Fantasy General II is one of the latest games to be published by Slitherin Ltd. Released 5 September 2019, it was developed by ‘Owned by Gravity’ and is a Turn-based hex strategy game. It is one of those games that I have absolutely loved from the start, and continue to enjoy the more I play.
It is the sequel to Fantasy General that was published in 1996. While the game took 23 years to be realised in reality, the story itself takes place 300 years later. It is the fantasy world of Aer, in the land of Keldonia that this tragic tale unfolds.
Meet Falirson, a Viking barbarian and the hero of the game. You start off small, but eventually you move from village to village in an attempt to unite the barbarian hordes against the Empire, the only other playable faction in Skirmish mode. But while there are only two factions, there are also other creatures that will attack you in the wild, such as trolls, wolves and bears, amongst others.
There are 33 scenario campaigns that you play through. You are treated to a stunning map, whereon new locations are unlocked as you play through the story. Of all the elements I enjoy about this game, just staring at the map is one of my favourites, being a fantasy author myself. Drawing fantasy maps is one of my favourite hobbies, so I am really drawn (pun intended) to the absolute beauty of the map.
Through each story, you take turns with the A.I. as you move over hexagon tiles to your objectives. You will come across neutral / wild creatures and beings that will randomly attack you, or the enemy. In each turn, you can either move, attack or take some action with your troops. These actions include raiding special tiles for gold and equipment, resting to heal units, or investigating special locations. Some tiles will also require something of you should you wish a special reward.
When you are about to attack an enemy, an icon will appear to inform you of your chance of survival. If there is no retaliation expected, there is usually a decisive attack that will really wound your enemy. If your units level up during battle, you can go to the upgrade screen to upgrade one of their abilities. The main characters seem to carry across their new abilities to the next mission.
At the start, you only have a few units to play with, but as you progress through the campaign, the battles become rather intense. Even on easy mode you will find the battles quite challenging. Sometimes it all comes down to strategy: when to pull back wounded units to heal while other units continue to assail the enemy. Your approach is also essential, as sometimes you need a full frontal assault, and other times you need to go in a few units at a time.
The graphics are really beautiful. I love the artwork that has been applied during loading screens and during story narrative. Each character and creature has been beautifully crafted and I am amazed at what the art team has been able to pull off. The different seasons are depicted so wonderfully in each stage, you can almost feel the chill of moving through the snow.
What I truly appreciated was the functionality of each tile, something I have already hinted at before. Tiles can be clear and easy to traverse, but this leaves you open to attack. If you remain on a forest tile, you remain hidden and can ambush an enemy, which adds an extra attack bonus. It isn’t simply a click and move game. You actually spend time reading the information on each tile before you move there.
The Skirmish mode can be fun and takes you straight into the action. However, you are limited to only the Barbarian and Empire factions, something that I hope changes with future content. And while there is a Multiplayer mode, in the time I’ve spent playing the game, I have yet to find a lobby. Sadly, the game isn’t that popular yet, so no one is creating lobbies online. I do feel, though, that this would be fantastic to play online against other players, if more factions became available.
Fantasy General II will keep you busy for a good couple of hours, if not days. Once you are done with the Campaign more, the only thing that will keep you playing are the Trophies and Skirmish mode. That doesn’t make it a bad game though. There is so much content in the game itself, rich with stellar images and amazing gameplay. I love that you can attach artifacts to heroes, as well as cast spells.
The game is everything a fantasy strategy enthusiasts could want. And it is brought to you by Slitherine, the same people that brought us Battlestar Galactica Deadlock and Warhammer 40K: Gladius, amongst others. I’m really loving these intense strategy games that they have to offer, in a time when I thought strategy games like this had died off.
Here are some elements that I believe would have made the game better. Some voice acting would not have hurt, saving my eyes from reading the large amount of gorgeous narrative that the game has. They make up for this by the wonderful sounds and music tracks in the game itself. I would also like to see strategy games like this come to the Switch, which Slitherine have thankfully done with Battlestar Galactica Deadlock (my review on this platform coming soon!)
In summary, Fantasy General II: Invasion, will really appeal to fantasy strategists out there. The developers put a tremendous amount of work into this sequel, and I am sure that those who played the first game in 1996 will absolutely love going back to this world and lore. I am happy to give this a score of 8/10, leaving room in my score for further content, more factions and a multiplayer lobby that is actually active.