If there were a reward for a title that provided gamers with an incredibly deep, fulfilling experience at the cost of threatening eternal boredom upon first booting the title up then the award would undoubtedly belong to Endless Space.
Endless Space is an appropriately titled space-faring, turn-based, strategy game much in the same vain as Sid Meier’s Civilization series except for the fact that Amplitude Studios’ rendition of the genre takes place in a cosmic setting. The indie developer’s first title delivers on their promise to provide gamers with strategy games at “affordable prices“. The game is indeed affordable and is a title that should be noted as a welcome addition to the genre. In addition, those who are willing to learn the ropes of the title’s deeply faceted commitment to immersion will be rewarded with a sense of fulfillment when they destroy an enemy ship for the first time or learn how to screw over AI with ludicrous business propositions. The game does not feature a campaign, however, it does include a rich single player experience that gives players the opportunity to take their skills to an online stage.
Furthermore, the title includes 9 factions which each add their own history, advantages, and abilities to Endless Space’s complete package. For one, I favor the use of the United Empire who’s benefits include an improved economy and expansionist attributes that set them apart from the other groups. I still find myself clinging to the United Empire’s focus on money. Yes, money. I do not own planets in real life so I might as well embrace the possibility that my virtual half can be better endowed.
To add, I find that each faction has their own sense of character especially upon first encounters (which should be expected to occur after about 25 turns on average) – first encounters, of course being the initial point of contact between two players meet in the game (whether AI or human) and provides players with the opportunity to engage in trade, peace, or just friendly conversation – and this enables players to judge the actions they commit more critically in light of rival factions at play. For instance, defending a colony from a faction with a stronger militaristic attribute may lead to well… war! However, in light of all these qualities, I found that the title had a steep learning curve that may not be appealing to those who are not well-versed in the world of strategy.
The title seemed intimidating right from the get-go. Now, you may be thinking, “well, this guy’s a moron, how can he complain about a title’s difficulty when clearly his lack of intelligence is the one to blame.” To that, I would not have no adequate response. Despite this I still cannot agree with the notion that all gamers desire a level of intimacy with a product that features an incredible amount of menus for everything under the sun to be quite ridiculous – to say the least.
I was intimidated more so due to Amplitude Studio’s ambition in completing this project. It stands as a humbly rewarding experience once players become well acquainted with the research technology tree (I stopped counting the potential paths one can take after the number 50), the camera issues which, at the time of this review’s composition, are yet to be resolved with a patch, and the incredibly small online community that made the multiplayer feature awfully difficult to judge for the purposes of review. Once players have gotten past the latter difficulties, it is an amazing title.
My advice to new players, or those simply baffled by the notion of playing a game remotely similar to the one that I have described: play the tutorial. You’ll thank me later.
Though you will undoubtedly turn on the tutorial and click through screens and screens of information regarding every nook and cranny of Endless Space before having the opportunity to think for yourself, your persistence will be rewarded with an enriched universe of possibilities. The truth of the matter is that the game requires a certain degree of patience – a trait that has all but been disbanded in our current culture.
From sprawling galaxies to melodramatic combat and an economy that seems endless, Endless Space delivers.
Endless Space is available on PC from August 24th, 2012.