Genre: Action, Indie, Strategy
Developer: Blindflug Studios AG
Publisher: Blindflug Studios AG
Release Date: May 31, 2017
Released in May of 2017, First Strike: Final Hour tries to bring us an intense and fast paced strategy game in which the player controls one of today’s nuclear powers, leading it towards world domination. It is also a mobile port; thus, as you can probably expect, it doesn’t really do a very good job of achieving its goal, which is unfortunate.
Let us start off with the story since it won’t take long, seeing how the game has no real story to speak of. The only part that could be considered story related is a bit of exposition at the very beginning. That exposition comes in the form of a sentence: “Even in 2017, mankind still possesses the power to bomb itself back to the stone age.” That gives us the most basic info, though. In fact, the only two things it does provide us with is that the game takes place in the year 2017 and that it is about nuclear war, as it mentions both bombs and stone age in the same sentence. We can figure out both for ourselves by playing the game, though. The only choices for countries are literally the ones that exist today and that have nuclear capabilities. Ones that don’t necessarily have nuclear capabilities can be unlocked later. Aside from those two things that are obvious from the gameplay itself, no other exposition or anything narrative is given to the player. What caused all the countries to suddenly start a nuclear war with every other nuclear power on Earth? Why is there no proper diplomacy? Why is Iran one of the playable nations, right from the get-go? None of those questions are either asked or answered by the game and have to be thought up or interpreted by the player. In fact, even that one sentence might not be exposition, but some hack attempt at social commentary because it all depends on the player’s interpretation!
That was longer than I expected, but at least it’s nowhere near as long as the section on gameplay, which I will explain next. I am kidding, hopefully. Gameplay consists of clicking, clicking, clicking. If I didn’t know any better, I might have thought that this was a clicker game! However, satire aside, there really is a lot of clicking involved. There is clicking on territories and then clicking on their orders and targets for every single territory owned. However, it can be considerably lowered by using Control+LClick or Ctrl+A to select either multiple or all of the player’s territories, respectively.
I should not get ahead of myself, though. The game starts off with the player selecting a country or part of a continent they wish to control as well as choosing the number of AI enemies and last, but not least, choosing two ultimate powers to use in the game. New countries to play as, higher number of enemies and new ultimates are unlocked by playing the game and winning or achieving some of the objectives, such as taking over a whole continent or winning the game twice with a specific country. There is no difficulty option, per se; instead, every country has its own difficulty meter which is non-adjustable, and, by picking a certain country, the choice of difficulty is also made. Thus, a country like the United States is an easy difficulty one, whereas the country of North Korea is an impossible difficulty one. The more enemies there are, the more hectic the game is but, also, the more pointless it all is, since a lot of enemies get destroyed right away if there are too many of them.
Afterwards comes the actual gameplay. The whole globe is divided into many different territories based loosely on real countries or territories with places like the Americas having only a small number of provinces, while Europe has a lot of them. The playing field is, as already stated, all of Earth. It is presented as a 3-D globe with the aforementioned territories on it. Once the player clicks on any of their territories, they are presented with a choice of Expand, Research, Attack, Defend, Build Cruise and Build ICBM. Not all of those are always available, depending on the context, but that is it. They all do mostly what you would expect them to. For example, Expand lets the player expand their territories by taking over an adjacent territory, Research allows for research to be done, Attack and Defend allow for attacking an enemy’s territory with an ICBM or defending one of your own territories from any enemy’s missile, and Build allows for the building of either faster and more defensive Cruise missiles or more offensively inclined ICBMs.
Research is conducted by selecting one territory to do research on a specific area and then they do it. Everything is free; it just takes time. There are two adjacent research trees that don’t seem to be based on any specific theme. They are just arbitrarily picked research slots for both of them, except for the final research slot, as both of the trees are one of the two ultimate weapons selected before the game begins.
Those ultimate weapons are researched and then built, after which they can be deployed anywhere on the globe. Obviously, they are special weapons that are much stronger than normal missiles or have additional effects. Aside from those special weapons that are activated like other abilities, there are also two abilities that don’t need any research. One of them is First Strike and it only has a cool down after being used. It is used to launch all of the ICBMs at a certain region, as a super attack. The other ability allows for a clearer image of where the borders of countries are as well as who controls them. As more countries are bombarded with missiles, the blacker they get, which often makes it hard to see the borders properly and can result in the player accidentally targeting their own territory with a missile.
Diplomacy is basically non existent. There is a whole diplomacy screen in which the player can make a bloc with another country or two, but it is completely useless and pointless, as the countries will turn on the player and the player will turn on them. Meaning that even though there is a diplomacy option, it is as if there is none and the other factions can freely be called enemies at all times, rather than having to use the term “faction.”
There are no game modes; all of them are annihilation games. It is not necessary to take over the whole planet, even if the player only has a few territories to their name. As long as all the other nations with nuclear capabilities give up, the player is victorious. Sometimes, this allows for a blitzkrieg, making the playthroughs even shorter than they normally are. For me, one playthrough usually lasts for half an hour, which means the game still retains the property of a mobile game that can be played during a coffee break.
One aspect that the game has going for it is the visuals, but even they are limited. It looks minimalistic, modern and sleek, which is great. The problem arises from the fact that, due to its simplicity, there is often a lack of response when it comes to actions the player and the enemies make. Also, it can sometimes be a little unintuitive due to the simplistic visuals. Another issue with the visuals is the already mentioned borders being unclear. This seems to be on purpose, though, as there is a specific ability that serves to provide the player with a clearer picture. The fact that it was intentional, though, does not make it good.
Music is also very minimalistic in that there is no music, except for ambiance and the sound effects of explosions and clicks. This does not make it bad, but it certainly does not make it impressive, either. I personally enjoyed the simplicity and minimalistic look and feel of it all, but it definitely has quite a few flaws nonetheless.
First Strike tries to be a very fast paced and intense real time strategy game. It succeeds in doing so even though the term “real time strategy ” only loosely applies to it. Although it accomplishes the basic idea it goes for, it is sorely lacking in keeping the player engaged and engrossed with it for more than a few playthroughs at a time. I suppose this is something that cannot be helped, as the game was originally a mobile game. Even though it was polished in a visual sense so that it doesn’t look like a mobile game stretched to a higher resolution, the gameplay is still the same. While it may have been ideal for a mobile phone, it is not very good for a computer game.
- Nice visuals
- Nice sound effects and music
- Quickly becomes boring
- No story at all
- Despite looking nice, some things are hard to discern
- Very shallow
- Too much clicking
Faris gives First Strike: Final Hour a Drastik Measure 4.5 out of 10 (45).
First Strike: Final Hour is available on Steam for $11.99 USD.