Majesty Gold HD is a title where the player does all the behind the scenes work while the heroes get all the fame and glory. It's actually kind of strange that way. However, if there was anything that could be said about the game, it’s that it has a lot of good ideas. Majesty Gold HD, (which will be referred to as Majesty HD from now on) is an odd little game. It's not especially different from other RTS titles on the market, as you build a base, complete the objectives, and move on to the next map/quest. However, the way that it's done is different enough to make things interesting.
The first mechanic that really stands out is that the units are autonomous. The Dungeon Keeper influence is clear in Majesty HD, although I haven't played Dungeon Keeper enough to do anything but point out the immediate similarity between the two: that they are both fantasy titles that have units running around mostly autonomously. That also begs the question: Who isn’t at least somewhat interested in a game that has you running a medieval fantasy nation with autonomous AI units? Me, to be honest, although that opinion has now somewhat changed.
Majesty HD has a single player campaign that almost belies the term. Every quest is introduced by a narrator that sounds like a really happy Sean Connery, which is both amusing and unsettling. Besides the introduction to the quests however, there is no real storyline, only just enough information is given so that the player knows what they are doing. The objectives aren't really creative either: one quest has the player searching for a specific evil lair amongst a half-dozen that are strewn about the map. It's either search and destroy, hold out for X, or find X. As such, I wouldn’t call it a campaign, but a collection of missions that teach the player how to play the game and eventually play against others if they so desired. It does its job, but don’t expect anything but a new scenario for the increasingly difficult quests.
Majesty Gold HD is deceptively easy at first. There aren’t a ton of buildings to build, but the placement and further management of them is essential. In a game where you cannot control your units, you have to strategize. Should I place this building here? Should I build another wizard or someone who can take more than one hit? Should I just build another tower? It isn’t as though that this game is incredibly nuanced and deep, but there is more to it than meets his majesty’s eye.
As previously mentioned, you cannot control the units. This is what the game revolves around, since giving players control of the characters would end the game in about ten seconds. It can be very annoying to watch the AI controlled characters wandering around the map and doing everything but the objective… at least until I discovered that if you can double-click on something and set bounties. Pretty sweet, and it made the ‘Beginner’ missions that much easier. Just click on the objective and win, right? How hard could this game be? Well, that depends.
The gameplay itself is fine. Not great or bad, just fine. The earlier missions were so easy that they were boring, and the later missions usually had me running around so frantically that I was just trying to survive - as if the game wouldn't allow me to be put in a position where I could get bored. Essentially, you usually start off with a lot of gold and a couple of buildings and your Palace, which gives the player a head start to frantically build up the rest of their base before it gets slammed by foes. However, before that happens, you build a bunch of other buildings, build 'heroes', and double click on the map and set flags that either task the heroes to explore or to destroy objectives. You can put a bounty on the objectives as well, which provokes the greedy little heroes to do whatever their
Evil Overlord King commands.
Case in point was my next mission, which was labeled as ‘Advanced’, although the only thing really 'advanced' about it was the number of enemies that were thrown at my Palace in the opening minutes. Dozens upon dozens of Minotaur’s descended upon my base like it was Ariadne’s ball of thread, and my Wizard’s Tower got a workout as I threw lightning bolts around like they were candy.
Eventually, the Minotaur hordes were felled, and I slowly began to rebuild my non-controllable armies and my vault. The Rogues Guild robbed people blind, my tax collectors wandered the streets shouting their profession like they were ice cream trucks, and I threateningly cracked my index finger as more enemies began to assault my base.
Majesty Gold HD is not an amazing looking game, but that is to be expected. The game came out sixteen years ago after all, and while that is an eternity in the gaming world, the game still holds up, although there are a few caveats.
Graphically, the game looks acceptable. Unlike a lot of games from that era, Majesty HD did not cause my eyes to bleed, and the aesthetic was pleasant enough that I did not mind the dated graphics. What I did mind, though, was the experience of trying to get the game to run properly. After fiddling around with the game for a few hours, it turned out that I had to download a beta patch. After that, it worked, although not perfectly. Even in fullscreen mode, the game acts as though the mouse is windowed, so those with more than one monitor may have to either disable DirectX 9 or download a program to force the mouse to stay on one screen.
Soundwise, the game is fine. Some of the sounds that come from the characters are bleating and annoying, (Taaax collectorrr!) but overall it's bearable. What’s especially annoying though is arguably one of the game’s greatest features, which is the addition of mods via the Steam Workshop. This is because every time a player opens the game, they have to re-enable the mods. It’s not huge or game breaking, certainly, as it only takes about thirty seconds, but it’s still something that I shouldn’t have to do.
A weird design choice is the sound menu, or the ‘levels’ as they are called. I sometimes like to listen to my own music as I play games, as I find the in-game music for Majesty HD to be loud and generic. So I turned it down, but it what I discovered was that the in-game sound was muted as well. So I either played the game in silence or I played with the music on. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed.
However, as a whole, Majesty Gold HD impressed me. I went in expecting nothing and I came out of it intrigued. A Steam user review called it a mix between Dungeon Keeper and Railroad Tycoon, and I think that’s fairly accurate. If you want to try an interesting game and aren’t afraid of old games and all of the potential problems and bugs that come with it, give Majesty HD a whirl.
Majesty Gold HD was reviewed on PC via Steam with a copy purchased by the reviewer. The game was selected for review by a $50 patron via our Patreon campaign.
Majesty Gold HD is a strategy game that isn’t for everybody. However, if you like strategy games and don’t mind older titles, you could do a lot worse for your money.