Siege Survival: Gloria Victis – developed by Black Eye Games and FishTankStudio, published by Ravenscourt – plays exactly as the title suggests. However, unlike most games in the survival genre, you’re playing a purely defensive and supporting role as a group of surviving civilians. It’s a novel and interesting take on the genre, with a focus on the “small people” that keep the gears of the military turning. That said, it still blends crafting, scavenging, and tough decision-making mechanics, so your actions feel impactful. Unfortunately, it’s also a game in which the clock is constantly ticking, and that often highlights the more annoying micro-managing elements and clunky menuing.
Set in the low-fantasy world of Gloria Vitis, you control a small group of civilian survivors hunkered down in a besieged fort, facing seemingly insurmountable odds. The “Edring’s Last Stand” scenario, from the original launch, places you in a medieval town that has been upon by a band of Viking-looking warriors from the north. They butcher their way through the defenders and most of the population, leaving only a handful of survivors who fled into the fort. Help is coming but, until then, they’re required to keep both themselves and surviving soldiers in the bastion alive and in fighting shape.
In the new “Lost Caravan” scenario, you’re treated to a Crusades-inspired scenario that sees your ambushed survivors fleeing to a local fort, set upon by both the local occupying forces and the harsh desert environment. There’s a wrecked fishing boat that could be used to escape downstream, but you need to keep your civilian population and the surviving guards alive while gathering and crafting the components needed to repair the vessel.
The narrative often feels like an afterthought in survival games, but Siege Survival: Gloria Victis makes it an integral part of the experience. There are opening and closing cutscenes, and a small number of fleshed-out and named characters you either directly control or assist in battle. Recent updates have pushed the narrative element even further, with the introduction of dynamic events – short, choice-driven encounters that can occur during your time in the fort or scavenging in the surrounding area. They add some much-needed context to your actions, rather than just a list of demands. You can assist grieving survivors, help stock a hidden field hospital, retrieve stashes of supplies, or support the local population against the conquering forces.
Of course, the gameplay is still the primary draw and Siege Survival: Gloria Victis has a unique and engaging loop. In “Edring’s Last Stand”, the survivors spend the day hunkered down in the fort, managing supplies, crafting workstations or items, supplying the local bastion, and – when attacks come – avoiding projectiles, dowsing fires, and preparing for the inevitable flurry of requests from the bastion to repair equipment or send medical supplies for the wounded. Someone always wants something, and it takes time to scout and discover more civilian survivors to share the burden.
In the fort, survivors have a myriad of tasks that can be assigned by the player, and each has specific traits that make them better at certain tasks. They can rummage through ruined structures for basic crafting materials (an inefficient, slightly random, but safe alternative to scavenging runs). Build new workstations that allow for weapon repairs or crafting healing items. Feed the livestock and collect any produce. Gather food supplies and fresh water to stave off hunger and dehydration. Additionally, you still need to contribute excess food and water to the bastion soldiers.
When night-time falls – and this doesn’t take long with the days hurtling by – it’s time to assign new tasks to your survivors. The hands-off options include simply resting or scouting enemy movements, whereas scavenging in the city introduces unique mechanics. With the camera locked to your survivor, you need to guides them around the ruined streets in the dark, avoiding patrols, and stocking up your limited inventory with key crafting items or valuables for trade. Managing your noise level and avoiding vision cones are essential, as you alternate between rummaging and hiding.
To explore further afield, you need to find or craft tools, such as torches to burn corpse piles or shovels to clear piles of rubble. As you push out, you’ll find unique stashes, other survivors (some of which will join you at the fort), valuables for trading, and new shortcuts back to the fort. These are often player-choice events that might offer rewards at the cost of alerting the besieging force, which will up the number of patrolling guards on subsequent nights. With the right crafting stations and tools, you can attempt to take down patrolling guards but it’s typically better to scamper back to the fort when spotted. A lost civilian is a lost worker, something you can never afford given the tight time constraints.
The “Lost Caravan” scenario doesn’t drastically change up the core gameplay, but it introduces a few new elements and tweaks to freshen up the formula. Scorching desert days are your new scavenging hours, whereas nighttime is spent at the fort resting, building, cooking, and crafting. As you’re now tasked with restoring a damaged boat, the scenario is more about finding the optimal route to acquire or craft those resources, rather than simply surviving long enough for help to arrive.
The greatest change in the Lost Caravan is how scavenging is now relegated to daytime excursions that focus less on avoiding guards, and more on rapidly scavenging before the heat or sandstorms affect the health of your survivors. Finding food and natural materials seems easier but there’s a greater emphasis on preparing and stocking clean water, and forging metal and bricks. I found it a more compelling scenario than the original, thanks to the more vibrant daytime setting and more starting survivors.
Regardless of your scenario choice, Siege Survival: Gloria Victis is first-and-foremost a game about optimising your early build order and working within tight time constraints. Days pass quickly – especially if your civilians are working slower because of injury, hunger, or thirst – and poor choices are swiftly punished with a deteriorating situation that is difficult to come back from. Sure, this may make a lot of sense in the context of a siege scenario, but it means once you’ve determined the best course of action, every new game starts much the same way. There are limited supplies outside of the fort, the crafting your way to self-sufficiency is essential.
Given the time pressures, another element that’ll frustrate you is the need to micromanage survivors to an excessive degree. Individually assigning building and crafting tasks or deciding what you’re willing to give to the bastion makes a lot of sense, given the high resource cost. Fully controlling your survivor on scavenging runs, prioritising what you carry back to the fort given limited inventory space, also makes sense (though this activity becomes rote over time). However, your civilians will merrily starve to death, die of thirst, or succumb to injuries if you don’t command them directly. I feel this would be improved with player-defined toggles to automate this process to a degree.
Two other issues include a wonky camera and obscuring scenery when exploring the city, and the menu-driven system for interactions. The locked-on camera you get used to, but the menu system continued to frustrate me the longer I played. Every interactable structure has an icon, and that icon may be surrounded by several more “quick-build or quick/craft” icons, presumably to speed up the process. Instead, I simply found it cluttered the screen, obscured other crafting stations when they were placed near each other (and limited safe building space makes this a necessity). This often led to misclicks or the wrong item being crafted. Although slower, I preferred simply opening the primary menu and selecting what I wanted without the risk of mistakes.
When it comes to the presentation, the environments are both detailed enough to immerse you in, while still conveying all the information you need to place structures in your fort and avoid dangers when scavenging (albeit still with a reliance on a lot of interaction icons). Ambient noises – be that for the ruined city or windswept desert – are combined with an unexpectedly discreet soundtrack. It’s not the most technically impressive game, but still looks great coming from a small team and will run well on most PCs from the last 5-years (even at max settings).
Minor gripes aside, the updates to Siege Survival: Gloria Victis have improved the base experience, particularly with the addition of the new scenario, more dynamic events, and new games modes to tailor the challenge. You can simplify the economy aspect if you want to see the story through, tackle the challenge modes if you feel you’ve mastered your strategy, or try the “new game +” mode that gives you extensive control over starting parameters and the frequency of in-game events. If you’re a fan of the survival genre and are looking for a game that doesn’t just revolve around crafting makeshift killing implements, Siege Survival: Gloria Victis offers a novel and compelling experience. It places you in a support role but still forces you to make increasingly tough and impactful decisions to make under constant pressure
You can purchase this game on PC through Steam for £20.99 here.
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