Disciples III: Renaissance
Try as I might, I can’t think of a reason to play Disciples III. This Russian-developed strategy title mashes up concepts from a handful of games that are dear to my heart, and yet fails to sculpt them into a worthwhile whole.
Like Heroes of Might & Magic, Master of Magic, Age of Wonders, or almost any fantasy strategy game, Disciples III has players commanding armies on a large overworld map and diving into tactical battles when those forces clash with enemy troops. Taking control of strategic points grants dominion over resource-generating nodes and other useful map features, while prevailing in battle awards experience points to heroes and troops along with equipment and consumables. Disciples has more RPG in its strategy than most of this niche subgenre, with heroes advancing along Final Fantasy-like upgrade boards and generic troops progressing through several tiers themselves.
None of this is compelling in the slightest. It’s as if all the necessary components of a fantasy strategy title were mixed together with no vision for what the final product should be. Upgrading your Squire to a Knight, which requires a significant XP investment and a new building at your home castle, gives passive boosts more suited to equipping a new piece of armor. Hero skill points grant such exciting powers as 2 strength or 3 movement. Most units have no special powers, and the ones that do are so good that you want to use them every round. The tactical AI is terrible, so battles are turgid slogs through thousands of hit points with little variation. The strategy layer holds no interest either, with a bare few mobile armies on any given map and more awful AI offering little challenge to your garrisons.
Disciples III is pretty enough, but it doesn’t take long to figure out that there’s no soul behind the enticing façade. With how well classic turn-based strategy games hold up over the years, there’s no reason to buy a new game just for the sake of having something made in 2010.