Gaius Julius Caesar was among the most important generals in the history of man. Much like the greatest generals of man his lust for power became so great that he became the government. But unlike most in history, he was not lined with failure. His name “Caesar” would become a title given to all future Roman dictators The rise of Caesar begins when he pushes deep into Gaul and Germania with nothing but success and absolutely no failures. He becomes respected among the army, enough to create a coup of Rome and remove his friend Pompei from power.
The game follows the trek of Julis Caesar from his first campaigns in barbarian territory. In the back drop of the game is the politics of Rome and how every one of his victories leads to the inevitable dissolution of the Senate.
The game features an interesting mixture of Total War and Europa Universallis. From Total War we get the generic battles. From Europa Universallis we get an intricate economic system. While those are mainly turn based games this is all done in real time. You can zoom in on your units at any time to see what they are doing and all resources are gathering in real time by teams of oxen.
The game was an Early Access title for a few months, and then went live. It was actually rather weird to see. But it made a lot of sense. This is a game that is trying to pretend like it’s an indie title when it’s not. It’s published by Kasedo Media. Kasedo Media is a subsidiary of Kalypso Media, one of the largest publishers in the Europe. The goal was to make a game that feels very indie, but where the profits go to a giant corporation. As far as I know there were little to no changes in the early access to the main game, the whole experience was just a marketing scheme. This is something we’ll have to look out for in the future as it will become more and more common.
The game itself is just a campaign, one full campaign. There is no multiplayer and there is no skirmish. You have the option to continue a level after you have finished it, but it’s finished by that point. Truthfully for how the game is designed this is the only way it could function. Any multiplayer match would go on for far too long as you are expecting each campaign to last between 3-8 hours.
The power of the game is exactly how open it is. Most games like this are very linear. You just go down one narrow path and that’s it. In this game you have a lot of threats on multiple fronts and there are many ways to deal with those problems. For me it meant capturing all towns and enslaving every single one of my enemies so they wouldn’t return. But for others there are options for ignoring them and pushing, setting guards around the clock, or pushing into their territories and conquering them.
The campaigns are also very broad in their scope. You start off with a very small province that might have two cities. You have to balance your soldiers with your income (how you pay the soldiers). Your soldiers need to be fed or they will lose morale and become functionally useless. You need wood in order to build structures. These are the three resources on the map and these have to be connected to a town in order for you to be able to use them via a trade route. Forts in turn can be loaded with wood and food to build defensive structures and supply your units with food to aid you in laying siege to towns. Resource piles can be worked by workers or slaves to give them higher output.
Cities themselves can be linked and as you grow and grow and grow you need to worry about continuously having more resources and dealing with the armies of the enemy that increase in size.
Armies themselves can be very complicated in nature. You will gain legion forces that only you can have. Then you can conscript skirmishers from the general population. Archers and slingers provide ranged support. There is an anti-archer unit. There is a cavalry unit. There are sea units. There are siege towers. There are anti-infantry siege tools. There are spearmen for cavalry. You need the right mix of units to deal with a large number of possibilities.
Each unit gains experience and can upgrade various support classes that provide large benefits. As an example one support class is “Hunter” which will provide you with a hunter in the squad to gather food for you. Another support class the Centurion will increase your melee damage. Each squad can have a maximum of four support classes. After each unit dies they return to the place where they were created and slowly regenerate over time. Even this regeneration is part of the logistics of the game. You can build structures to increase the rate that they can recruit men into the squad and there are various settings in the towns that will allow them to focus towards this.
Conquering towns and cities is the objective of most maps. When you capture a city there is unrest. You need troops staged in. But you also have the option of building a structure to deal with this or take hostages.
The game does have its dark side, mainly hostages and slaves. Hostages are built as a military unit and are effective only when you move them out of the city, to hold them hostage somewhere else. This stops unrest as people are now in terror of someone’s wives and children being executed. Slaves can be made as free replacements for workers by right clicking on a defeated enemy that has been trapped from escape. Capturing slaves is necessary as those defeated soldiers will otherwise just retreat to base, regenerate and gain their support support classes to become stronger.
It gets insanely complicated and if anything your downfall will often become your empire becomes too military and not enough resources. Every single hostage, slave and worker requires food. Every single unit gains food from whatever area they happen to be. If not enough food is coming to the front and too much is consumed by the locals, your soldiers will starve and be unable to push any further.
So why is this game not amazing?
It comes with a lot of problems with pacing and time. You will spend a lot of your time waiting around on things. You will be waiting on food to replenish. You will be waiting on soldiers to replenish. Even if you micro manage every single small aspect about your empire, it still doesn’t leave you with enough to do to fill in the gaps of waiting for real time. This is one advantage turn based has because it can set pacing right.
In the first you’re looking at a game that crashes quite often. You’ll be in the middle of a giant battle, and then the game just shuts off. There is no crash report system. You’ll have no idea what went on. It just crashes and unlike most games, there’s not even an automatic start over mechanism. On the second campaign I crashed 14 times before I eventually just gave up and moved on to the next campaign. I saw 2 crashes in that campaign and became very sick of repeating over the same tedious stuff over and over and over.
Theses sorts of games are based around large scale tactical battles that in the giant scope of things you’re supposed to feel like a person moving pieces on a giant board, but when you zoom in it should feel real. Total War and Wargame have done well in the past because when you zoom in it feels like exactly what they are emulating.
You don’t get that feeling with this game. When you zoom in most of the soldiers are just stabbing the air in front of them and they all have the exact same battle animation. There is never anything that will feel epic or grand about these battles, they are simplified and not even worth zooming in for.
Games like Total War and Wargame have terrain that interacts in some way. When you go into a forest, your soldiers are hidden. When you’re on a hill you gain a range advantage. Terrain has no impact in this game. There is no competition for powerful positions in the battle. This has to do with how live it is. Since the cities are the objective the only tactical advantage is by being near them… which is completely counter intuitive with the conquest theme of the game. There should be a reason for both sides to want to go out and trump resources. Since comptuer’s income and food is also simulated and none of it seems real, there is on incentive to send out cavalry to harass enemy supply lines like they do yours.
The game does offer flanking mechanics but they seem too entirely dominant. Just one flank can wipe out an enemy from 100% to 0%.
But with that some things are not without their charm. You can choose to pay for workers who will help your resources produce assets. Or you can enslave your enemies which will allow you to gain a free work force. Now of course no one’s enemies were slaves, Roman enemies died. It was the populace that was enslaved. And I dare not think that the Roman Empire would have given people the option of just being workers.
But it is an interesting mechanic. It is also a core part of the game. Fleeing enemies need to be tracked down by cavalry and turned into slaves, otherwise they come back stronger with more veterancy.
The campaign is four chapters long and represents anywhere from 12-30 hours of gameplay depending on difficulty setting.
Is it worth buying? Probably not. The game is designed to more or less scam consumers into thinking it is some indie game that is supposed to have flaws that give it charm. Instead it’s a game that could have actually used a lot more time in early access.