During PAX, we received an invite to play a new indie game by developers J. Carline and R.T Smith. The game was published by Iceberg Interactive and if that name sounds familiar to you, these are the same guys that published the Endless game series. So I was excited to play this game.
So, Oriental Empires is a 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit and Exterminate) strategy game where you take control of a Chinese tribe and attempt to conquer your rival tribes and rule China. Each faction has various benefits and unique units. While they weren’t the first I was already having familiar memories of playing Civilization. When I clicked on my first city, I started to see a good blend of Endless Legend/Space interface here. The key difference is that this game doesn’t require an army of workers to build up the terrain around your cities, you get to select what is built and in which hex. Granted, some veteran 4X players are likely scoffing, but the interface that they made makes it much easier for me to see what will benefit in one hex over another. Also in the interface is a rebellion percentage, which made it so much easier to tell when I was going to lose everything rebels were likely going to appear. Achieved through a percentage chance as well as a pulldown menu that showed what exactly was influencing the moods of peasants and nobles alike.
I could also see a little inspiration from the Total War series of game for the combat engine that was used. In traditional 4X games, a single unit would have an animation and a certain amount of hit points would be removed. In this game, you can have large army battles, with units forming into formations and wheeling to slam into the flanks of your foes. While there is no way to control the units in combat, you can set up your units to perform certain actions like charging or to defend a position. The game tries its best to match the strategy, and it shows…especially when you make an entire army wing just stand while your center is crushed. The stats of each unit are really easy to tell what they do, with a sword for damage and a shield for how much armor the unit will have. Allowing the player to tailor make an army for specific roles.
Even though I played this game for a few days, and have played similar titles in the past, I’m still learning from the game. It’s harder than other games that I’ve played given you start on a war footing with the rival tribes. But that’s half the fun of these games is to learn from mistakes. That said, if you’re a fan of the Endless series, Civilization or any other 4X game; you will find enjoyment in this game. If you’ve tried 4X games and thought they were too complicated with their interfaces then give Oriental Empires a try as I found the interface to be very friendly to the player. See you guys on the field of battle!