Plebby Quest: The Crusades is a strategy game developed by South Korea-based Pidepiper. As the name implies, it takes place during the medieval era of the crusades. It tasks players with selecting a nation and using their various resources and influence to conquer the map. Though simple at the outset, the strategy involved increases with each turn. Players must manage their citizen’s happiness, their political alliances, their religious standing, and many other roles of a medieval leader in order to bolster their nation’s chances in the struggle of war. The world’s stage is yours for the taking, but it’s far from easy to steal. Can Plebby Quest win the war against its fellow strategy games? Let’s find out!
Story- A Lackluster Learning Tool
Plebby Quest offers a story mode where players take on the role of a few specific nations. The campaign acts more like a tutorial, so it takes a backseat to the gameplay. Because of that, I had much more fun in the game’s free play modes. I would still recommend looking at the narrative before jumping into free play though. It can be difficult to sit through because of the poor grammar in the English translation, but it does an excellent job of teaching players the ropes. Even so, after three hours of tutorial filled with jokes that were occasionally funny, but mostly too cheesy for their own good, I dropped it before I was able to finish. It’s clear that the developers put more effort into the gameplay. That’s not a bad thing, because that effort they paid off. It just makes the story feel poor in comparison. Games about war can have great campaigns, unfortunately, this isn’t one of them.
Gameplay- Global Domination is Surprisingly Fun
Like I mentioned above, the gameplay is where Plebby Quest shines brightest. Aside from the odd fault here and there, the game seems as layered and intricate as actual politics. A particular strong point is that it takes place on a real-world map. Seeing the national boundaries as they actually appear on a map adds realism to the idea of being a world power. Fear not though, there are plenty of maps that make use of a hex grid system, allowing for a change in strategy. There are also three major categories of influence players have to manage. The economic, military, and religious needs of your nation take centerstage. Each has its own skill tree, allowing players to decide which one they want to prioritize. They each offer many options to improve how well your nation handles each aspect. The trees look complicated at first, but I found them to be very easy to follow as I spent more time with the game.
Because the main goal is to conquer the other nations on the map, the military advancements are perhaps the most important. They offer more combat options further you progress. The combat system starts off simple, just offering a few different types of troops. But the skill tree allows you to unlock extra movement options for battle, the ability to award medals to give your troops stat boosts, and allows you to further upgrade them. The more military options you unlock, the more layered and intricate combat becomes. Although some of the skills may have been better off being available from the start.
The gameplay loop does get repetitive, especially in the early turns when there aren’t as many options yet. One thing the game does well is to break those moments up by offering small minigames that can help your nation grow. Some tasks you can choose to take on reward extra resources or money based on how well you perform in small puzzles. I thought that was a great way to keep things interesting, allowing players to influence their strategy by learning the ins and outs of the minigames. This does offer a downside though. If a player finds the minigames too difficult, their nation may be at a disadvantage because of a deficit in recourses.
The game does have its share of missteps. I thought the number of save slots was sorely lacking. I really would have preferred having either more slots or less frequent autosaves. Autosaves happen after each turn, and there were a few times I lost complete campaigns after only a few turns of exploring a different game mode. The lengthy tutorial also bears mention. The main menu does offer an encyclopedia that teaches mechanics, but being hit by all the information at once was a little overwhelming. This is a game that requires a deep understanding of the rules to enjoy. So if someone skipped the tutorial, they would likely be completely lost. In addition to the initial tutorial, each campaign has some moments where they reiterate smaller introductions. This can be a good thing, refreshing players who may have forgotten some aspects. But I wish I could skip the refresher tutorials so I wouldn’t have to repeat them in each campaign.
Graphics and Audio- Cute, Yet Gutsy
I truly enjoyed the art style in Plebby Quest. The characters take the shape of little rectangles that hop across the screen to move. Even though they’re a simple shape, the artists create a distinct style in the way they fit the characters into the borders. When they animate, the sides squish down or stretch upward adding a lot of character to the simple shapes. I thought both the art and animation was cute, which is a nice contrast to the game’s themes of war and religious persecution. I also enjoy the way that the animation plays against the background. Since the game takes place mostly on a map, seeing the characters hop around gave the impression of paper characters moving against a paper background, sort of like the Paper Mario series or Bug Fables.
The music didn’t particularly stand out to me though. It offers all it needs by giving a fitting backing to the action of the game. The planning stages are accompanied by a track that feels like you’re preparing in the war room. A pumped-up battle theme gives the combat a nice boost. But none of these are tracks that stick in my mind. They’re hardly bad, just not memorable.
Plebby Quest: The Crusades was reviewed through Steam and a key was provided free by Neowiz PR.