Just shown off at the PC Gaming Show, Lakeburg Legacies is a medieval management game that lets you interfere with the love lives of your villagers. There are buildings to erect and resources to covet, but at its heart it's a social sim that tasks you with becoming a meddling matchmaker.
"We want the focus to be on the inhabitants, on the people who live in the city we are managing," says Ishtar Games CEO and creative director Matthieu Richez. "We want the player to know each inhabitant by name, by their specialty, by attributes, and we want to create little stories with these inhabitants. The economic part of the game is small; it's a pretext to play with the little inhabitants of the city."
If you want to go down the pragmatic, efficient route, you'll be pairing up couples based on their social status, traits and stats in an attempt to make power couples who will help to improve your kingdom. You can send them on dates and then, if they're not a match made in Heaven, spend some hearts to give them a boost, pushing them together. Romantic! And then you'll be rewarded, eventually, with children with traits tailored by you, giving you more effective pawns.
"Like in a Crusader Kings type of game, you want to have the best legacies for your children and your different families," says Richez. "We want to have this kind of board game part—some way to optimise things and get the best score at the end of the game. But we also want players to create little stories and dramas between their inhabitants."
You can let characters follow their hearts, like a duchess falling for a farmer, or sow a bit of chaos by creating unexpected matches. Expect a bit of soap opera drama as events pop up and create romantic speed bumps—some based on anecdotes from the team's own love lives. Couples will break up and people will cheat; maybe you'll be the one creating the split, pairing them up with other people when you decide your city needs a change.
Lakeburg Legacies isn't beholden to the medieval setting, so same-sex and straight couples are treated in the same way and both can have families. Same-sex couples can also mentor children, passing on traits that way. Children are born with some traits, like legacy traits that are passed down through the generations, but there are also social and behavioural traits that start off hidden, appearing as you get to know the character. Matchmakers will have to look beyond the couples they're setting up, then, and consider the long game. Parents can pass on dormant genes that, when paired up, create a trait. So their kids might not get the desirable trait, but if you eventually engineer a romance between them and some other characters with the dormant gene, their kids will get the benefits.
Alternatively, you could play as Cupid, setting up people who are good romantic matches instead of just good for the kingdom. "Maybe they follow their love, so they will be more happy in life," says Richez. "So you brought some chaos into the organisation of the city, but you have a happy parent and a happy family." If you're ruling over a kingdom full of ecstatic people, you're probably doing all right.
Even with love in the air, you've still got to look after your citizens' other needs too. Management game denizens are a feckless bunch, after all. If you don't keep them fed and clothed and generally happy, their output will suffer, and illicit buildings will start to crop up, like thieves guilds. When faced with an invasion of crime, you'll have to add a character to the building, effectively sacrificing them, which will stop it from causing more crime and lowering global morale.
There's also a class system that, while sort of reflecting social status, has more in common with RPGs. Every character can be every class, of which there are three: peasant, trader and noble. A level 5 noble could still be a level 2 peasant, and while their primary class is the dominant one, the secondary classes mean they can be slotted into other buildings if you desperately need what they produce.
"I wanted to give some freedom in that system for the player," says Richez. "You can put a noble primary class into a farming building, but you really get a lot of morale problems doing that. So the player can do these little experiments. Maybe they can punish a noble character they didn't like and put them in the farm."
Appropriately, nobles lounge around generating prestige but not much else. They're not building or making anything, so why not put them to work in a bakery or out in the fields? You'll still be wanting that prestige, though. The current end goal is lasting for a set time, maybe 100 or 200 years, and producing the most prestige points. There aren't any other kingdoms, though that's something being considered for DLC, so until then you're just doing it for bragging rights. OK, so maybe that's not a good enough reason to let the nobles have an easy life.
You'll be able to punish the lazy nobles when Lakeburg Legacies appears in early 2022.