Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV – Review
Follow Genre: Strategy (Hardcore)
Developer: Koei
Publisher: Koei Tecmo, Koei
Platforms: PC, PS4
Tested on: PS4

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV – Review

Site Score
Good: Nice music and graphics, good at making history fun.
Bad: Very poor interface with menus and little variation in gameplay
User Score
(1 votes)
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Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV is (like the title says, honestly!) already the 14th game of this series! Based on a visual novel from the 14th century, these games always focus themselves on the end of the Han Dynasty in China, between the year 169 and 280. It’s rather unusual for a series to get 14 games, so there must be something special about this. Right?


Right. Romance of the Three Kingdoms is such an influential piece of Asian literature that it inspired countless movies, other novels and manga, and games such as the Warriors series and this one. It follows the great rulers and conflicts of the time, where in part XIV you start around the year 190. The stories of these rulers and their actions are greatly romanticized (hence the name of the series and the original work) and are, in the game’s case, cause for drama, humor, and strong, unique characters. Who read or played anything based on the original piece will notice that names are recurring, making rulers key components with their own flaws and strengths, like Gods are in certain cultures. In part XIV, we mostly follow Liu Bei, a kind and compassionate ruler who is supported by two self-proclaimed brothers of his, helping him rule in ways that he himself is not able to.


There are three types of graphical components that Romance XIV is using. First, we have the map with moveable pieces. Clicking on each piece and setting a route for them plays rather intuitive, though sometimes the map gets a bit crowded and highlighting the right piece can be annoying. Other than that, the map looks pretty nice, especially the murky realistic water on the edges and more realistic looking land.

The second type of graphics is when the map zooms in during certain fights. These fights look a bit rough and are frankly rather poorly animated, but they are seldomly seen anyway. The third type of graphics is the drawings of the many rulers during conversations and the special effects that they trigger. These are detailed and come across as people with strong characteristics, thanks to the top-notch character design combined with the stories they have to tell.


Besides great original Japanese voice actors that support each playable officer, there is also some great background music. Orchestral, cinematic, and often like in a high budget movie. It greatly enhances the atmosphere and makes sure the game gets a certain feeling of excitement despite some boring bits. On top of that, there are some sound effects such as battling armies and flying arrows on certain locations on the map. It’s without a doubt the best that this game has to offer when looking at Story, Graphics, Sound, and Gameplay.


Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV is, like the prequels, a (hardcore) strategic game. You could, in a way, compare it to an in-depth and advanced game of Risk. The map is divided into certain areas from which at least one will be under your control. The goal is to govern what you have, expand, and complete objectives such as taking over the entire map. Since the game plays during the Chinese Han Dynasty before and after the year 190, a lot of these objectives are based upon real history. This is great if you like such ages and historical accuracy, but if not, you’d better stay away from Romance of the Three Kingdoms in general.

Not only historical accuracy has to be your thing, but also strategy and statistics. The way the game unfolds is by putting the focus on three main resources: Gold, Supplies, and Troops. Depending on how much you have of each, you can conquer lands faster, buy yourself some progress, and let your flock flourish under your reign. You can decide where the focus of each city should be meaning deciding which of the three main resources the city’s efforts will deliver and grow. There are multiple aspects where you get to make such choices: What to develop, who to believe, how to march towards an enemy in the most strategic way possible, but you do pretty much all by relaying orders to officers.

Officers are like key pawns in Romance of the Three Kindoms XIV. The more you have, the more you can do in one turn. All officers have their own strengths that decide how well they do in combat and governing areas. You can use them to command troops and march against the enemy, control villages and cities that you took over, and more. In a way, Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV is a bit of a puzzling game. Not only will it take (new) players a while to figure out all the options and what they can use to overcome a difficult situation, but they also have to decide what’s best in which situations when looking at the resources they possess. That this is an intense process is made clear by the tutorial that takes about two hours to complete (in four parts), and the overwhelming amount of options in your HUD. Especially the latter is actually suffering from bad design. Not only does it look tiring, but the number of menus hidden in other menus and such, and the fact that you sometimes have to double confirm orders and a bad button layout are all reasons why you could just not get passed the first hours of gameplay.

That being said, There’s quite a bit to do in Romancing of the Three Kingdoms XIV, including some pieces of the story to follow up in each campaign, but in the end, the game still feels a bit dull. A combination of Risk and moving pawn pieces around on a hexagon board has some value, and you get to be a great strategist, but it doesn’t really convene the difficult choices that a ruler came across besides making sure the accountant book would be in order and deciding the best war tactics. It’s a good strategy game, but besides a better UI design, it could have been better at presenting you with tough dilemmas or giving you in-depth battles to fight as you encounter an enemy. Such dramatic encounters are what most people grow to love in games like these, but instead, Romance of the Three Kingdoms mostly has a lot of moving, planning, and shouting officers confirming your commands.


Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV has some entertaining parts. It’s always a good game for the ”historophiles” among us, and the music and graphics actually give every player something to enjoy. However, the poor interface design and rather dull gameplay, which even for hardcore strategists must be a bit disappointing, just doesn’t bring enough to the table compared with other Romance of the Three Kingdom installments to make it really enjoyable.

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Rating: 7.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Romance of the Three Kingdoms XIV - Review, 7.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

I'm a game designer, developer, and reviewer. I've been reviewing for since 2017.

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