Lords and Villeins – Review
Follow Genre: City building simulator
Developer: Honestly Games
Publisher: Fulqrum Entertainment
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Lords and Villeins – Review

Site Score
Good: Addictive and elaborate gameplay with surprisingly varied mechanics
Bad: Underwhelming audioscape
User Score
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Once again we’re casting our gaze towards a game that slipped under the radar when it originally launched. After an extended Early Access period, developer Honestly Games’ city-building sim Lords and Villeins officially debuted way back in November of 2022. That definitive release date didn’t mean that the game itself wouldn’t get any more support. On the contrary, Lords and Villeins has received several content updates, and we saw the recent arrival of the Artisan update as the perfect opportunity to finally take an in-depth look at this deceptively cute city-building game.


There is no real narrative present in Lords and Villeins, perhaps apart from what you create yourself. The game starts out simple enough, with you taking on the role of lord of the land and picking the right spot for your first family of medieval villagers to settle on. Their homestead will become the starting grounds of a hopefully thriving village. After a while, you construct an inn, which will attract more visitors to the area. These might decide to live there as well, providing both population growth and new professions. More professions means you can expand your economic activity, but it also means more mouths to feed, so you’ll expand further, drawing the attention of even more families looking for a permanent place to settle. You probably get the gist at this point. While you do get to name each and every family if you want, and can watch them go about their daily lives, you won’t be playing Lords and Villeins for the story. It’s a rather hands-off approach, and if you want to control every aspect of a family’s life, you should probably play The Sims instead.


Although we liked the pixel-esque art style that Lords and Villeins had to offer, it was difficult to see the game’s visuals and not constantly think of Stardew Valley, at least in terms of aesthetics. The game doesn’t look like a carbon copy of ConcernedApe’s farm sim, as the villagers take on a more chibi-like appearance, but the game’s atmosphere definitely feels similar. That’s not a complaint, although we do think that the cutesy visuals belie the game’s surprisingly deep and challenging gameplay. That said, there is a tremendous amount of potential for customization here, and the game definitely capitalizes on this. The state of your buildings is reflected by how they look, and each upgrade brings along shiny new visuals as well. Moving on from a filthy hut made of mud and hay? Well, your new and improved shack isn’t just more functional but it looks a lot prettier too! It’s easy to get lost in customization as you’re fiddling with tiny furniture or adding stained glass windows, to the point that we’d highlight this as one of Lords and Villeins’ standout selling points.


If there’s one area where Lords and Villeins falls a little flat, it’s in its soundscape. The lack of voice acting can be excused, given that this isn’t a narrative game, but the soundtrack and ambient effects did little to excite us. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Lords and Villeins’ audio, but nothing particularly memorable either. This is perhaps an area where Honestly Games perhaps also should have taken inspiration from Stardew Valley.


From the get-go, it’s clear that Lords and Villeins isn’t your average city-building sim title. There’s the medieval setting of course, but what sets the game really apart from others in the genre is the sheer amount of things to manage here. Apart from things you’d typically expect, like managing village layout, resources, and economy, you’ll also be tasked with keeping an eye on family relationships, religion, animals, and the impact of seasons. Your ultimate aim is to build a thriving settlement where every one of your villagers contributes to your economy while also living a happy and satisfactory life. There is a wide variety of occupations that your villagers can take upon themselves, from simple peasants to merchants and clergymen. They all bring something different to your economy, but they also have specific needs. The game doesn’t feel historically accurate, in the sense that you’re incentivized to build a thriving community, rather than exploit the lower social classes, but this takes a lot of time and resources. Of course, you’d want your villagers to live in actual houses, rather than improvised huts, but it’s not a matter of simply magically making a house appear. You need to put in the work yourself, setting up everything from sourcing the necessary materials to having the right kind of workers in your village, like a carpenter.

One thing that is essential to keep in mind when setting out to create a medieval village from the ground up, is that you’re going to have to spend an enormous amount of time on it. Lords and Villeins is a slow burn, and even the tutorial took us nearly an entire day to complete. Yet despite how fleshed out and ambitious Honestly Games’ take on a medieval economy is, Lords and Villeins never feels overwhelming. The game gradually introduces you to its many systems in the tutorial, but some of the more in-depth mechanics aren’t covered. Fortunately, these simply click into place intuitively as you spend more time trying to figure out how to deal with a resource shortage. Things gradually become easier once you find your footing, but it’s likely that you will struggle during the opening hours. We even found ourselves wanting to restart the game once we figured out the mechanics so that we could build a village the “right” way on our second attempt. It’s a testament to how addictive Lords and Villeins truly is, because even when our first try didn’t feel satisfying, we simply wanted to give the game another go rather than ditch it for Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening or The Guild 3.

We should point out that Lords and Villeins is devoid of combat, as this might be something you’d be expecting given the medieval setting. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any death here, as there still is in-fighting and a particularly harsh winter may claim lives as well, but the focus is economic growth and city building. Fortunately, those systems are more than intricate and elaborate enough to keep you occupied for dozens, if not hundreds of hours. Don’t be afraid to be late to the party as well: not only is Lords and Villeins getting periodical updates, but it has a thriving and helpful online community as well, and plenty of resources to consult to make sure you are planning your village in the most efficient way. Lords and Villeins isn’t a perfect game yet, and there is still plenty of room for improvement here, especially when it comes to pacing perhaps some in-game explanations could have been fleshed out a bit more. Looking forward, however, it does seem like Honestly Games is still looking at making the game consistently better. If we had known about just how good this hidden gem is, we would’ve gotten stuck in a lot earlier, and we can’t wait to see what the future brings.


We can’t tell you how much Lords and Villeins has evolved since its official launch back in November as we missed out on that, but we can absolutely recommend the current version of the game. The visuals look great but they don’t give the right impression about how intricate the mechanics are, and the audioscape is probably the most underwhelming aspect of the game but the gameplay more than makes up for either of these minor shortcomings. Yes, the game expects you to put in actual work, but seeing what you put in come to fruition is just so very satisfying. Just don’t get lost designing a cutesy medieval mansion while your peasants are starving.

VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:R_U [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Lords and Villeins - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.