Is Sengoku Dynasty Early Access The Start Of Something Special?

A feudal Japan simulator but without the samurai, Sengoku Dynasty Early Access is a third-person simulator/city builder on Steam.

If you are obsessed with all things samurai and swordplay, don’t play Sengoku Dynasty. However, consider this Early Access if you’re interested in an ambitious and engaging life simulator/city builder (albeit repetitive) and need a break from bushido.

I had the pleasure of playing an early edition of the game, and for all its early blemishes, I just knew that Superkami and Toplitz Productions’ latest would be something that would remain on the playlist for some time to come.

As a Japanophile (no, not one of those people on a list), I lapped up the chance to live Sengoku Dynasty Early Access and the Warring States but immediately realised that it wouldn’t be an open-world Bushido Blade. Likewise, while it’s close to Medieval Dynasty, it’s more like the recent Wild West Dynasty with its third-person perspective.

Sengoku Dynasty Early Access - Excessive Hammer Time joke
Excessive Hammer Time joke. Source: Steam

Sengoku Dynasty Early Access

Believe me, I would be hunting down all the historical inaccuracies, choice of words and whatnot like any nerd, but that was all put to one side the minute I found my chap shipwrecked. Within the first few moments, he had to locate his colleague, Aiko, construct a tent, then discover a local village and… you guessed it, build a legacy.

A lot of Sengoku Dynasty Early Access will be a grind with a lot of tree felling. In my early playthrough, I’d already experienced this and, for the most part, enjoyed the repetition of hoarding resources in the hope of building something new.

The tool system is quite unique in that you can build almost anything from the get-go with minimal fuss, the caveat being durability: some of these tools have the endurance of a custard cream dipped in a cup of tea. Not that kind of soggy biscuit, thank you very much. It’s not game-breaking regarding essential tools, so store a few on the go and go nuts on Mother Nature.

Sengoku Dynasty Early Access - Lobin Hood
Lobin Hood. Source: Steam

A Bit Wooden

Sengoku Dynasty Early Access looks like it’s made by period drama fans, and surprisingly, with minimal stereotyping. Resources are abundant, and cherry blossoms do grow on trees. To piggyback on the stereotypes, well, not so much, but perhaps expectations, this game doesn’t feature samurai. That I know of, thus far.

Following the development of this game for what seems like an age, I was always aware of what it was supposed to be, so by the time I played it, then, in this iteration with nice crisp visuals and improved UI, my expectations were met, but as this preview is being written after Johnny Public has got their hands on it, I see there are a lot of people unhappy about the samurai side of things, as well as some of the mechanics.

To put it in context, I’m the type of knucklehead that can get wrapped up in repeated actions such as tree-cutting and gathering resources. I love it. Equally, I found the presentation neat and slightly improved on the first unofficial release. The third-person aspect took time to get used to, and admittedly, the side quests can feel dragged out – but it is what it is: Early Access.

Sengoku Dynasty
Source: Steam

The Beginning Of A New Era?

Sengoku Dynasty Early Access does feature some so-so dialogue, however. It’s not on par with some of the tosh seen in Wild West Dynasty with the in-jokes, but sometimes the interactions with the villagers just made me want to live in isolation even more.

The AI is ok. Villagers will go about their tasks with relative control. So far, I haven’t encountered any glitches besides disappearing logs, awkward contact areas when chopping, or attempting to dig up a tree trunk with a shovel.

The placement of buildings is pretty accurate, but as you might expect of the time, the decor is a little drab, but as a minimalist who used to live in Japan (there’s my late entry point), it hits those notes with a little ‘less is more’. Am I likely to be playing this in the months ahead? Yes, but I have no desire to try out the co-op options. I hadn’t even tried to see if the option was there… For now, though, Sengoku Dynasty Early Access shows promise and could be the start of something special. 

Medieval Dynasty remains the strongest of the ‘series’, but Sengoku Dynasty might be one you want to note for those who prefer rice over potatoes.