Pendragon - Arthur goes up against Mordred
Games,  Review

Pendragon Review

For Arthur! Camelot has fallen, and things are not going so well for Arthur. Guinevere is dead (or so he thinks), and Mordred is coming for him! Fortunately, Guinevere isn’t dead and, even though she’s had an affair with his best friend, she still loves him, well, maybe, that decision is up to you. Even still, regardless of whether she loves him or not, she is loyal to him and is ready to help him in the fight against Mordred.

Pendragon tells the story as a turn-based strategy game, which some have likened to chess. It is also quite story-rich with a little bit more information being provided with every move we make. Start as Guinevere or Lancelot and begin your journey over treacherous lands with threats from both man and beast.

Gameplay

Each playthrough of Pendragon is randomly generated based on the decisions we make. Initially, we can only play as Guinevere or Lancelot, but as we progress, more starter characters are unlocked. Each character starts in a different place, so the story changes each time; you may never even see the other main characters in a playthrough.

Map of Pendragon full of lush mountains
Map of Pendragon full of lush mountains

Trek through a lovely map to get to your next location. Each location conquered opens up a few possibilities of where to head to next. When you arrive at your chosen destination, you’ll need to play through a grid system with differing tile options such as high ground and water. Each tile type gives different advantages and disadvantages, e.g. high ground lets you move in any direction. Your team also have different abilities, some have special abilities from the beginning, while others are gained when new decisions are made. Use these abilities to make it to the exit without being attacked or mauled.

In my first playthrough, I was mauled by a bear within 10 minutes, but it helped me learn. With every subsequent attempt, I got better and made more progress than the last. I even triumphed over Mordred at least once! That being said, I haven’t progressed difficultly levels. I am a bit scared to increase it.

Guinevere progressing to the exit is stopped by a dog
Guinevere progressing to the exit is stopped by a dog

If you’re a more courageous strategy player than me, there are multiple changes to gameplay that can be made. Different characters and difficulty levels can change an entire playthrough. As well as the decisions you make on a journey.

If you’re feeling weary after a day of hiking and fighting, hopefully, you’ll find yourself in a safe area where you and your party can spend the night telling stories. There are many fireside stories told in Pendragon (though you can also skip them), which don’t really add anything to the story but are interesting nonetheless.

Art and sound design

The map, level and character design in Pendragon are lovely. With a stained-glass art style and bright, bold colours, you could almost forget the dreary scene. There is a lot of rain in Pendragon, but at least it sounds nice.

Does Guinevere love Arthur or not? That's up to you!
Does Guinevere love Arthur or not? That’s up to you!

The soundtrack fits the game perfectly, though there aren’t too many songs. The first time I loaded up the game, I loved the soundtrack, but after hours playing, it felt a bit repetitive. It is well composed with a lovely mix of instruments (especially the horns) but would be even better with a bit more variety.

Summary

I have enjoyed playing Pendragon, even though I don’t know much about Arthur and Camelot. For those that are, I bet you would love this game. Occasionally I felt like it was too chatty, but that should be no surprise. The team at Inkle are known for heavy dialogue and story-rich games. The stories are the most lengthy pieces of dialogue, but you can skip them if you’re not feeling up to a fireside story.

The strategy component of the game was fun, and I wanted to keep playing to unlock characters and make it to the end. It never felt too difficult (though I was only playing on the easiest difficulty), and there always seemed to be an option to avoid death. I imagine that won’t always be the case if you change difficulty, but it’s great to have the choice.

If you’ve read my review on As Far as the Eye, you’ll know I am only just starting on turn-based strategy games. Pendragon is a great place to start as it doesn’t have the huge learning curve that other games may.

Want to know more?

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Genres: turn-based, strategy, roguelike
Platforms: PC (Steam, Gog and Epic)

** Find The Strawberry received a free key for Pendragon from Emily Morganti and Inkle. All opinions are my own **

2 Comments

    • Kalliste

      I need to read up on the legend, so I have a better understanding of how it all got to this. The game is lovely though and doesn’t really need the extra info to enjoy.

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