The Patrician (1992)

Info

Genre Period Developer Publisher Theme
Simulation, Trade, Historic Classic (1990 -2000) Tryptichon Software Asc(ar)on Software Hanseatic League, Late Middle Ages, Early Modern Ages, Northern Europe, Trade in the Baltics

The Patrician is a very interesting and unique game off the well beaten track. In this game you play the role of a trader in early modern northern Europe. You objective is to rise up in the ranks of the Hanseatic merchant’s league and get elected as its head. First, though, you have to become the mayor of one of the league’s affiliated cities. Gameplay is based on buying low at one place and selling high at another place strategy. Along with that you have to take care of your ships, manage a crew, fend off pirates, protect cities, survive through disasters like plague, or fire, manage your stores to influence the market rates, and even dabble in politics and skulduggery to achieve your goals. Basically it is an economic simulation garnished with several role-playing aspects and served on a platter of historic setting.

Game Assessment

Complexity Matrix 

Complexity Parameters Values (0, 0.5, 1)
Control Scheme 0: Easy
Complexity 1: Complex
Story 0: Sandbox
Lore 1: Rich in history of the Hanseatic League
Immersion 1: Role-play
Difficulty 1: High
Learning Curve 1: Steep
Total Score 5/7: Heavyweight game 

Satisfaction Matrix

Needs Satisfaction Score (0-3)
Analytical 3: Well met
Creative 1: Slightly met
Mastery 3: Well met
Destructive 0: Not met
Entertainment 0: Not met
Pace 0: Not met
Horror 0: Not met
Total Score 7/21: Good Game

Game Review

TL;DR A game that has not aged well inspite of its innovation and brilliance. Do not waste time unless you want to abuse yourself with deep sense of frustration.

Pros

  • Interesting concepts of realism and role-play
  • Historical accuracy

Cons

  • Poor interface design
  • Lack of detailed manual
  • Gameplay elements extremely cryptic and not intuitive
  • Extremely steep learning curve and on top of that bone breaking difficulty

Purpose – Challenge, Study, Relaxation,

Gameplay – Overall it is very difficult to understand the various game mechanics because there is no proper guide available. The manual is very superficially written, and learning by trying is very costly in terms of time. Certain game mechanics renders the player feel powerless and helpless, which maybe good from realism aspect, but is not really fun. For example several random events like, pirate attacks on the city, plague, or fire breaking out in your warehouse can occur but there is no clear idea about how you can prevent them from affecting you, even if not immediately but in the future.

Graphics – Okay for its time.

Performance – Potato category.

Entertainment – Quite entertaining actually, with lots of historical details and trivia integrated inside the gameplay.

Plot (if applicable) – Not applicable. More or less sandbox, however there is a general goal that is unique.

Replay value – Theoretically high. Outcomes in each playthrough can be drastically different. However, in practice the painful gameplay would probably prevent you from playing again once you beat the game, i.e. to say if you manage to beat it at all!

Immersion – There is quite high level of immersion in the game. You do feel like a trader of the Hanseatic League.

Overall a very very interesting concept marred due to bad gameplay design, poor marketing and poorly written manual. I am still trying to beat this game, but till now without success.