If there's a game that instantly got me to love it, it has to be Against the Storm. Made by Eremite Games and published by Hooded Horse, this city-building roguelite looks simple at first, but there are layers of depth that make this game engrossing. The premise is simple: You're a Viceroy for the Queen, building settlements to hopefully reach an Ancient Seal to protect your settlements before a Blightstorm comes in to wipe them out. You have limited time, and have to redo if you run out.
- City building game that is both simple and complex
- Rougelite elements make the game replayable
- May feel repetitive each time you start a settlement, but the randomness offers new twists
- Different biomes are fun to explore and learn
As a city-builder, the game can feel chill and frantic at the same time. You start off with a bunch of workers, build camps to chop wood, forage, mine, and farm. From there, you have to build more advanced structures such as a bakery, smelter, etc. Your choice of which advanced structure to build also depends on luck, as you have to choose from a few. This happens when completing an objective, and earning reputation points. While all this is going on, you have to direct your woodcutters to open up glades for exploration. These will help you get more resources, or if you open a dangerous or forbidden glade, you have to do a mission to fix the threat before it overwhelms your settlement. Each year comes with different seasons, with a storm season that will affect your worker's happiness, or slow down your production.
Depending on your difficulty level, there may be other things to deal with, such as Blight corruption. And lastly, the Queen has an impatience meter, and if it fills, you fail. You have to hit the required reputation level before it happens. Building a settlement lets you expand your territory, and you'll need a few of those to reach an Ancient Seal to reforge it. This gives you a longer time next cycle before the Blightstorm hits. I honestly love this aspect of the game, because you have to strategise on how to reach the Seal. This includes how much time you take to complete each settlement, and the path that takes you to the Seal. Between each settlement you can visit the Smoldering City to purchase upgrades.
As you complete settlements and achievements, you get experience points to level up. Leveling up grants you blueprints, traders, and cornerstones. Cornerstones are a perk that grant you certain bonuses while you're building a settlement. Through it all, the game gradually ramps up the complexity and difficulty. You have to start juggling the happiness of the five races that come to your settlement, figure out which ingredients are better, worry about which glades to explore, and most of all, make sure you don't take too long. You will also need to balance out earning coin (Amber), as well as trading for goods to grow your village.
It all sounds complicated, but don't worry, you'll soon get the hang of it. I really love this game, it's a nice change of pace from the more action-ish games I've been playing. The graphics are reminiscent of the old Warcraft games but much better-looking, and the music is fantastic to listen to as you watch your villages go about their thing. Against the Storm launches on Dec 8 for the release version, but you can get it now in Early Access. Get it for PC on Steam for S$39.
Note: Review copy provided by Hooded Horse.
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