Anvil Saga was one of the games that caught my attention during the most recent Steam Next Fest. It is established that I really enjoy pixel graphics games, so how could I pass the opportunity to try this one out? I have to say that a part of me wasn’t entirely sold out on the game… However, they say to not judge a book by its cover. I’m glad I didn’t because I absolutely adored this game and I can’t wait to share my impressions.
So, without further ado, let me tell you more about Anvil Saga!
Anvil Saga is currently available in Early Access on PC for € 12.99.
Story – I Am Nothing But A Humble Blacksmith
In Anvil Saga—a management sim with RPG elements—you play as Arthur, a young, passionate blacksmith who is trying to restore his father’s smithy shop in France to its former glory amidst the Hundred Years’ War. where you take control of a blacksmith shop amidst the Hundred Years’ War.
Running a smithy business is no joke, you’ll have to deal with local bandits, lords, (annoying) priests—as well as French and English soldiers—while simultaneously managing your workers, improve the look of your shop (and living quarters) with better decorations in order to raise your fame and basically get better-paying jobs.
Before we delve into the gameplay, know that you’ll have the possibility to choose between Story Mode—which is what I’ll be sharing my impressions on—and Sandbox Mode, where you pretty much have free reign with some random quests but no storyline.
Gameplay – Building The Smithy Of My Dreams
We’re now in Story Mode, and the game has a clever way of incorporating the little bit of background story that we’re given into the tutorial.
I’m glad that it’s pretty straightforward, it tells you where to click, whether you’re learning how to smelt ore to make ingots, crafting something, or even using the Build Menu.
Once you’ve covered the basics, the story has a 13-year gap and that’s where the real game begins. Gone are the days of being just helpful, it’s time to get your hands dirty… literally. You have a blacksmith business to run, after all.
Getting Down To Business
At the bottom left corner of the screen you can find your stats. Make sure you rest and feed regularly, otherwise not only you will suffer, but your business as well. Being exhausted means you’re going to make mistakes on the job, and if you make mistakes on the job, your customers won’t be happy. And if they’re not happy, you will not gain fame, which you need in order to expand your business and get better-paying jobs. It’s a whole vicious cycle which, trust me, you don’t want to fall into.
However, you can’t do everything yourself, and you’re going to need some help. You will initially get offered the choice of hiring an apprentice, which, in the long run, will be a godsend. If I can give a little piece of advice, just remember to think about the big picture: where you are and your end goals matter. Just like in real life, you don’t want to put all of your trust on somebody who will just leave you in the end, right?
As expected, the Story Mode follows quite the interesting storyline, as you’re preparing to eventually face your rival, as well as try to get the woman of your dreams to fall in love with you.
Alongside your regular customers—who will ask anything from nails, to horseshoes, and clubs—you will also have story quests. These quests come with choices, so you need to be very careful. Luckily, Anvil Saga gives you a very brief pointer of what outcome a particular choice can have, and the percentage of success of obtaining that outcome.
I also must remind you that the storyline will be altered according to the choices you make, and what seems to be a good choice now, may not pay forward later. Therefore always remember to keep the bigger picture in mind.
People, Life Events, And Taxes
In your life as a blacksmith, you will encounter all sorts of characters, may it be angry old ladies who will curse at you raising their fists a-la-Breakfast Club, or lovely bards who will play an harmonious tune as they wait for their order to be completed. And then there are different people, who will ask you for special orders to be made.
I actually genuinely laughed out loud for how pleasantly surprised I was when these characters appeared. I have to give big kudos to the developers for introducing such funny cameos. *PS: these are not the only two people you will receive orders from, so I would strongly suggest playing the game yourself and see who else you’ll encounter.
Being a blacksmith in Anvil Saga can’t be too easy, so you’ll get thrown some random events that may—or may not, who knows—affect your business. Make sure you’re stocked up on materials and prepared for any inconveniences.
Speaking of inconveniences, there’s this little thing called taxes, which you are supposed to pay. Right from the very beginning, you will receive visits—it may be some royal officials, or the Church—and you will be asked to pay taxes. Now, it’s entirely up to you to decide if you want to pay them. They will come back no matter what. But I dare you to click the thunder button and see what happens… *insert evil laugh*
Time To Iron Out The Kinks
Being a game in early access, Anvil Saga had a couple of bugs that I’ve encountered during my gameplay of the Story Mode. One was really just a glitch, where part of a dialogue reappeared a couple of times even after I’d moved on from that conversation and was dealing with someone else.
The other was quite the bummer because it kind of affected my gameplay. At some point after upgrading my stall, I was able to construct the Library room so that I could read books to improve my craftsmanship—since I kept receiving orders that I wasn’t able to accept because of that one book I hadn’t read yet. However, after placing the furniture required for that room, the room remained empty and I wasn’t able to complete my orders.
The last thing I’ve encountered may be a bit of a spoiler, so please continue reading at your own risk! Although I’m not entirely sure it was a glitch or part of the gameplay—since this version contained only the first 20 days in Story Mode—on the eve of Day 20, the game stops. This alone is not a big deal, as that’s what you sign up for in the Early Access version.
However, I was halfway through the very last timed quest—which was to save up 300 gold coins to go to the fair—and, even though I had my apprentice and still enough time to save money, Arthur interrupted the quest saying that it would have been nice to have some extra help at the fair, and that he’d wished he’d save up more, but it was time to head to the fair and he had to make do with what he had.
Like I mentioned, this wasn’t particularly a massive deal, but it would have been nice if they didn’t happen, since they left me a bit disappointed.
Audio & Visuals – Nothing Better Than Some Good ‘Ole Medieval Tunes
Anvil Saga is a game set in the Middle Ages, so it wouldn’t be one without the addition of some very lovely medieval tunes. The musical aspect was very fitting and relaxing, and it made me enjoy the gameplay like I was supposed to. However—as weird as it sounds—music wasn’t what made the audio experience entertaining for me, the addition of sounds was. Starting with the loading screen—the blacksmith groaning in pain from hitting himself instead of the anvil was absolutely hilarious—the array of sounds (the cursing lady and the bard I mentioned earlier, operating the smelter, or crafting some nails, to name a few) perfectly complements the music, and I strongly recommend using headphones so you can immerse yourself in the noisy harmony of life in medieval France.
The visual aspect in Anvil Saga is really pleasing, and the animations were—in my opinion—well balanced with the rest of the designs. There’s always something moving (it would be weird if the rain was still, wouldn’t it?) but it wasn’t distracting at all, and I was actually looking forward to seeing what would be next.
I’ll be certainly keeping an eye on the progress for Anvil Saga, as it ended on a cliffhanger and it left me with so many questions!
Anvil Saga was reviewed on Steam with a key provided by HeroCraft PC.