The building sim genre is pretty crowded these days, but Sergey "Sergio" Pershakov and Alexey "Simon" Lyukshin's indie strategy game Hearthlands still manages to add an interesting fantasy twist to it.
Even if the game can't quite compete graphically with the genre stalemates Anno and The Settlers series despite an obvious love for small details, it's an impressive effort to bring together all the elements fans of the genre love, i.e. building a medieval city, trying to keep its citizens happy by gathering resources, producing goods and therefore establishing a well-working economy while listening to a soothing soundtrack and watching the busy life of little characters moving about. Aggressors don't only come in the form of other realms, but also fantasy monsters, so using spells together with diplomacy is key to success.
The fantasy element isn't only of a cosmetic nature, because leveling up heroes to build a strong army or even integrate them in the city building process as workers is an essential part of the game. Having been so long in development and still updating its mechanics due to its Early Access status, it's difficult to say how all these things gel together, but it's certainly an interesting take on the genre.
The game is now available for PC with a 30% discount that ends on February 13, 4PM UTC, at least on GOG and the developer's website.