Strategy games are not known for their stories or their art. What makes a strategy game ‘good’ to most gamers is the style and amount of control they have over their units. Certainly, there are games that have a certain style to them that adds a nice touch to the overall game – Company of Heroes, for example – but it’s not the reason people play it. However, one 4x game goes against this norm, even against its pre-established style: Endless Legend. Endless Legend is the follow up to Amplitude Studio’s Endless Space, and it carries over most of the main concepts of the previous title. However, Legend, isn’t just a re-hash of old mechanics with a fresh coat of paint on them. No, the game stand on its own right with its style and story.
Just dropping into the game, it’s immediately very fantasy driven. With warrior insects, moveable cities, masochistic mages, and a whole litany of odd-ball races there’s very little in the way of ‘normal’ to the game. But the developers aren’t trying to sell it on its racial differences. Instead, it’s a compliment to the style of the game.
The way the game is laid out is very similar to titles like Civilization with cities occupying a single hex and entire armies being represented by a few miniatures. Yet, while the units themselves may be minutely detailed, the map is oddly minimalistic. Instead of having rolling hills and a seamless landscape, everything is broken into hex-plateaus. Zooming out, the small features on the hexes – rivers, forests, etc. – become etched into the tile as if someone drew them there with a stick of charcoal. What they’ve recreated, in an artistic sense, is a virtual version of a table-top mat. And it’s a beautiful fit to the style of the game; where else do you pour over a map and carefully maneuver fantastical miniatures to overcome your foes? It’s so reminiscent of table-top games like Dungeons & Dragons that its surprising there aren’t dice stashed away in the corners. But that’s not the only similarity.
One of the things that drives fantasy based games is the lore behind the world. Now, normally, you participate in only a small portion of the lore – stopping the world from being destroyed for the umpteenth time – but Endless Legend takes a different approach. Since it is a marco game, why not handle lore from the same perspective? Instead of participating in only a small segment of it, you weave it yourself – and every story is different. Between the many races of the game, each story connected to them is unique and helps flesh out who they are, turning each race into more than just unit skins and overall stats.
And the stats of the races aren’t just small things like small increases in unit damage or faster settler production, but massive changes that demand a lot of attention to thrive as each race. The Necrophages (the ‘warrior insects’ mentioned before) are unable to declare a truce between them and other races, putting them in a perpetual state of war. The Broken Lords lack bodies and therefore don’t need food to survive, but Dust (the game’s mystical currency) sustains them – making it vital to have a great deal of turn-to-turn income.
Endless Legend is a fantasy game with strong 4x leanings, to put it a better way. While some games dabble in a genera to liven up their playthroughs, Endless Legend incorporates it into the very core of it mechanics. So, if you’re looking for a different type of strategy game to suck up you time, or love a good, fantastical story, consider checking out Amplitude Studio’s Endless Legend.