I've been playing Sims games since the very first Sim City, all through the various incarnations including all the "Sims 1,2,3" and every add-on.
I am not a Sim fanboi, I've been fairly critical of some of their games and as objective as possible. I think my fascination with this type of game began way back on the C64 with "Tiny Computer People". I really wanted a little fishbowl/microcosm where I could influence, but let my computer people move around and interact.
In fact, my dream setting really was a medieval fief setting, where I could watch as people go about their life, feasting, courting, jousting, and frolicking in that sort of Renne faire version of the middle ages.
Voila, here is pretty close to my dream realized twenty+ years later.
So far, ver 1.1 runs fine on my PC (knock on wood), and while there was a little learning curve to use the interface, I am really happy with it. it's been very forgiving of my experimentation to see what happens if I ....try something.
Summary: It's a very lite, goofy treatment of the middle ages. This is definitely a visit to the Renne Faire, not a historical treatment of the time people.
You start off with a Lord of a manor, and after completing some initial quests, recruit a new hero to join your kingdom. Then you select quests, some times you control one hero, sometimes more than one. It helps keep you immersed into the story of your character, while the others go about their day to day life.
If you recruit a knight and take them on a quest, you'll see your Lord holding court, and generally acting according to the traits and behaviors you gave him automagically.
One thing I *REALLY* liked was in some respects they simplified things. For instance, in Sims 3, your needs meters include when to go to the bathroom. In this game, you can go if you want too and it produces a positive result for your character (A 'relieved feeling' for a little while, but it's not something you have to worry about if you don't want too.
If you don't tell your sim what to do, you don't have to micromanage every aspect of their life. In fact, on quests, you'll find you have time to dally in between tasks, so sometimes If I am running two characters, I'll just let one explore and have a day 'off' and see what the computer has him do.
So while they simplified the needs, they also used +/- mood modifiers called "Focus" to sort of average the end result of all those needs meters anyway.
Another great thing, is rather than have a set time you age and die, if your hero dies, and they have a child, that child grows to adult hood to take their place. (You can have up to two children per hero household).
I wish it was deeper. Some of the quests are a little silly, and I would rather have it be a little more like the game "Black and White", where if I start picking vile/evil choices, then my kingdom takes on a dark and gloomy appearance. I don't think the game does that. It's always got sort of a bright and airy "Don't you want to save the princess?" kind of feel to it.
I can see how there is a lot of room though for add-ons. Knights on Horseback, Hunting Dogs, Falcons, Jousting, Archery, all spring to mind. It is a little light on the strategic elements of it, I wish there was more "put X guards on the roads, and Y guards in the castle" and let me move around resources and people a little more (if I want too).
Also, Characters can only reach level 10, somehow I feel like there should be "more" for them, or branching once they reach 10th, into a choice of new different hero classes, The Lord could either become a Baron OR a Seneschal or something which leads to unique new skills.
Lastly, as a Con I'd list the inability to customize buildings with an architect tool the way you can in Sims 3. I understand why they went this direction to get you into the game and not worrying about building the castle itself. You just furnish it.
I was really surprised there was no item shop integrated into this. I thought for sure I'd be nickel and dimed to buy all the nifty little add-ons. Perhaps that will come later.
This is definitely not "Sims 3" game engine just with medieval garb on top of it. It certainly borrows a lot from their experience with it, but it has a very unique feeling to it.
Some times, they give you very descriptive text about a quest and choice you must make, which Sims 3 never really did. Thats a vast improvement.
All in all, I'd highly recommend the game.