Lost Empire: Immortals PC Review

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Take my hand and grab your mouse with the other, as we prepare ourselves for several hours of another turn based strategy, clicking wildly as we go.

The story goes that there was an immortal race cleverly known as ‘The Immortals’, and they’ve been destroyed. The last two survivors formed a partnership to return their race to its former glory, but as is always the case with “roommates” they eat the last of your scotch eggs without telling you, and it’s time to wage war on them. Admittedly, these two characters take it a little further than super-gluing your hand to your face while sleeping; they’re bringing the whole galaxy into their scuffle and this, joyfully, is where you come in.

You choose 1 of 6 races, each with their own unique abilities and strengths. These aren’t your standard behind the scenes stat differences that never actually appear to influence anything; each race actually plays differently. Whether you find yourself as energy-based beings with a hive mind government, a war-like troll race with a definite inkling for blasting bums, or us boring humans, each race is unique enough to make you glad, and in some cases sorry, you chose them. Each race looks aesthetically different enough that you will find yourself having a definite “cool looking” favourite that you’re likely to choose first, or more likely will change to them after they’ve been removing settlement after settlement of yours from the galactic map.

You: “Dat Laser got stylez!!”

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The overlaying mechanic here is to explore the systems and lay claim to the planets with the best resources, but obviously it isn’t that one-dimensional or easy. The tutorial stipulated to me that “I was going to be spending quite some time in the research section”, and Ballsey Sundays was it right. Everything, and I do mean everything, revolves around your empire’s ability to keep up with scientific breakthroughs. If you gear yourself too much toward mining and resource gathering, thinking you’re preparing yourself for the long haul, you will find yourself outclassed in a military sense. Likewise, if you gear your empire only towards ship building and military firepower, you’ll find that opposing forces that have multitasked between that and other areas now have more resources to be spending on ships and their advancement, and you will find yourself slowly being beaten by better planning. This is the game’s best attribute and its biggest flaw all in one. Overall, you have no idea of the other empires’ advancement in areas (beyond spies and diplomats), so all you can do is hope you have optimized yourself enough that when you finally encounter them you can hold your own. Keeping in mind that the AI is amazingly good at optimizing itself, once you’re behind there is relatively no way to catch up beyond forming a paper thin alliance with the strongest galactic power.

I have a sad admission to make here; I am too dumb for this game. Usually, I’m the kind of player who can throw themselves into screens of boring stats, and can get a perverse pleasure knowing I’ve made the best choice I can, but this game beat me in every sense. I couldn’t multitask well enough to explore and plan ahead, nor could I research enough or forward my empire’s growth to stay competitive. Furthermore, when I did set out to dwell over every single turn I took, making the most educated and well thought out action possible, the game became a huge headache and lost what little fun I was having through creating ships and advancing my territory.

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On that downer, I’ll move on to my favourite aspect of the game – ship creation. Once you have researched the hull type needed and weapon types you wish to use, you can start creating ships. This game takes a unique approach by not having any default setups for ships; it’s all down to you and what you are willing to spend on each unit you design and build. For example, I had researched enough to start making destroyer and cruiser class ships, but after I experimented with shields, weapons and miscellaneous electronics enough I realized I could make my smaller faster ships have the same amount of armour for less money by just adding more upgrades. It’s this kind of depth that I adore, especially when you can start using them in unison with fleet formations, battle strategies, priority targets and utilizing specific weapon attributes like range over power.

I was particularly proud of my flagship named ‘The Chimney Sweep’.

As space battles occur you are only alerted to the system it has taken place in; it’s up to you to specifically select to watch the carnage. This can be especially handy when your fleet has suffered a crippling defeat at the hands of the enemy and you wish to know why, allowing you to pause and fast forward to see the turning point of the battle. Scope is another bonus here, as far too often I have read the back of game cases to see them talk about “Huge Epic Battles!” only to be epically disappointed when they actually occur. Yet even with my complete lack of skill on this game, I was able to witness a battle consisting of 320 enemy ships beating the living knits out of me in real time, with no loading or slow down… or hope of survival.

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This game is a definite successful clench on the bum cheeks of turn-based strategy, and I would’ve loved to recommend it to everyone. But why should you or I have to practice on a game to start having fun? Alternatively, when a game doesn’t throw you a valid difficulty curve to hand you a few easy victories to ease you in, why should you have to sit through a trawled out defeat over and over again to eventually restart several hours’ progress at move one? Lost Empire: Immortals has definite strengths and weaknesses, like all games, and I can only assume that if you’ve made it this far reading this review, you’ve got an interest in this type of game or maybe something above sounded appealing … or you’re my mum.

I feel like the ultimate hypocrite right now. The amount of games I have played in recent years and ranted about how dumbed down they are, and how back in the day they would have let us make all of these decisions and mistakes ourselves, and from it would have spawned a genuine learning experience – this game is that and more, yet it was too much for me.

If you’re willing to dive into its briny unforgiving depths and learn from it, then there is about as much here as there is to get from a turn-based strategy. However, if this is your first TBS, there’s no shame in setting it on easy and working your way up (apart from the fact I was too proud to do that myself).

I guess my ranting about “Idiot Proof Gaming”, was just Proof that I am a Gaming Idiot.

7/10

by

Version tested: PC

Developer: Pollux Gamelabs

Publisher: Paradox Interactive

Genre: Turn-based Strategy