Circle Of Kerzoven Review – Going Beyond World-Building

Sam Robinson

Circle Of Kerzoven is not only an engaging world-builder with so much to get stuck into right from the off; it’s also an enjoyable strategy game. Balance your materials and raise your village with a keen and careful eye on your populace, wildlife, and even plants to make sure you’re keeping a happy town. Simply put, it’s engaging as hell.

In a genre full of formulaic, archetypal titles, one game attempts to go beyond its contemporaries and offer a level of depth like no other.

The Setting in Circle of Kerzoven

Circle of Kerzoven Setting

You and your weary travellers have been sent to settle in a distant region and establish a peaceful trade with the local communities. Tired from your days-long journey, you reach an excellent place to start your new life and begin founding your fresh new settlement. 

And with that, you enter the world of the Circle Of Kerzoven. This world-building strategy game endeavours to be more detailed and more in-depth than the contemporaries of its genre by giving you complete control over the world and every minute detail within. I’m not kidding, and there’s nothing you can’t control here. 

Now I’ll confess right away; I’m not someone who takes much interest in this genre. I’ve attempted to get into a couple of these in the past, and they’re not for me, so I was pretty shocked when I found myself not wanting to leave my PC screen after a few hours of gameplay. To my complete surprise, the ‘one more level’ effect had taken hold of me. 

As this is an alpha build of the game, I will be very sympathetic and forgiving of some of its rougher elements. The game has a community still working on it, and you can definitely see the cracks that still need to be patched, but with that given, I was shocked when I set foot in the land of Kerzoven just how much there was to do right from the off. 

I was expecting a few things to interact with to give me an idea of what was coming down the line, but no. Circle Of Kerzoven is jam-packed with ideas, and there’s so much to do that it feels terrible that we’re not paying for this already. Now I won’t pretend that I fully understood everything put in front of me. As I said, I’m a genre noob and by no means an expert on this kind of game. It took me a good while to understand what I needed to do and where to begin as you’re handed a whole freaking world and a toolkit and asked to get to work. To use the word “overwhelming” would be an understatement, but then I discovered that the developers had my back

The Tutorial

How to play Circle Of Kerzoven

Circle Of Kerzoven features a very thoughtful hint mechanic that guides you to your next step rather than just leaving you to fend for yourself. There’s absolutely nothing forcing you to go down this route if you decide that you don’t want to build the community centre next. Still, this was a God-send for someone like me who struggled to understand how to open the menus, let alone navigate the world. Once I’d discovered this feature, things started moving along nicely, and I could get my teeth sunk into the gameplay. 

I won’t pretend, however, that it’s completely foolproof, as I found some issues with the title’s opening act. Firstly, I’m not fond of how the game teaches you the world’s rules. Everything you need to know (mainly) is explained via characterless textboxes that tend to clog up the screen and prevent you from seeing everything you need to keep your eye on. You can close them and move them around to your heart’s content, but I always end up with them in my way somehow. 

ALSO READ: Introvert Asks – Was Being a Teenager Hard?

This is such a dull, uninspired way of teaching the game mechanics. I guess it’s suitable for you genre-veterans who understand all of this before you’ve even made it past the title screen, but for a noob like me who had to look up what the right mouse button did, this is a major turn-off, and it led to a fair bit of confusion during my first hour. Looking at text boxes to learn the rules is homework that I don’t wish to participate in. If only this were taught via interactive tutorials, I’d be singing a different tune. 

Also, some things just aren’t explained very well. I remember one big question was what the “time remaining: 15” displayed on buildings meant. 15. What exactly? This became clearer over time, but a brief explanation would’ve been excellent. 

Building Your World in Circle of Kerzoven

Building Your World in Circle Of Kerzoven

Ok, so there’s a bit of a learning curve with this title that makes getting into it harder than it should, but that doesn’t change the fact that when you do make it past this, Circle Of Kerzoven is nothing less than gripping stuff. I was honest to God shocked at how engrossed I found myself when building up my village, collecting my minerals, watching all my lads running to manage their load, and then heading back to their hut for a well-earned rest. 

I followed the game’s guide and did what the hint box in the top right told me I should do next. I felt like I was in charge of this world (which I was), and that feeling made the whole experience incredibly satisfying in a way I was not expecting. Still, I was in charge of working out where the best places for my buildings were, where I could get the most materials and which of my lads was best suited for collecting and sorting the various minerals you could find in this world. 

The game has its economy, and you’re in charge of every aspect, and you feel that leadership, or at least I did. And the one part I was apprehensive about was the languid pace I usually associate with world-builders of this kind. It has been very thoughtfully rectified via a speed button that allows you to determine how fast your world is going and how quickly your world is it speeds through the seasons. 

This allowed me to speed through the nights while my workers were getting their strength back and zap past the harsh winters where minerals were scarce, and my populace was finding it harder to work. If I’m honest, I’m not sure this is the intention of this feature, but it allowed me to have maximum fun with this game, so I’m calling it a plus. 

Also, if you’re of the impatient variety, such as myself, it’s a fantastic feature for speeding the game up a notch, so you don’t have to wait for your crew to slowly slog their way across the land with the stack full of branches they need to finish the constructions. Whether or not you use this feature will heavily depend on how patient you are, but Mr. Speedy Gonzales turned that thing up and was delighted as his crew zapped around the land at Sonic speed, building everything in record time. 

If I had one complaint about the building mechanics, however, it would be how sometimes your workers will decide not to collect the very thing you’re after. Or maybe they’ll choose not to create the rags you need even though you have a fully stocked workbench, meaning you’ll spend hours finding out why your villagers are suddenly on strike. There could be many reasons why this happens, which is my problem. I’m not asking for the game to hold my hand, but maybe a point in the right direction would’ve been better. It would’ve saved me a few perplexing hours, at least. 

Circle Of Kerzoven is such a chilled-out game with some beautiful ambient music that even when I was confused and a little frustrated, I was just so chilled out that I didn’t mind too much, and there are very few games that say that. But to be honest, I didn’t care. This game is nice to look at. Yes, it features a simple art style, but when is that ever a bad thing? It works for this game, and it’s a reminder not to confuse “simple” with “low-quality” because Kerzoven looks the part. 

There were moments when I was checking out my village, and I’d sweep the camera around and have my breath taken away by how beautiful the landscape was. And if you think that’s hyperbole, then you’re wrong. Dazzling sunsets and beautiful springs make up the seasonal changes, and it’s a real sight to behold. 

But the critical question here is: Does this game do enough to go beyond its contemporaries? All I can say is that Circle Of Kerzoven has crushed a stereotype I had in my head about this genre as nothing more than placing your building down and repeatedly checking your watch to see if construction is done yet. That’s honestly one of the main reasons I’ve never given this genre much time. 


Kerzoven is a beautiful land, and the mechanics are so rich and engaging that I now find myself in the slightly awkward position of being a little addicted.

Sure it’s got a lot of issues right now, but for a free alpha build of a passion project, Circle Of Kerzoven gave me so much more than I ever could’ve asked for. 

I think this is a game I’ll be returning to for quite a while. Just don’t get too cosy with your world. The alpha build doesn’t feature a save option, so either be prepared to restart each time you turn off your PC or get ready to burn some serious power. Either way, whenever this title is released, I’ll be picking up a copy or three.

You can wishlist it here.

Share This Article
Leave a comment