“Oriental Empires” is a civilization strategy game taking place in ancient China where you build an empire from the ground up, down to setting its laws. As the ruler of one of twenty-four factions, you have to build your culture, technology, and of armies to span your imperial rule. You can aim to be the greatest empire in all of China, or kneel to someone else.
Balance is the key in building your empire, even needing to know what your faction has to offer. Each faction has its advantages and disadvantages that could work in your favor as long as you a plan to rule. Once you begin it is vital you keep an eye on everything, down to population, food, and funds because if you go overboard nobles and peasants will have a good reason to put your head on the silver platter you eat off of.
There are several actions that you can make in-order for you to keep your rule running. For example, selecting technologies and cultures will unlock more options as well as add culture points (essentially victory points) to make your people happy and increase income and authority points to have more settlements in your empire. Some of these will unlock edicts that you can set as law to your lands. I mean, sure, this might piss off the peasants and nobles when you slate them in, but it’s only temporary. Well, at least as long as they’re not already sharpening their knives.
Between the peasants and nobles making up your armies, you can set formations and tactics to stacks, but special character units (emperors and generals) use their Qi, stat used to strengthen the stack their in, to make short work of any opposition. When your characters are in a settlement, they can use their Ren stat to reduce unrest among the people, so they won’t rebel as often. However, emperor characters are important as they add authority points, bringing more by winning automated battles. If the emperor character dies without an heir, then it’s all downhill, so there is a need to be decisive about your tactics.
While a seasoned strategist can quickly understand how “Oriental Empires” works it can be easy to fail if you don’t micromanage your empire. This is importantly so with settlements since they provide you with everything between funds, recruits, food, and a population that functions as your workforce. And like any government, you’ll have to deal with other factions, either declaring war or creating treaties with them. Nevertheless, you can at least take a bit of time to take care of everything. Patience is a virtue, and especially when there are cultures and technologies to unlock to move into eras as well as factions when playing a campaign for 120 turns.
The overall design has the oriental theme well executed with features that would resemble something inspired from Chinese culture. Even the cards used for recruits and other items of interest are similar in appearance with Mahjong tiles. Plus it doesn’t interfere with the interface’s functionality, which is nicely compacted and organized with a tabbed window for settlements, armies, notifications on the left and buttons imperial business such as technologies and diplomacy on the right.
The map of China is absolutely beautiful with natural features and weather, only interrupted by the fog of war. Naturally, being a game based on ancient China, all structures and units are based on styles used from those eras of the time. Indicators such as territories and trade routes are highlighted with a glow of an area or dashes by a faction’s color, so it’s hard to miss what you own. Furthermore, there are oddities with the battle animations where the units will run back and forth before acting on their tactics. This makes them seem a bit derpy but then again, this is what you get when you recruit peasants to fight for you, I guess.
The audio portion of the presentation is just as oriental as the visual, using different instruments for cues down to having the turn to end at the sound of the gong. The music has fantastic oriental tracks that change based on events, ranging from peaceful and relaxing to tense when a battle is either bound to happen or when it does.
So, all in all, “Oriental Empires” is by far a good game for civilization strategy fans and perhaps Chinese culture enthusiasts. Even so, it has enough micromanagement to discourage some players new to the genre. It is possible, however, to set settlements and other areas to automatically take care of management as well as adjust the A.I. difficulty and number of turns for the campaign.
So once you got a handle on the game (and played enough turns to unlock the rest of the factions) you can look into multiplayer, which you may be able to find other players on the game’s official Discord. In other words, if you still need a bit of help you could ask for tips on the Discord, which can be followed up with Iceberg Interactive’s beginner’s guide, so you won’t be completely in the dark.
+ In-depth turned based strategy game based on Ancient China
+ Beautiful overhead map of China
+ Great oriental music
+ Several imperial options to choose from, with different factions, cultures, and technologies to develop
– Derpy troop animations, running around the battlefield before engaging
– Could easily lose track of what you’re doing
Replay value: 5/5
In overall, “Oriental Empires” is a great strategy game with a presentation that incorporates oriental influences and in-depth management to make the gameplay more open to how you want to run your empire. Furthermore, in “Oriental Empires” you can spread your imperialistic influence by creating a trade system or going Sun Tzu, even among other players. Simply put, “Oriental Empires” is a must play if you like turn-based 4X strategy games that’s based in ancient China.
Title: Oriental Empires
Developer: Shining Pixel Studios
Genre: Strategy simulation
Resolution: 1680 x 1050
Release date: 2017-09-14
Spent time: 7+ hours
Average grade internationally: 72.75% Gamerankings.com
PEGI/ESRB age rating: PEGI16+/Teen
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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