"Life is Feudal" Review
by Jake Krajewski | published Feb. 5th, 2015
When I fist saw the trailer for "Life is Feudal," I was rather excited. Highly customizable crafting, combat where damage is assessed based on where you're struck and the ability to build enormous networks of tunnels enticed me. However, what I ended up with was a bit less awe-inspiring.
The issue with "Life is Feudal" is not the game itself. The controls work well, the skill system rewards hard work and it does feel rewarding when you finally unlock the ability to build things. The problem is that it is a game built to be played with several people. Unless you have friends to play with you, you may not have such a great time. The skill system is set up to encourage each player to follow one path and work with the other players. For example, an architect would lack the ability to mine for the metals and stone needed to build houses, so he would need to work with a miner if he wanted to get anything done. Additionally, there is a separate skill set for hunting and fishing, meaning another person is necessary to keep people fed.
Skill leveling takes an extraordinary amount of time. Skill levels rise through doing things associated with them; chopping down trees will improve your lumberjack skills, catching fish will improve your fishing and hunting skills, etc. However, skill levels rise slowly, meaning it takes a lot of repetition to unlock new abilities. I spent half an hour snapping branches off of trees before I was even allowed to use my axe to chop them down. You are given many skill points to distribute when you first create your character, so you are given an opportunity to unlock some second-tier abilities right off the bat. However, very little explanation is given to you when you first invest these points.
The gameplay itself is well-made, and once you unlock your second set of skills, the game moves much faster. To unlock architecture, you need to reach a certain level in your lumberjack abilities. By the time you're able to build a house, you have about enough logs to build a few simple huts. The problem is, again, the fact that advances in some skills require help from other skill trees. I was unable to unlock any blacksmithing or weapon-forging abilities before writing this review, as those were final-tier skills. Even if I had, I have no friends that have "Life is Feudal." As such, I am unable to give any insight to the game's combat mechanics. From what I learned from the trailers, health is measured in both soft HP that recovers over time and hard HP that requires some kind of medical attention to repair. Additionally, specific parts of your body can be injured, leaving you with broken bones and the like.
"Life is Feudal" has an enormous amount of potential, but it is simply not designed to be a single-player game. Unless you have friends who intend on buying and playing the game with you, I suggest waiting to purchase it. As of now, the game is in its Alpha, so there are likely more features and skills that will be unlocked in the future. Hopefully the skill sets will be tweaked to allow more friendly single-player gaming.