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Circle Empires

Posted by GG Goblin On August - 16 - 2018

Going round in circles.

The strategy genre really does have something for everyone. Whether the player wants to rule an entire world, or just capture a castle, strategy has you covered. Perhaps you want a slow, thoughtful experience with historically correct units, or maybe travel to a distant world for some fast-paced real-time action with mighty warriors, the choice is yours. Or you could be looking for a light game that works great in short bursts. This is where Luminous’ Circle Empires comes in, offering a lite RTS experience that is easy to play.

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With Circle Empires, the clue is in the name. Each map is made up of small circles holding resources and enemies that the player must invariably capture. The circles can be joined with other circles on the north, south, east and west sides, meaning that each circle could potentially lead to four more circles and the player will have to defeat any enemies in the circle in order to plant their flag and be able to start collecting resources.

But I am getting ahead of myself here, because to start with the player will have to choose their leader. There are a nice selection to choose from, although many have to be unlocked through playing the game. However, choosing a leader will have an effect on the game as each one comes with a different buff or modifier. This could be as simple as providing more resources to start with, or it could be to make the game more difficult for those who really want to test their strategic skills.

Then the player gets to choose a game mode. As it stands, there are three modes to choose from, all of which play pretty much the same. The player can choose to hunt for a powerful monster, although you won’t know which circle they are hiding in until you get close. New monsters are unlocked as the player completes the hunts, and they gradually get much more difficult to defeat. Another mode faces the player off against a rival empire, which can prove to be tough. Finally, there is the easy to understand mode where the player has to worry only about capturing every circle on the map. No worries there.

Now seems to be a good time to address the lack of any form of multiplayer. Circle Empire has a great price point and is a lot of fun to play, but the inclusion of a multiplayer mode, being able to dominate friends in this world of circles, would really have tipped the game into excellence. Maybe this is something that could be added down the line, or in a sequel, but for now its absence is disappointing.

ce2 (Copy)

Whichever mode the player chooses, they will soon be presented with their starter circle. The player has to worry about various resources, such as wood, food and gold, which are needed for creating units and buildings. Drop a couple of workers down, and they will get to work gathering whichever resource can be found in that circle. There are a few buildings available that will help with certain resources or defence of a circle, but otherwise the player will be spending their resources on warriors or upgrades. The selection is not huge, but their strengths and weaknesses are pretty obvious.

So, looking to the circle to the north for example, the player will be able to see what is residing there and their combat strength. From here it is mostly just a matter of numbers. Units appear instantly once bought and will be placed where the player clicks, so there is no point in hanging around. Drop a few basic soldiers with a combat value higher than that circle in the north, and then send the army there. They will generally fight whatever controls the circle until victory or defeat. However, sometimes the monsters may come back into the player controlled circle, at which point it will be necessary to guide the army some more. Still, the player will then take control of that circle and will be able to start dropping in some workers to collect the resources, which will lead to a bigger and more powerful army, which will lead to taking over more and more circles and getting their resources. Much like the rest of the game, the gameplay loop is simple, but really quite compelling.

The only real problem is that the game is a little too simple. The die hard RTS fans will find the lack of depth and complication, and the fact that the game can be played very quickly, disappointing. There is a treasure trove that the player can gradually fill up through their games, but otherwise there is little to tie together these bite-size chunks of RTS excitement. I would say that the game is best enjoyed in short sessions, maybe only one or two games, as a palette cleanser before taking on something more substantial. On the plus side, with the right options, Circle Empires is the sort of RTS game you can start 20 minutes before dinner without forcing everyone else to starve.

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Circle Empires is a lite RTS game that is simple to pick up and lots of fun to play. It may be lacking in certain areas, such as modes, units and that much needed multiplayer mode, but the simplicity is its strength, offering a much less involved RTS experience for the more casual players. Sometimes, jumping into an RTS game can be a little overwhelming or time consuming. Circle Empires keeps the gameplay light and, if the player chooses, quick, proving perfect for RTS fans with busy lives.




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