Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV (PlayStation 4) Review

By Ian Soltes 12.06.2022

Review for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV on PlayStation 4

Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a popular series that most gamers are aware of to some minor degree, and Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV is brought to Playstation 4 by Koei Tecmo. The time-period explored in game is as important to the people of China as the Sengoku Jidai is to the people of Japan or the Revolutionary War to Americans. Full of warring factions the series lends itself easily to the concept of a turn-based strategy game. The sheer number of named characters from both the book and actual history and the plethora of diplomatic intrigue, stories, and military conquests make for an engaging setting, but how does the latest installment in the series fare?

Players are put in charge of a city; each city provides an income of gold, supplies, and troops every turn and holds sway over a number of surrounding hexes. Officers are individually appointed as an overseer for an area whose stats will help build the cities up. A good officer for overseer duty can easily be a terrible military leader and vice-versa. Development happens over a number of turns or 'months', with each turn having a strategy phase for giving commands and also an advancement phase in which those commands are carried out.
Here is where the first sign of stagnation arises. When it comes to recruiting troops, not only does a recruitment officer need to be assigned but an additional officer is needed to train the troops and increase their morale. While this is not an inherently bad level of micromanagement, this comes off as needlessly complicated compared to more refined systems easily found in other games. Even something as simplistic as allowing for the construction of specialized buildings, smoother and more generalized appointments, and more direct troop upgrades would have been a welcome addition and is found in similar series. Some military buildings can be constructed by a deployed army but this is something armies, not cities, do and is relatively minor compared to what could have been accomplished with a more traditional city management system.

Screenshot for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV on PlayStation 4

A city's hexes do not automatically fall under the control of a faction when they take the central city. Instead, they must first deploy an army and march them across the terrain. Certain formations can speed this up by offering a wider spread at the cost of power and extra troops. There is also a command which automatically marches the troops over an area to conquer it. While this option is nice to have, it must be questioned if such a system should even be needed in the first place when the whole issue could easily be resolved by having all hexes under a city's jurisdiction simply fall under control once owned.

Screenshot for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV on PlayStation 4

Likewise, combat is extremely frustrating in how underwhelming it is. It features no interaction with two armies meeting each other and fighting it out. While there are some tactics to deploy such as cutting off an enemy supply line prior to engagement, the lack of even a simple clash cinematic of two opposing generals fighting is majorly disappointing.
The primary issue with Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV is not that the various mechanics and systems within it are non-functional or incapable, but a little bit of work and reconnaissance on other titles would have yielded far superior results, more streamlined systems, and more player engagement overall. It is confined in what it could excel at due to the limitations of its own mechanics. The graphics are fine for the genre and nothing stellar in the slightest but are also fairly generic and mundane. The story is one that is well known with little room for new takes. The gameplay is largely stagnant with only minor innovations or reason to recommend it over similar titles and, frankly, the game lacks an overwhelming hook to it.

Screenshot for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV on PlayStation 4

The closest thing it has is its focus on the more political and inter-personal relationships between characters, diplomacy, and government. The systems strive to make it so that the various interactions on both the domestic and military front play out as a mixture of inter-personal relationships. The generals leading an army are not simply units but people with a series of relationships, responsibilities, and quirks, and compared to other games this interplay is about the only aspect distinct to Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV. On that basis recommending this game boils down to if one values such a political inclination over the more refined and modernized systems of other games in the same genre.

Screenshot for Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

It would not be fair to harp on a series for sticking to a formula that works; however Romance of Three Kingdoms XIV seems to eschew innovations in its own series for stagnant and cumbersome gameplay effectively for no reason other than to remain needlessly dated. While the improved focus on politics is certainly a positive which may elevate the title for some, it will likely hold little more than niche appeal for others who hold little interest in in the personal engagements of the Three Kingdoms period.

Developer

Koei Tecmo

Publisher

Koei Tecmo

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

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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