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Movie Reviews

The Sims Medieval Was Better Than You Remember

The Sims Medieval was a game that passed many Sims players by when it was released back in 2011, which is a shame because it is a quite entertaining and distinct Sims game. The Sims Medieval was similar in gameplay to the Sims Stories games such as The Sims Pet Stories or The Sims Castaway Stories but using The Sims 3 engine. Imagine for a moment if the Sims and Dungeons & Dragons had a baby; that baby would look a lot like The Sims Medieval.

Visually The Sims Medieval was a vast improvement on The Sims 3 thanks to the subsurface scattering that the developers added to the Sims models to give them slightly more realistic faces. Although the game had its fair share of bugs at release, the unique gameplay offered more than made up for it. What should have launched its own franchise was unfortunately abandoned by EA, and The Sims Medieval ended after only one expansion, unlike The Sims 4 many expansion packs. Yet the game continues to have a strong fanbase within The Sims community and is still worth playing even 11 years later.

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When first opening The Sims Medieval, players are treated to Patrick Stewart narrating their role in this beautiful fantasy land. Players are the Watcher, a godlike figure who has returned to aid the Sims of this world. To do so, the player will use Hero Sims to complete quests and build up different Kingdoms.

In The Sims Medieval, the player controls ten Hero Sims, each with a different profession in the Kingdom. These professions offer individual gameplay styles and ways to complete the quests. The first Hero Sim players will create is the Monarch, the ruler of the Kingdom. The Monarch is the King or Queen and is involved in many of the quests. They can go on hunts and fight in duels, and even when they aren’t the Sims being directly controlled often still play some role in the active quest. Some Hero Sims have professions that involve mini-games to complete their daily responsibilities. These include the Physician, the Kingdom’s doctor who can create potions and cures as well as collect herbs and leaches, the Blacksmith who crafts weapons and armor, and the Spy, the crown’s secret agents who craft poisons and torture people – yes, actually torture other Sims without mods.

Religion plays a big role in The Sims Medieval, with two of the Hero Sims being Priests. After building each of the churches, players can send out the Jacoban or Peteran Heros on quests. Each church is different, with the Peterans being all about peace and love while the Jacoban faith promotes fear and control.

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The other Heros are the Knight, the guardians of the Kingdom who specialize in combat. The Wizard or Witch are spellcasters who mostly work for the betterment of the people. The Bard can entertain the Kingdom through poems, plays, and the lute, and finally, the Merchant, the expert trader selling their wares.

The gameplay of The Sims Medieval is more like a linear RPG than a typical Sims game, as the quests explain to the Sims player what is needed, and players work through quests to complete Kingdom ambitions. An ambition is the overall goal the player chooses for that Kingdom. Ambitions include things such as having all ten Heroes above a certain level or getting a particular score on at least 16 quests. Completing ambitions unlocks further ambitions and adds to the Watcher achievement level. Leveling up this unlocks content such as new hairstyles, clothing, and decorating items.

Quests are used to level up Hero Sims, advance their Kingdom, and complete ambitions. These operate similarly to The Sims 3: Ambitions job objectives or The Sims 3: World Adventures activities. Quests are randomly chosen each time the player opens up the quest menu, although players can use cheats to re-roll or show every quest by using “rerollQuests” or “ShowAllQuests” in the cheat bar.

Quests impact The Sims open world Kingdom currently being played by influencing the four aspects: security, well-being, culture, and knowledge. The levels of these aspects change how the Kingdom behaves, such as plagues with low well-being or lower prices at the village shop with high security. When an aspect drops too low new quests become available to help fix the problem.

What made The Sims Medieval fun and different was the unique gameplay that was more story-focused than other Sims titles. Each Hero Sim played a different role meaning there were multiple ways to complete a quest depending on which the player chose. With the Sims’ needs trimmed down to just hunger and energy, it meant more time to focus on gameplay rather than need management.

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The Sims Medieval managed a brilliant blend of more realistic Sims graphics mixed with the typical Sims cartoonish look for the Sims and the world. Characters are much better visually than the potato-looking Sims in The Sims 3, and some items and scenery in-game are genuinely beautiful. Although there was no building in The Sims Medieval, that isn’t necessarily bad. The lack of building upset some Sims players, but not everyone is an architect capable of making beautiful houses. The buildings are more like doll houses, which can cause some camera issues, but by not having flat areas for players to build on, The Sims Medieval was more creative with its terrain, making the Kingdom feel more realistic.

One of the best parts of any Sims game is creating a Sim, and one of the best parts of The Sims Medieval is that it is impossible to create a perfect Sims. Each Sim has just three personality traits, one of which must be a fatal flaw. These fatal flaws are a lot of fun and impact gameplay, meaning the fatal flaw chosen for a Hero Sims will change how they act and perform on quests. The quest system itself guided players through the various goals and stages. This was a massive improvement from the design seen in The Sims 3. The Sims 4 adapted and updated this system with goal-oriented social events and now with scenarios.

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The Sims Medieval was a wonderfully creative and ambitious Sims game, and it is such as shame that it never reached its full potential. An update could have allowed players to choose between playing quests or playing a more traditional Sims family in-game while in a medieval setting. Although unlikely to happen, an update to The Sims Medieval would be fantastic and could expand the gameplay allowing for expanded households and different life stages.

The Sims Medieval was not without its flaws and could, at times, have bugs and glitches like all Sims games. However, it continued the early Sims game’s quirky and darker sense of humor, which has been somewhat lost in The Sims 4. A sequel is unlikely to happen since many Sims players overlooked this great game when it was first released, but 11 years later, The Sims Medieval remains a fantastic game, and new players continue to discover it.

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