Anno 1800 could have been any one of a hundred shades of mediocre, and I would have had a much lighter, breezier time talking about it. But whether I end up adding it to my list of perennial must-plays, or retiring it in despair at the whimsical capering of Captain Bumeggs, it’s an undisputed heavyweight, and an experience I’d recommend to anyone.
Plutarch said of Alexander the Great: “when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.” If anything, my experience of Imperator: Rome has left me feeling the exact opposite: I want to weep, as I know I will never find the time to conquer everything this game has to offer.
This just wasn’t for me. Ultimately, there’s only so excited I can get by the prospect of being (let’s all say it in Chod’s awed whisper) an entrepreneur. Maybe I’m just becoming more prone to escapism as I age, but there’s just not much of a thrill for me in getting really, really efficient at flogging grape juice and tables to people.
After finishing with Druidstone, I found it interesting to think how much less of a game it might have been if its developers had gone through with early plans to make levels procedurally generated. While a more random, improvisational version of Druidstone might have appealed to my appetite for turn-based tactical games, and might – in fairness – have been more replayable, I suspect I would have enjoyed it less, and gotten bored before the end.
Brilliant though it is, [Oxygen Not Included] is an ordeal. It’s satisfying, but it’s stressful. I’d even go so far as to say – and here I risk invoking the scorn of the Legion of Geniuses, who wait in the darkness beyond the comment section – it’s a little bit too hard.
Don’t make the mistake I nearly made and disregard it: if you enjoy the tactical and strategic game styles it draws from, you’ll find a game that doesn’t go out of its way to innovate on either front, but one that performs a bloody lovely duet.
It’s not my favourite play of all time by any means, and I may never come back to it after my fascination fades. Even so, if I’m asked to come up with an example of a genuinely unique experience that shows what games are capable of in 2019, this is the block my internal Wilmot will bring forward from the tangled stacks of my memory.