Genre: Sci-fi turn-based strategy
Developer: Triumph Studios
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Edited by AlexKnight2005
4x, explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. When you think of 4x games, Civilization comes to mind as the pinnacle of what each aspect of 4x means. Age of Wonders: Planetfall is like it’s the fourth cousin twice removed who brings all the interesting stuff to the party. Without the standards set by Civilization, Age of Wonders wouldn’t be able to turn all of 4x on its head.
Age of Wonders is set in a futuristic space-age where you play as one of six races, the Vanguard, Syndicate, Amazons, Kir’ko, Dvar, or Assembly. Rather than having just one hero for each race, you can choose from several, and then the pool widens even farther for your secondary heroes, which, are offered to you throughout your matches. This makes each game you play unique in just that factor alone. On top of that, there are six secret techs one assigned to each hero, so you could have a Kir’ko leader that has the Psyumbra tech or one that has the Voidtech. With four victory types, this makes almost infinite ways to play a match of Age of Wonders: Planetfall. They also managed to turn the traditional city-style on its head. Instead of having several dozen cities where everything is in the cities you instead have a few colonies that annex the surrounding sectors using them to build structures. Each aspect of the gameplay has the old 4x feel and roots but have a unique spin. The combat takes place in small maps based on a hex grid kind of combat, they even use the percentage based hit rate, including the frustrating misses when they have a ninety percent hit rate. The six secret techs you can unlock each have unique weapons you can use in these battles as well, my favorite being the Psyumbra weapons and abilities.
The six races each have a single-player campaign, some like the Assembly campaign, only unlocks after you finish other campaigns or finish certain missions for the races. You start off with the Human, Kir’ko, and Dvar campaigns unlocked, each campaign shows off one of the possible ways to win the game though, for the campaigns, there are specialized endings. They manage to make each decision you have over the campaign have equal support for each side, and not one choice seemed like the good guy or bad guy answer. There were several times I had a hard time picking what I felt was the correct choice in my mind for the story. Each race is tied in with the others through already established relationships formed from the history of the world. This is most heavily seen, in the Kir’ko who in the history of the world were slaves to the former imperium, which was the combination of the Vanguard, Syndicate, and a few other human factions that aren’t playable races, like the Paragons. In the time of the campaign, the Kir’ko are now free but have split into two factions the ones that want to fight the humans in revenge, and those that want to find their old home and live in peace. They aren’t the only race that has relationships with other races, the Amazons, and Dvar are aggressive with each other, the Assembly pretty much hate everyone, and the Syndicate only do what is best for their bottom line.
Most appropriately for a game set in space, the planets truly look alien. There are planets with purple grass and green seas or planets that are completely covered in ice and have hydrogen seas. They manage to keep the alien look but have a mystifying beauty for every world with the higher end graphics allowing you to see all this detail in every plant and alien creature. The graphics look like modern games and not one that wouldn’t seem out of place on the PS2, and it was really refreshing not having to fiddle with the screen setting for once with my oddly sized monitor. This alien look carries over into stuff like the menus and the UI in matches. On the menu screens, the buttons give off an eerie tinted green-blue light with a very futuristic look to the text and the style of the menus. This green-blue glow carries over into the UI of the game, with the same futuristic look. This all blends together nicely for a complete look that makes for the cherry on top of the cake, that is the gameplay.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall might not be a conventional 4x game, but each chance they took to mix up the gameplay format with unique ideas was well picked and made the game that much better. The unique gameplay and style kept drawing me back, and I can see myself playing this game for many years.
- Each match felt unique
- The races didn’t seem like they were copy and pasted
- The graphics look amazing even on a lower end computer
- A lot of the races fell into already established tropes
- The learning curve is quite steep
Chebikitty gives Age of Wonders: Planetfall a Drastik Measure 9.5 out of 10 (95)