Stronghold

Good
  • Multiple game modes provide plenty of diverse game mode and content
  • Less focused on hard counters allows players to lean into the strategy they want rather than focusing solely on counters
Bad
  • Hard split between warfare and economic campaigns (particularly with the economic campaign unlocking second) forces a hard split on players
7.5

Stronghold is a real time strategy game developed by Firefly Studios that explores a historical game setting while challenging players to utilise all of options available to thrive in a century long past. Released in 2001 Stronghold is the first of many games in the Stronghold franchise with the success of this first strategy title leading to many sequels and spin off titles with some being equally successful.

stronghold-gameplay-castle

Given the time the game is set (Medieval Britain) was a period of war Stronghold has a great amount of focus on military aspects although still requires players to consider economic and infrastructure development mechanics to succeed. Starting from 1066 you’ll progress throughout the ages in a number of scenarios although with no set time limit players can draw out confrontations for hundreds of years.

For campaign scenario gameplay Stronghold puts the kingdom under your control as you take on the role of lord in order to create an economy capable of supporting the war effort against the various invaders you’ll come across. The campaign has you travelling the country side as you attempt to reclaim control of the kingdom one county at a time, ultimately defeating the four lords that oppose you and turning them to support players goals instead. This requires players to defend their settlements, destroy enemy castles that oversee an area of land and other smaller mission objectives between these larger conflicts.

stronghold-gameplay-resources

This military focused campaign is the core experience of Stronghold and takes place across a map of Wales and England where a king has been held for ransom by a nearby barbarian kingdom. Playing as a relatively new commander the Stronghold combat campaign presents itself as a rag to riches story where one gains invaluable experience with each battle victory.

Following this campaign Stronghold offers a secondary challenge through an economic campaign where you rebuild the kingdom against bandit threats. Not only is this shift fantastic from a gameplay diversity perspective but also explores the story often untouched in other strategy games about what happens after you win the war. Further content is available through single scenarios, a siege mode that challenges players to defend historical locations and a free build mode focused solely on building the best castle possible.

stronghold-gameplay-siege

Uniquely you won’t find a rock-paper-scissors style of combat in Stronghold with the game featuring no true counters unlike other strategy titles. Instead the combat system supports smaller counters and is designed in such a way to reward careful use of all units and heavily focused on having the better trained and upgraded troops which comes from a sound economic foundation. Troops you’ll be able to use in Stronghold include archer, crossbowman, engineer, knight, maceman, pikeman, spearman and swordsman.

In addition to physical units Stronghold also uses fire as a core game mechanic, drawing on how devastating a fire could be in medieval times which adds another unique element to the gameplay strategy and helps takes you back to the time where a lord in medieval England was the ultimate status.

Summary:

  • Battle focused real time strategy game and the first in a long running series of Stronghold games.
  • Reclaim and rebuild the kingdom one county at a time across two different campaigns of war and economy.
  • Stronghold HD version allows you to play on higher resolutions for a better gameplay experience.
  • Fire plays a real role in gameplay and is a constant threat to your troops, buildings and economic development.
  • Manage resources of food, wood, stone and iron as you develop a powerful army for defence and attack across game modes.

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Review Platform: PC

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Written by
Samuel Franklin
Samuel Franklin is the founder and lead editor of the Games Finder team and enjoys video games across all genres and platforms. He has worked in the gaming industry since 2008 amassing over 3 million views on YouTube and 10 million article views on HubPages.

Games Finder is a Steam Curator and featured in the aggregate review scores data of MobyGames and Neoseeker.
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