Empires in Ruins | Review in the pages of history

Empires in Ruins | Review in the pages of history

Empires in Ruins, after a long gestation, has finally been released in its full version. It is an indie from the software house Hammer and Ravens. Although located in Estonia, the development house boasts a large Italian participation, including Emiliano Pastorelli, Giulia Pellegrini and Alessio De Luca.

The title tries to mix two rather heterogeneous genres: the 4X and the tower defense. This is accompanied by the possibility of playing in both campaign and sandbox mode, as well as being able to dedicate oneself exclusively to the tower defense component.

Between 4X and Tower Defense

A first undeniable advantage of Empires in Ruins is the great care taken in the construction of the characters, through a humor perhaps not exactly subtle, but still effective and well assembled. The protagonist of the campaign, Sergeant Heimer - a foul-mouthed, acidic, disillusioned but not without values ​​- will be sent to the Western Marches to quell a revolt. It is a narrative incipit that will gradually delineate a Late Middle Ages invented in geography, but particularly plausible both in the play and in the story; certainly exaggerated for entertainment reasons, although never pushed to the point of cloying.

Personally, I always find narrative approaches within 4X very risky, while admitting that when you manage to find the right balance, the final product buys an appeal that is difficult to match. In this sense, Empires in Ruins rightly points to the Campaign in order to partially distinguish itself from the many (too many) high-level competitors, while trying to captivate users with an extravagantly hybrid choice of gameplay.

And here a map of the Western Marches opens up in front of the player, equipped with the various conquerable regions, the different values ​​and numbers necessary to manage elements such as natural resources, the happiness of the inhabitants, food, defense military, etc. Linked to this is the obvious need to construct military and civilian buildings, with a global view to maintaining control of the region. Objective not obvious, both for the standard course of the campaign and, above all, for the interesting random events that can hit (sometimes even very hard) during the rest of the game. The balance created by Hammer and Ravens would seem trivial to manage, especially in the first few minutes and at low difficulty. The bone, however, becomes very hard to gnaw, once in the middle of the gameplay and climbing with the difficulty of events and AI. Although the 4X side of Empires in Ruins is certainly not revolutionary or incredible, I appreciated the solidity of the experience, as well as the relative ease of learning the dynamics, which contrasts the aforementioned commitment necessary to keep one's territory moving forward. br>

Simple and functional

The salient point, at least as regards the novelty of the title, however, is the inclusion of the tower defense mode, a real replacement for the battles of the games à la Total War. Probably aware of the impossibility of introducing and competing with the amazing military re-enactments of SEGA and co., Empires in Ruins therefore prefers to involve the user within a real extra mode, during which to follow the trappings of each tower defense that respect yourself. It is useless to argue about how to face a phase of the game like this: just know that it is a well done, dynamic and fun segment. The real flaw, in the context of this daring experiment, is the lack of a real synergy between the two gameplay sectors, which rather than leaning on each other seem to compete for the attention of the user. In short, the feeling is that Empires in Ruins is a two-faced Janus rather than a perfectly mixed cocktail. However, it remains a flaw that can be easily overcome.

As far as the technical side of production is concerned, I am personally little interested in the “graphic designer”, especially in independent products, which often present intriguing ideas, penalized by not exactly tasty visual frameworks. Empires in Ruins is not in great danger in this regard, certainly not being ugly to behold. However, a deliberately low and raw approach is flanked by objectively uninspired models, especially in the graphic interface, which at times leaves an unpleasant cheap aftertaste. I believe these defects are the sign of a very demanding development path, which has tried to offer a complete video game in every respect, succeeding on the whole but having to come to some compromise. As for the music (on which Hammer and Ravens works particularly well) I would like to point out some pieces pleasantly inspired by the folk of northern Europe and which blend well with the mood of the opera.

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