Songs of Conquest review

by on May 20, 2024
Reviewed On
Also Tested On
Release Date

May 20, 2024


Songs of Conquest is a pixel art RPG/RTS hybrid from Lavapotion that’s been in early access since 2022. If you’re in need of a frame of reference the Spellforce series makes a pretty good touchstone, as Songs of Conquest offers a similar story-driven adventure focused on player-controlled heroes and their entourages traveling the land, righting perceived wrongs with fire and steel.

There are four campaigns to choose from in Songs of Conquest, each following a different protagonist in a different part of the world, where characters, themes, and events overlap to create an overarching narrative and flesh out the world itself. The first one I tried was the story of Cecilia Stoutheart, a ruthless and determined heiress who returns to her ancestral land to find it on the brink of civil war and beset by mercenary companies enforcing someone else’s rule. In a Game of Thrones-style narrative, Cecilia sets out to reclaim her birthright. Playing as Cecilia is pretty awesome too, given her no-nonsense attitude that has just enough soft edges to make her merciful and backable. There are no choices in the narrative though, which is surprising given the way most conflicts end.

Songs of Conquest

I also played through the story of Rasc, a freed frogling slave who raises a rebellion against his former masters. Again, the main character here is compelling and above all likable, which helps to carry you through the admittedly superb campaign. The two years in access have done the world of good for Songs of Conquest, allowing Lavapotion to balance the difficulty almost perfectly. The bulk of the game isn’t the combat, though, but rather the exploration of the world. Each campaign features an element of city management, as you reclaim hubs and then build outlying buildings to establish footholds. Buildings like farms, watchtowers, and taverns can be constructed on vacant plots, allowing you to bring in resources and hire more soldiers.

Grand armouries and academies are raised to research new inventions and better weapons and tactics, while you explore the gorgeous pixel-art world with your chosen hero, or heroes. Each character you control has a number of slots for active forces, which you can recruit in taverns, barracks, or at certain nodes out in the world. Combat is grid and unit-based, as you command your forces to flank, harry, and ultimately defeat the enemy.

Songs of Conquest

Fights can be auto-resolved if you’ve enough of an advantage, but there’s not much fun in that. The combat in Songs of Conquest is so satisfying and crunchy that it’s worth investing in every time. You’ve a mix of melee, ranged, and support units, and a suite of spells you can cast that grows each turn. Most of the spells are buffs or debuffs, but knowing when to use them is half the battle. Both sides advance by turns, and most attacks will trigger a retaliation, which adds depth and tension to what you’re doing. Spamming moves will also damage you, in most cases, so it’s best to think and plan. You can also make use of obstacles both natural and conjured, such as explosive barrels, barricades, and even walls.

Between combat encounters, you use your turns to investigate a smorgasbord of nodes, points of interest, places of power, buildings, towns, secret groves, and hidden treasures. There’s so much to find here that it never gets old, and you can equip weapons and gear you find to boost your abilities and those of the soldiers who march with you. You grow stronger simply by exploring, which makes it worth doing every time.

If there’s a failing in Songs of Conquest it’s that it seems to assume that even newcomers will simply intuit everything. It explains very little in real detail, and throws a lot at you in a short time. For example, I’d built several marketplaces across a few different missions before I even realised I could use them to trade in resources, and unusually had enough stock that I didn’t really need to use them anyway. It almost feels superfluous in a game that’s so tight and uncluttered in every other area.

Songs of Conquest

Outside the campaigns, a fully realised sandbox mode allows you to play with or against friends, or simply go head-to-head with AI factions to achieve victory through dominance. You can alter many of the parameters to suit you, too, and even remove AI opponents altogether and play it like a pseudo-creative mode to chill and explore in – though there’re usually still monsters on the overmap.

Aesthetically speaking, Songs of a Conquest is simply beautiful. The pixel art is incredibly well-detailed, colourful, and rich, with each campaign setting maintaining its own visual flavour. Combat animations look great, too, with a meaty impact to your attacks and simple but effective visual flourishes to spells and special attacks. It also looks and runs very well on the Steam Deck, in case you want to take it portable and play it on the go. There are no noticeable drop-offs in visual fidelity or performance on the handheld, either.

Songs of Conquest

On top of all of this, there’s also a map editor, which lets you create, customise, and populate your own campaign settings and share them with the community. You can also opt to play community-made content in the sandbox mode for even more variety. I’m not much of an artist or designer, but the map editor seems fairly easy to use at a basic level, and complex enough to keep the advanced user busy too.

For aficionados of RTS/RPG hybrids or turn-based adventures, Songs of Conquest is an absolute must-play. It’s gorgeous, and well-written, with enough meat on the bones of all four campaigns to create a decent overall package that also comes with a comprehensive map editor and sandbox mode to keep you building and sharing with the greater community long after you’re done with the stories. In a year that’s slowly being dominated by indie releases, Songs of Conquest is a stand-out hit.


Combat and exploration are great
Looks incredible
Well written campaigns
Comprehensive map editor


Doesn't always explain its mechanics well

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

In a year that's slowly being dominated by indie releases, Songs of Conquest from Lavapotion is a stand-out hit.