Eiyuu Senki - The World Conquest started life as an "adult game" for PC, before being cleaned up and ported to the PlayStation 3. You only need to look at a screenshot to see evidence of this, but beyond all of the fan service, is this a game worth playing?
The premise is relatively simple: you control a nameless protagonist, who is referred to in-game as The Servant of Heaven. You've come from a different world, with no memories – that favourite trope of many visual novels – and are immediately discovered as a skilled warrior. From this point on, you join the army of Yamatai, with the immediate goal of unifying the region of Zipang. Once you've achieved this goal, it's on to world domination.
The draw is that the world that the Servant of Heaven has been thrust into is an amalgamation of various historical periods. Each country is represented by its own famous historical figures, but as this is effectively a reverse harem visual novel and you're the only male in the game, all of these great historical figures are actually portrayed as cute girls, regardless of whether they were male or female in real life.
Combining a mix of visual novel gameplay and strategic role-playing game battle elements, Eiyuu Senki admittedly starts very slowly, with a lot of text-based gameplay early on – as you would expect with a visual novel or Japanese RPG. It's a fair while until you're able to get into the nitty gritty and feel like you're in control of the game, but once you get there it's worth the wait.
The core gameplay is divided into rounds, alternating between one for you, and one for the enemy. Within your own round, you're able to proceed with a set number of turns; two to start with, then more turns unlock as you progress. Within each turn, you can proceed with missions or launch attacks on nations where you've declared war. You can only use each character once per round, and need to bear in mind that if you're in the midst of war, the enemy will launch counter-attacks, which you'll need to defend with any characters who haven't been used that turn. As such, you're encouraged to think tactically from an early point in the game.
Developing your characters is relatively straightforward. You can purchase 'troops' for each character, which are explained in the game as the army that each personality commands, but effectively work in the same way as hit points. Each round you're awarded an amount of money based on how many territories you have control of, and using this money, you can restock your troops so that you can be ready for the next battle. Characters can also learn new abilities through completing side missions with them, which you can use later in combat.
The battle system itself is set on a grid, and you can pick up to six characters to participate in combat. All characters have strengths and weaknesses, though it may not be glaringly apparent what these are, and each attack type has a certain range. Within the battlefield, it's a matter of tactics from where you place your allies to who you choose to use for each battle and who you leave to defend your growing empire from potential attack. It's tempting to use your strongest warriors on the first turn of each round, but you may regret that choice later on.
Though it is partly a visual novel, and there's an emphasis on building relationships, you shouldn't expect too much from Eiyuu Senki in the way of deep and meaningful content. The girls, though they are cute, don't have much to offer in the way of depth of character, and go relatively undeveloped for the most part. This doesn't mean that the story is completely without charm, though, as it does have some endearing moments, and is capable of providing some laughs.
Visually, Eiyuu Senki is pretty basic. There's little to no animation throughout the dialogue sequences, and very little in the battle mode. What it does offer, however, is a bright and visually appealing array of characters, all of whom have their own distinct style and unique look. This makes the game at least interesting at a glance.
There's more to Eiyuu Senki - The World Conquest than meets the eye. On the face of it, it seems almost garish, with its scantily clad female characters and eyebrow-raising plot, but deep down is a game which encourages you to think tactically and carefully. While it does take some getting into, those persevering will be rewarded with challenging and interesting gameplay, and that sense of achievement which only comes with world domination.