Songs of Conquest: The Marsh Provides and So Does Lavapotion

The Marsh Provides. The Marsh Brings Life

Songs of Conquest: The Marsh Provides and So Does Lavapotion
Source: Press Kit.

Let me start by saying that I've been waiting for this game for a long time. On the one hand, I've been waiting since 2019, when I first heard rumblings about Songs of Conquest, a spiritual successor to the Heroes of Might and Magic games of yore. The other part of me has been waiting since 2002 before Ubisoft bought out 3DO. From that point, there was a significant shift away from Heroes of Might and Magic's winning formula.

Source: YouTube.

Heroes of Might and Magic and its fandom haven't gone away, but you wouldn't have guessed that from the onset. In the same way, a swamp looks dark and unmoving, so does the fandom of this twenty-year-old series. But, upon closer inspection, you'll find a community teeming with life. You can buy the series on Steam or GoG and play it without a hitch on a modern computer, unlike many older computer games. Additionally, you can find a wide array of user-made content and modifications that can enhance or entirely rework the affair, from custom maps to fan-made expansions. The Heroes of Might and Magic community is still alive and thriving!

A Marsh is a complex place with a life cycle distinct from forests and grasslands. By the looks of it, a marsh is an unwelcoming place, but yet the marsh brings life. Turn-based games, in the same way, continue to thrive. While the turn-based genre may not turn heads or often attract big headlines, it does seem ever-present. Always lurking somewhere in Steam's "top 100 games being played" statistic. Heroes of Might and Magic fans lay dormant, as creatures do in swamps, waiting for a reason to emerge from the black waters. That reason is finally here, as Songs of Conquest was released into Early Access on May 10th, full of marshes to conquer.

Source: Steam.

Sweet, Sweet Saturation

If I could sum up Songs of Conquest in one word, it would be saturation. This excellent game is teeming with color, sound, story, and song, luscious and sparkling with magic. Visually, the game blends 2D sprites, 3D environments, and volumetric lighting like a painter who combines layers and textures on a canvas. The game's style reminds me of the Impressionist paintings, the way their visible brush strokes of color and play with light.

Every frame looks like an intriguing screen saver, desktop background, or art in a gallery-- something you want to admire, or even a place you long to visit, or maybe somewhere you've been in a dream. Songs of Conquest has that dreamy quality that catches your eye.

The musical score is an offering to the temple of sound. It explores both the familiar bright tones of fantasy as well as songs with less expected and throaty intonation. A score that takes you on a journey deep into the forest. We start our walk in the outer reaches of the woods and then make our way into that inner sanctum of nature and the mysterious 'essence' that resides in all things.

What is most notable about the Songs of Conquest score are the songs used to accentuate the campaign levels. They are impressive and sharp bardic tunes (sung by designer Carl Toftfelt) that explain and move the narrative forward. Clever and full of energy, these pieces bring us closer to that distant time when songs and word-of-mouth were the primary forms of entertainment. In good times and bad, songs led the way, from drinking and working songs to funeral dirges. The addition of these ballads draws us into the story and, in turn to our more ancient selves where story and song elevated words and gave them power.

Source: Steam.

The gameplay takes unique risks, most notably by attaching the magic system to the units you control in combat. This tie-in makes choosing an army build more meaningful to the types of spells you wish to cast. Specific spells call for a higher level of one kind, while other spells require a blend of multiple magic types.

It adds a flavor to the gameplay and to the kinds of units you choose to command. This system puts more value on low-tier troops and tries to steer players toward those units by giving them unique buffs, abilities, and magic types they can contribute.

Conclusion and The Secret Ingredient

Songs of Conquest is a masterclass in worldbuilding from the small team of adventurers at Lavapotion. From the contributions of cartographer Marc Moureau to the spellbinding composition of Reynir Helgason, this game overflows with love.

One of my favorite quotes, which I think of often, is from the former late-night host, Conan O'Brien. On his final sign-off, his departing words were,

"It's not easy to do, but try. Try to do what you love with the people you love. And if you can manage that, it's the definition of heaven on Earth."

The game's world map. Source: X.

Lavapotion and their work Songs of Conquest are a testament to that statement. This game is a slice of video game paradise; you can feel the passion put into every part of the experience.

Songs of Conquest stands on the shoulders of its predecessors. Instead of trying to be the game they love, it rises above. Without flying too close to the sun, Songs of Conquest offers something fresh to a long-beloved and often overlooked genre. Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do! I sing praises to this indie triumph.


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