have a good time. Things will work out. It just might be a rough life for your settlers if you check out of managing them too much.
Going Medieval combines city building, people management, and RTS combat into one delightful Early Access package. Nothing in it is necessarily new, but it’s all done so well, even at this point in its development, that I found myself glued to my PC, lovingly poking at it for hours. I want to make sure my settlers survive and prosper, even if that means I have to keep making them work more and sleep less. It’s because I care, folks.