Developer: Katauri Interactive
Release Date: 11/19/2009
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The Good: Pretty graphics, addictive and fun combat with varied spells, skills, and troops, many islands to explore, large unit variety
The Bad: Impossibly difficult early on, running around the entire world to restock is tedious, having to exploit the game and scrounging isn't fun at all, mediocre story
Armored Princess is a fairy tale game of a princess who gets sent back in the past to awaken Teana (mother Earth in a way) to help stop an evil force that will destroy the world. You are also trying to find a man named Bill Gilbert along the way who plays a key role. To awaken Teana you needs 7 stones that are scattered across a few islands. Of course this involves a few boss fights and many battles. Armored Princess is extremely difficult to the point that 90% of the people who play will uninstall it after you get off the first island. This game is brutal on any difficult other than easy and using the warrior class.
Battles are really fun and addictive...when you can win them
The problem with Armored Princess is that it requires too much grinding. For a turn based strategy this is expected, but this one goes way too far. You need leadership points to increase your mass unit capacity. Each unit requires a different amount of leadership. You also need gold to buy them, and the problem is this comes way too slowly. You either need to be able to level up quicker or enemies need to be scaled back. You run around the world in real time collecting things in between battles like leadership points, runes for acquiring skills, gold, units, scrolls, and other items. Some enemies roam around the world and some are blocking loot. You can right-click on the unit to see how you will fare against it. Enemies that are very weak compared to you will run away and you can end the battle by just letting them go. Enemies that are all the way up to invincible are impossible to kill. You need to level up and acquire more powerful troops. Sounds simple right? Not at all.
The problem started after leaving Debir, the first island. I was killed very quickly no matter what strategy I used. You can buy more units but they are in limited stock. Once you buy them all out that's it for that location through the whole game. You have to wander around the islands finding stores that sell these. Most units are pretty useless such as horde units. You can have over 1,000 but each unit only does 2-3 damage. They also get killed very easily and are just a waste of gold. So, I found myself running around exploiting the game trying to scrounge up what leadership points I could find, scrolls, gold, and anything else I could get. This is not fun one bit. I don't want to inch up behind a roaming enemy just to get 70 leadership which can get me one lousy unit. Even if you find all leadership flags on every island it isn't enough. You have to level up and buy equipment to get a lot of leadership. At one point you can fly around which means you won't run into enemies, but you can only travel to other islands by your ship.
Exploring the islands is pretty boring and uneventful
Battles are really fun and addictive and that is what kept me going. All the units are very unique with awesome abilities. You also get a dragon that sits off on the side of the battlefield that can use it's abilities. You also have a spellbook that allows you to cast one spell per turn. Enemies move around the hexagonal grid and attack. You eventually learn what units are good against others. The more units you have stacked the more damage they do. Yellow numbers are overall damage total and the red are the amount of units in that group that has been killed. It feels great when one of your groups can knock out a large one from the enemy. There are things that block parts of the grid off that you have to walk around, as well as neutral obstacles that will attack the troops or give them passive defensive abilities. Battles are just so much fun and become really addictive, but how you level up your character and choosing the right troops are key to winning.
That is if you win any battles at all at one point. Being forced to do side quests to level up to earn leadership and gold is just a real pain. Several times I wanted to give up because it was so unfair. I would wipe out all the armies that were equal in strength to me and lower. I would level up a bit, scour the islands for weaker enemies, rinse and repeat for 50-60 hours. It does get tedious and boring after a while because this is all you do. When you finally level up enough to get stones you feel like you are finally making progress. In all honesty, 1C should have just made you a bit more powerful and allowed you to level up faster or something. The whole scrounging thing was just insanely annoying and difficult. It doesn't help that if you run from a battle you lose your entire army. If you are wiped out you start off at Debir castle with a few lousy units. What if that one powerful unit was the last at that store? Where am I going to find another one? Who knows. There are dozens and dozens of stores spread out and that one powerful unit could be anywhere.
One of the many extremely difficult boss fights
There also aren't any extremely powerful troops overall. They only become powerful in quantity. There are troops that you can only have a few of like Red Dragons, Ancient Ents, Ogres, Golems, and other large troops. I wanted to see a few one unit troops that were extremely powerful. The troop availability is also random so you never know what you are going to get. I just found going from island to island after each battle to restock just got tiresome.
The story itself is mediocre with the typical text-based fairy tale adventure of elves and orcs and dwarves. You won't remember the story a year from now, but it is entertaining while you are playing. I just with this game wasn't impossibly difficult because it makes it not fun. Most people will result to cheating using the console command to acquire levels and leadership. When you get to a high enough level the game is fun, but until then you will struggle and probably quit.