Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 23.07.2016

Review for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII on PC

Romance of the Three Kingdoms has been a very long, very storied, series with many chances to improve having been given to it. With twelve games under its belt already, and at least one spin-off title in Nobunaga's Ambition, the game seems utterly primed to shine. Does this game, focused on strategy, role-playing, and diplomacy, hold the depth it needs to truly stand out, though?

There are many ways for a game to stand out in the strategy genre, especially the turn-based version. A game where things can be seen upfront, yet can hold a plethora of depth such as Civilization can come off vastly different from a more diplomatic game such as Crusader Kings II. Where does Romance of the Three Kingdoms lie in all of this, then? Well… it is certainly deep, but it also raises the question of if said depth is actually of worthwhile value or is simply redundant.

Taking place in the Warring Kingdoms period of Chinese history, it would be difficult to ignore the many similarities it holds to Nobunaga's Ambition. Even if they are mechanically different, both hold fairly similar 'feels' to them that showcase their status as sister-titles. That being said, however, the two are vastly different.

Screenshot for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII on PC

There are two distinct main modes of play. The first, 'Hero Mode,' does its best to follow the classical story laid out in the saga, detailing the conflict between the three kingdoms with the player being able to act as all sides within the conflict. Conversely, the second mode allows them to take up arms as a smaller nation eager to survive in the midst of the three kingdoms, with their own custom-made officers.

Unlike Nobunaga's Ambition, however, a heavy focus is placed upon diplomacy as things such as building inter-personal webs of contacts and friendships, debates, and so-forth hold a larger sway than mere combat. Battling itself is much more different as it follows a set-up closer to the Total War series, with controlling various squads of troops on a map, directing them about for proper control, seizing control points, and so-forth.

Screenshot for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII on PC

Ultimately, though, there is something slightly annoying while playing. Why? Simply put, after playing Nobunaga's Ambition and hearing about how wonderful and how much better the Romance of the Three Kingdoms releases are supposed to be in comparison, to play a game that simply feels on-par with it, set in a different time with different mechanics but with the same feel, ends up feeling slightly underwhelming. It has become a victim of its own hype and the over-obsession of its fans. This will be Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII's biggest hurdle to overcome.

That, to those whom are only now tapping into it on Steam because of Nobunaga's Ambition, much of the adoration will seem unwarranted, while long-time fans will, no doubt, either praise details that will seem obvious or denounce seemingly trivial aspects. While this does not speak of the game itself, it does highlight a problem. To some the differences are not as big and the game will provide a similar experience even with the differing mechanics.

Screenshot for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII on PC

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII is on the same level as Nobunaga's Ambition through and through. After playing both, it feels intriguing to continue and try and get better, successfully providing the 'one-more-turn' feel of many good strategy titles. The focus here will be more on the diplomatic and strategic side than the economic and expansionist side, but the feeling still comes off as the same. Some looking for a more diplomatic and potentially deeper experience will enjoy this outing, but those that did not like Nobunaga's Ambition are unlikely to be drawn into the fold now, even if it is distinctly better. With that said…

Screenshot for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII on PC

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

There is nothing wrong with Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIII. Just as before, for those new to the genre, it will be a daunting order made more so by the increased diplomatic focus, yet to those whom are already initiated, it will be a pleasing game to curl up to for those looking for a more action-focused, and less family-murdery, Crusader Kings II. Either way, it will be divisive, but its quality also undeniable.

Also known as

Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13


Koei Tecmo


Koei Tecmo





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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