Going Medieval - PC Preview

Going Medieval
by developer Foxy Voxel and publisher The Irregular CorporationPC preview written by Hayden with a copy provided by the publisher.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

What is it:

A medieval-themed colony builder where players start from a few stragglers to become a region-dominating power over time.

Going Medieval is the first game from developers Foxy Voxel, and is a bright, easily-approached colony builder that takes cues from the successful features of earlier games in the genre. The developer’s description of the game is “Stake your claim in this colony building sim and survive a turbulent Medieval age. Construct a multi-storey fortress in a land reclaimed by wilderness, defend against raids, and keep your villagers happy as their lives are shaped by the world.” At the time of preview, the game was just over a week into Early Access, and the developer’s blurb really does capture the essence of the game at this point. Nearly a dozen hours into the game, this Early Access title has been delightfully stable and free of visible bugs so far, and a treat to explore.

The game provides a good selection of options when diving into it for the first time, with a modest set of difficulty options clearly delineated as the default setup which are easily tweaked prior to launching into the world. In-game tutorials are handled by a series of short, clearly worded pop-up dialogs the first time a player performs an action, clicks on menus or unlocks some of the basic production items, and are handled in a way that likely wouldn’t be overly intrusive or aggravating for repeat players. Camera controls can take a bit of getting used to as the game uses a layer system to show/hide elevation levels in addition to standard pan/tilt/zoom/scroll options. After gaining a bit of familiarity with the game, however, it becomes extremely apparent why this layer system was added to the camera controls, as it allows the player to precisely access the desired floor of multi-story buildings and mines.

The core gameplay here is to use your starting settlers to provide food and shelter for themselves, while gradually researching additional equipment and production options. Food can be gathered from around the map, grown in various farms, or wild game hunted and butchered. Wood, clay and stone shelters provide a mix of durability and thermal regulation (yes, hot summers and freezing winters will affect your settlement), and careful planning of rooms and buildings can provide bonuses to production speeds or shelf-life of perishable foods.

The map uses an elevation system that splits terrain into clear ‘steps’ rather than smooth slopes, but this works nicely to simplify building as everything built on the same plain will have their floors in exact alignment, making it easy to modify, merge or split buildings and rooms. Settler activities are handled via a grid of job priorities that the player can rank per-settler from 1-5, with the ability to also select a specific settler and tell them to prioritize one action immediately. Over time additional settlers will arrive via event dialogs, often giving the player the choice whether or not to accept the new settler and clearly laying out any extra consequences that may come with it. For example, a new settler may be an escaped slave from another settlement, and accepting them into the player’s village will prompt an attack by the former owner.

This brings us to the next danger-factor for the player: hostile factions exist in the game world that range from desperate bandits to religious zealots, and angering them will result in direct attacks on the player. Foxy Voxel has done an excellent job of automatically scaling the difficulty of these attacks with the player’s progress, however, so while they always feel like a threat they aren’t an insurmountable problem on their own. If the settlement has been mismanaged and settlers are already starving or exhausted when an attack arrives, however, the player might find themselves in dire straits indeed! To defend themselves, the player can avail themselves of a variety of medieval defensive tactics: ditches, walls and traps provide static defences, while swords, axes, polearms, bows and crossbows provide firepower and a variety of armor types offer a mix of defense and speed debuffs that the player can choose from to protect their settlers and repulse invaders. A word of warning for aggressive players though - your settlers can die in combat, and additional settlers can be slow to arrive, so be careful who you put in harm's way!

Going Medieval is extremely playable in its current state, but some aspects do show that planned features have not yet been released - not surprising for a game that just entered Early Access. Developer Foxy Voxel has provided a link to their development roadmap directly in the game, and many of the items listed look like they will provide welcome additional depth to gameplay as the player progresses through multiple years in-game. For example, a regional map showing other nearby settlements (friendly and hostile) is accessible in-game and displays the player settlement’s influence, but doesn’t yet have a clear purpose. Based on the roadmap there are intentions to add trade and interaction with other settlements (among many other items), so players will have to wait and see how this is fleshed out over time.

The graphics in Going Medieval use a refreshingly bright palette, making a nice contrast to many other games on the market that portray anything medieval as dim, dingy, dirty and overwhelmed by hard-to-differentiate earthy browns and dingy greens. Settlers are always visible, appearing as a shaded or white outline when on a different layer than what the player is looking at, or hidden behind a wall in the current perspective. This is quite a nice touch, and makes it much easier to see what is going on when a settler runs into a building and down a flight of stairs into the basement - players can still see what they are doing without having to constantly flip up down floors to track them.

Lots of other visual cues are present in the game that help alleviate the need for text-based tooltips and heavy information menus: pie-chart-shaped progress icons show over working settlers and production equipment, with color coding showing the difference between collecting materials and actually producing items, for example. Projectile weapons in combat will have a brief trail showing trajectory when fired, in addition to ‘hit’ or ‘miss’ text pop-ups to make it clear what the outcome of the shot was. Status effects like whether or not a target’s armor was too heavy to pierce also show as easy-to-decipher icons that pop up when they are hit, and the list goes on.


Overall, Going Medieval is an excellent option both for players looking to try the colony-builder genre for the first time and for experienced colony builders that are looking for a new challenge. Clear, crisp graphics and well-presented information makes knowing what is going on easy to grasp, and a measured introduction of new concepts keeps the player engaged while their settlement grows. Developer Foxy Voxel has done a great job incorporating and balancing threats from environmental factors into the core gameplay, and their automatic scaling of attacks by hostile factions means that players should always feel threatened without feeling overwhelmed. This is a solid offering, and well worth adding to your Steam library even this soon in the Early Access process.

Score: N/A