Updated: Jan 23
By Friar Walter of Litchfield
This year has been a banner year for video games, from new iterations of beloved games to new titles. A number of outstanding medieval/fantasy games have also been released this year, and here are the top nine.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Metacritic Score: 90
Systems: PlayStation, Xbox, PC
This single-player stealth action game is set during Japan’s medieval Sengoku period. Similar to that of the developer’s previous titles, such as their notoriously difficult Dark Souls series, Sekiro is a slightly more forgiving game.
As Wolf, a one-armed shinobi (ninja), players navigate the detailed and immersive world of feudal Japan, but with added fantasy elements. For instance, Wolf’s missing arm has been replaced by a prosthetic limb, providing him with a few “tricks up his sleeve,” such as a grappling hook. Sekiro is a challenging game with a steep (but not too steep) learning curve, perfect for those who dream of being a sneaky ninja warrior.
Metacritic Score: 82
Fighting duels that could have been ripped "from the pages of Arthurian legend,” (Charlie Hall at Kotaku.com) Morhau consists of players battling it out, melee style, in a realistic medieval setting.
There are several modes of gameplay, including a battle royale mode that makes Mordhau feel a little like a medieval take on Fortnight. Contributing to this feeling are engineer-class characters who can build fortifications and siege weapons. Mordhau is a deep, highly customizable medieval simulator that allows players to experience what battlefield life was like for King Richard the Lionheart.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
Developer: Asobo Studio
Metacritic Score: 81
Systems: PC, Xbox, PlayStation
In most medieval-themed video games, the player-controlled character is a powerful warrior who can solve most of his problems with a swing of his massive sword. But most Europeans in the Middle Ages weren't powerful warriors; rather, they were powerless peasants and serfs. The player-controlled character in A Plague Tale is just that: a young girl who, along with her younger brother, must rely mainly on stealth to survive her enemies, including members of the Spanish Inquisition and horrifying plague rats. If you want to know what life in medieval France was really like for the average person, check out A Plague Tale.
Developer: Hi-Rez Studios
IGN Score: 7.8
Systems: PC, Switch, PlayStation, Xbox
Based on Hi-Rez’s hero shooter game Paladin, Realm Royale is a steampunk/medieval fantasy-inspired battle-royale game, similar to Fortnight and PUBG, but using character classes to create a level of nuance absent in other battle-royale games. At the start of the game, players pick from five classes: warrior, hunter, assassin, engineer, or mage. Since each class has its own unique buffs and abilities, each requires a different style of play. If you enjoy Fortnight but long for a fantasy setting, give Realm Royale a try.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Metacritic Score: 87
I didn’t want to list new installments of medieval/fantasy games already in a popular series (think Elder Scrolls: Blades). But this version of Fire Emblem is such an amazing leap forward for this popular series that I had to include it.
Like previous Fire Emblem games, Three Houses is a turned-based strategy war game on an epic scale. The added element is the three houses at the officer’s academy at Garreg Mach Monastery that players must choose from at the start of the game, a little like picking between Ravenclaw or Slitherin at Hogwarts. Once a player chooses their house, they become a professor at the academy, guiding pupils through lessons, relationships, and battles. If you enjoy games that have fun, medieval-style tactical combat, fascinating characters, and an emotionally engaging story, then check out the latest version of Fire Emblem.
Developer: Lukas Navratil
Metacritic Score: 76
Systems: PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
A steampunk visual aesthetic with a medieval/fantasy narrative, this game is weird yet charming. Attu, the player character, is a tiny fish that controls a robot body, fighting bad guys and bosses, collecting treasure, and exploring a highly detailed, hand-drawn world. The game requires players to make strategic use of oil reserves (health) and steam (stamina) to defeat enemies, thereby avoiding the boring button-mashing that defines the gameplay of many an indie dungeon crawler. Feudal Alloy is perfect for those want to explore a world set at the intersection of steampunk and medieval fantasy.
Metacritic Score: 84
Systems: PC, Switch, Xbox, PlayStation
A turn-based strategy game set in the medieval/fantasy world, players familiar with such titles as Final Fantasy Tactics and Advance Wars will be right at home with this style of gameplay. Commanding one of several warring factions on the island of Aurania, players must strategically place and move troops to defeat enemies, complete missions, and defend territory. Defeating enemies and capturing towns generates gold, which can be used to buy more powerful troops. Wargroove’s game mechanics are easy to learn but difficult to master, creating the perfect game for any armchair Henry V.
Developer: Other Ocean
Metacritic Score: TBD
In 1998, Sony released the original MediEval on the Playstation and it has since become a cult classic. Now Other Ocean is remaking the title “from the grave up”, according to the developers, and it’s one of the most anticipated releases of the year. If it’s similar to its predecessor (and the trailers seem to indicate that it will be), it will be a hack and slash-style single-player game set in a world of medieval horror. If you are a fan of the classic original, or if you like your horror with a dash of cartoony comedy, try out MediEval when it is released in October 2019.
Stranded Sails: Explorers of the Cursed Islands
Developer: Lemonbomb Entertainment
Metacritic Score: TBD
Systems: PC, Switch, Xbox, PlayStation
An interesting mix of farming sim (like Stardew Valley), action adventure, and a dash of Sid Mier’s Pirates, this game looks cute and fun, with charmingly cartoony graphics. According to Roman Matuszczak, creative director at Lemonbomb Entertainment, “Farming, cooking and crafting mechanics are deeply woven with … exploration, adventure and survival. This results in an organic loop that allows the gameplay … to feel relaxing yet thoughtful.” If you enjoyed Harvest Moon but just wished there were more pirates to fight, Stranded Sails might be just the game for you.