After fourteen installments across countless gaming platforms dating as far back as 1985, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms video game series stands as one of the longest running franchises in gaming history. Yet despite that fact, you’d be forgiven for not having come across the series previously. While it is a genuinely popular franchise in Asia, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms series has always struggled to find an audience in the Western world.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV is perhaps best put as the culmination of the entire franchise up until this point. The strategic gameplay system is damn near perfected after all these iterations, and will provide strategy game fans more than enough to sink their teeth into. The game requires a lot of thought and focus in order to do well, proving to be a hardcore strategy gamers delight. That said, if you are in the market for something of a more casual experience set within the Three Kingdoms historical setting, perhaps you’d be better off exploring the spin-off series Dynasty Warriors, a casual and friendly hack-and-slash series.
The game is of course based upon the legendary Romance of the Three Kingdoms historical novel; however, if you are looking to experience the stories and historical figures of that novel, this may not be the best avenue to explore it through. The dialogue is rather poorly composed here, and the story elements are not conveyed in a very compelling manner. The game is instead primarily focused on the strategic gameplay elements, which is honestly a strategy game fans delight.
The level of nuance and detail put into the gameplay is phenomenal. Unlike other strategy games, the path to victory and conquering the kingdoms doesn’t lie simply in amassing the greatest army; you will need to grow strong economies, engage in diplomacy, and manage your entire kingdom to prosperity. It is a great game for those with a mind for management; however, it may be a rather dull experience for those who want something more fast paced and action orientated.
The series has somewhat struggled to conquer the Western world, largely due to its limited target audience. The game is really best served for strategy game fans, or those with some level of interest in Chinese history. The lack of mainstream audience however hasn’t held the series back from success, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV proves to be another solid entry in the long running series, delivering all the strategy gameplay delights fans have come to expect of the series and with a fresh coat of paint. While it may not be the best way to experience the stories of the Three Kingdoms, it is a superb strategy game with incredible detail and nuance in its gameplay that will provide countless hours of entertainment for those who are interested in this genre; those who aren’t are better off looking at the series’ spin-off franchise Dynasty Warriors to scratch their Three Kingdoms itch.