Today I want to talk a little bit about Mount and Blade, a game released in 2007 by developer TaleWorlds Entertainment. This is a masterfully crafted, albeit janky, Action RPG. Yet, it’s not really fair to call it just an Action RPG. It is one of the most fully realized simulation games I have ever played. The scope and breadth of this game is almost unreal. This is one of those games that has the diversity of character choice nailed to a tee since it’s not bogged down by choices and dialogue. The gameplay in itself is full of stilted animations and the like but it still somehow manages to feel satisfying. One of the best feelings is riding alongside your horde of men towards an equally staggering foe. Charging down a hillside as arrows rain down from above, your men falling besides you like flies, yet you still push onwards towards victory.
Mount and Blade, unlike any other game, captures the chaos and brutality of combat in a time when men fought against one another with steel in hand. As you begin the game, the intimidation that comes with being a lone knight traveling the countryside is genuinely terrifying. At any moment, Bandits can come up upon you and strike, making it a challenge to keep them off of you. Every battle leaves your character battered and struggling. But as you rise the ranks, the size and stakes increase and soon you’re commanding hundreds of men to fight alongside you in the heat of battle. It’s chaotic and frantic, which means that it’s doing its job.
I’m a big Action RPG fan. One of my favorite guilty pleasure games of all time is Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. I must’ve poured over 130 hours into that game. Divinity II is another that I loved. Action RPGs are easily one of my favorite genres. It combines some of my favorite aspects of games: rewarding combat along with leveling and experience. It’s funny, I acknowledge that I’m a big sucker for games with experience points and leveling because it gives me some hardcore nostalgia of playing Dungeons and Dragons. Yet, Mount and Blade isn’t like these games. It isn’t high fantasy at all. There’s more strategy and simulation aspects. It throws together one of my favorite genres, the action RPG, with something that I don’t think any other games has really been able to accomplish: a truly dynamic world. Calradia feels real. It feels lived in and populated. Technical limitations aside, the game world feels organic, and that’s not something that can be said about most other games.
If you’ve never checked out Mount and Blade, I’d highly recommend it. It’s $19.99 on Steam and even has a demo that will give you a taste of what you’ll experience. I love Mount and Blade, it might not be for everybody but it really scratches an itch for me.