Welcome to the Kingdom of Darkshine, my Lord. You’ve been tasked with rebuilding a crumbled empire left behind by feuding warlords, and you won’t regret it. Stormfall: Age of War is an addictive ride with an emphasis on player socialization, strategic PVP and a not-to-be-missed voice narrator.
Stormfall sets itself apart almost immediately by introducing the Kingdom of Darkshine through a rarity in browser-based games: a voice narrator. Sarcastic, witty, and charismatic, Lord Oberon serves as the perfect guide to building your empire. Not since Space Quest have I so instantly fallen in love with a narrator. The prolonged introduction was worth it just to chuckle my way through Oberon’s one liners and snark.
With an abundance of unlockables, there is no shortage of things to do in Stormfall. As an unfortunate side effect, the tutorial drags and feels a bit tedious. However, it is entirely necessary – as without it players might miss all the features this game has to offer.
Feats of Valor
Feats of Valor are Medallions that mark your achievements inside the game and are plugged as a way of building up your reputation as a fearless Lord. The Feats start off with basic assignments (Construct 5 Buildings) and gradually build into accomplishments that mark a player’s time and dedication to the game (Collect 10,000,000 Gold).
With six subcategories (including Construction, Military, and Resources) and up to twenty Medallions in each, the Feats of Valor offer much to accomplish and plenty of rewards. Some Feats even pay out Sapphires – the coveted currency of the game.
The Lost Arts
Like most games of the genre, Stormfall has a tech tree of unlockables for better buildings and army units. Here, it is disguised as “Discovering the Lost Arts.” The Lost Arts are uncovered by your Scribe after adding a House of Scrolls to your kingdom.
Once the initial Lost Arts are discovered, players will need to collect Ancient Scrolls to access the higher levels. Unlocking scrolls is time-based and takes about twenty-four hours of real time per scroll. They can also be traded with other players.
Some of the high-end Lost Arts require an entire collection of scrolls to unlock, so get ready to wait several days or do some major trading. Once all the Lost Arts have been discovered, players receive a 7% boost in iron and gold production.
Raiding other settlements can be a great way to gain resources. As a newer player, this can be a bold albeit dangerous move. Many people in the game have alliances. Attacking someone else, even a lower ranked player, may be like a deal with the devil: they’ll strike back three times as strong – if they have friends.
If your empire is attacked and you’re not one for fighting (or don’t have the resources of defend), you can attempt to bargain your way out of battles through diplomacy, trade, and aligning yourself with other powerful Lords in the game.
One huge downside to the battles: they’re not shown on the screen. Instead, the game spits out a pop-up revealing who won the battle and the calculations to prove it. This is one of the few areas where Stormfall falls short.
The graphics are standard for this genre: detailed but expectedly cliché. In fact, Stormfall looks shockingly similar to Age of Empires. The interface is simple yet extremely effective, especially considering how much there is to do in Stormfall.
The game features one of the better music scores I’ve come across. Drawn-out trumpets and heavy drums prepare you for battle, while the sweet Celtic undertones will make you feel like you’re at home in the Shire. Even after hours of gameplay, I felt no need to hit one of my favorite buttons in most games – the mute.
Stormfall requires three basic resources to build your empire: iron, food, and gold. These resources are required to create structures, discover Lost Arts, and build military units. Like most empire-building games, upgrading pre-existing structures ensures faster production of said resources.
You breeze through the game until level 30, where progression slows. However, several key features of the game unlock at these higher levels, like the ability to create Leagues with other players. As you advance, the single-player quests grow increasingly difficult but offer equally appealing plunder. The game also rewards Daily Loyalty, so the more days a player logs into the game, the more bounty they’ll receive.
Stormfall is an MMO with an emphasis on the second M: Multiplayer. The game heavily encourages you to make alliances with other players, form Leagues, and consolidate your power, making is a great game for those looking to play with others, especially their friends. Lovers of Game of War will feel right at home.
Stormfall never fails to remind you of this, however. The incessant pop-ups to Invite your Friends! Get Huge Rewards! are so frequent it borders on spamming. However, since the game encourages the formation of alliances, inviting some colleagues into the game in may be to your benefit.
Despite what most science fiction movies would lead you to believe, humans are more likely to retaliate than AI and the results are usually much more devastating. Strike out against one of your non-NPC neighbors and just like in grade school, he might return with half the playground at his back. Accordingly, Stormfall seems to go against the old cliché keep your enemies close. No, keep your friends much, much closer.
The multiplayer aspect isn’t without its drawbacks, however. The game lacks segregation between location and languages. When you don’t speak the same language as the player obliterating your kingdom, it makes diplomacy painfully difficult – if not impossible. Additionally, the location of your empire is locked in once it’s constructed and cannot be moved. Like the opening word crawl in Star Wars, your friends could be trapped in a galaxy far, far away.
Is it play to win?
Like most games of the genre, Stormfall is free to play but players can purchase in-game currency (Sapphires) with real life cash. Sapphires speed up city construction and are the only way to buy Imperial Units. Not interested in giving up some of your hard-earned dough? No problem. Players can earn Sapphires without spending a dime by completing quests, achieving Feats of Valor, and passing milestone dates in the game.
However, this process is dauntingly slow and Sapphires are needed frequently in higher levels to build defenses and speed up research. But those who enjoy the grind and don’t mind a gradual progression through the game may be able to earn enough Sapphires on their own without the need to charge their credit cards.
In an overcrowded genre, Stormfall stands apart. With plenty of unlockables and bountiful rewards, I could easily see myself sinking hours into this game with no regrets. From the introduction, it comes across a little more complicated than others of its kind, so it may prove to be very entertaining for the experienced gamer and a good challenge for newcomers.
Overall, it may be ideal for the players looking for a great time with friends or to meet new people from around the world. Gamers looking for a heavily social and battle-based game will be pleased.