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Hotly anticipated medieval strategy game hits mixed-review morass

Bellwright just launched into Steam Early Access and it's having a tough time when it comes to reviews, with only 52% coming in positive.

Hotly-anticipated medieval strategy game hits mixed-review morass: A combatant in Bellwright wearing a full helm strikes downwards with savage fury.

If you were making a big medieval drink and your ingredients included city building from games like Manor Lords, survival elements from games like Valheim, and the in-depth open-endedness from RPGs such as Mount and Blade, you’d end up with a cocktail by the name of Bellwright. This ambitious strategy survival RPG mashup has been eagerly awaited and having just launched into Steam Early Access, it’s rocketed up into the top ten best seller list. Unfortunately, not everything is looking rosy for the medieval sim, as initial reviews are pointing to a mixed rating on Valve’s platform.

Bellwright at its heart contains an utterly intoxicating idea. Instead of keeping the action at arm’s length like many strategy games do, you’re immersed in the game on the ground alongside your villagers and warriors. Starting out as a pure survival game before expanding in scope to become a city builder and full Mount and Blade-esque RPG simulator, it’s a game that holds a ton of promise. That’s before we even touch upon aspects like it containing an in-depth backstory and the ability to choose how much of each of the game’s mechanics you engage in.

That promise has also caught the attention of many out there, however, the reviews are coming in and despite this being a Steam Early Access title, they aren’t very charitable. The majority of the negative reviews simply point to the game not being ready yet. “This game still has a way to go. It is not very intuitive in its menus. Graphics aren’t great and can feel a bit clunky. I am holding out some hope for it. But it is tough to play right now,” one prominent review says. “I would give it at least another upgrade before jumping in.”

A misty scene in Bellwright where the player character stands in a rustic village, with birds flapping overheard.

Another key point of contention is the game’s usage of AI voices for its NPCs, with many seeing this as breaking immersion. That said, developer Donkey Crew has committed to removing AI voice overs from the game, stating on X (formerly Twitter), that it intends “to replace them with proper voice actors when the dialogues and storyline is done.”

Finally, some negative reviews are coming in due to a perception of issues surrounding the developer’s previous games. In particular, some reviewers are accusing the developer of moving on from its previous title, Last Oasis, to work on Bellwright instead, leaving the game unfinished. This idea of abandoning a project has soured some in the community, with the Steam discussion forums becoming a battlefield between those enjoying the game and others who have firmly set their stalls out against it.

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If you’d like to make up your own mind up about Bellwright’s launch into Early Access, you can head over to the Steam page now to check it out.

Should you instead wish to play other games set in this time period, our guide to the best medieval games will soon get you travelling back through the ages. If it’s survival that has you seeking some gaming joy, our best survival games you can play on PC guide will see you right.

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