Empires in Ruins Review / Test

Empire in Ruins Review
I want you for Koth Army Poster
Empire in Ruins Review
I want you for Koth Army Poster

Empires in Ruins, the turn-based 4X strategy and real-time strategy tower defense crossover in the Dark Ages in test / review

Zap Zockt Empires in Ruins Review / Test – In this post I test the humorous medieval 4X Strategy Tower-Defense Indie game Empires in Ruins by Hammers & Ravens from Estonia. Turn-based strategy, empire management and tower defense mixed with a lot of rough humor and dark ambiance.

German Version:

This post is available here as text and also as a YouTube video with subtitles in many languages, so you can choose how you want to enjoy it.

Video:

German voiceover, subtitles in many languages

Empires in Ruins Review – Introduction

Dark Middle Ages, violent uprisings have broken out in the Western Marshes of the Kingdom of Koth. The Crown sends Sergeant Hans Heimer to crush the uprisings and bring order back to the land. We play Hans Heimer, a drunken soldier’s roughneck with no flowery language at all.

In Empires in Ruins, we are the envoy of the crown, commander, provincial administrator and cursing brandy drunkard in one person. We scout out the rebellious provinces, conquer them with our troops and then administer the pacified provinces.

Empires in Ruins is a mix of turn-based 4x strategy mixed with some role-playing and tower defense fighting. All of this is spiced up with a dash of coarse humor that reminds me of Terry Pratchett’s Guards between the lines. Welcome to the ZapZockt review of Empires in Ruins.

Hi, this is Zap. I present here the game Empires in Ruins, show you what it’s about, how it is played and in the end, there is also a rating by me. But above all, I want to give you all the necessary information so that you can decide for yourself in the end whether the game could be fun for you or not.

Empires in Ruins Test – Demo, Early Access and Price

Empires in Ruins Game Review - Demo, Early Access, Price
Empires in Ruins Game Review
Demo, Early Access, Price

The game is already available as a free demo version at Steam for everyone to play. So you can take a look at the game yourself if you like. You can find the link below. I got a free full version from the developer, but this has no influence on my rating. For each review, I assume how I would feel if I had paid the full price.

Empires in Ruins will go into early access on Steam on February 4th for a price of about 15 to 17 euros/$. The development of the game was started 5 years ago by the small team of Hammer and Ravens from Estonia. This is a small indie team, but they are very professional in programming, storytelling, and dubbing. But there are more details to come.

A roadmap for the time after the Early Access Release already exists for the following year. A lot of features and enhancements are already planned and scheduled. Such sophisticated planning is rarely seen at smaller indie studios. But how exactly this plan can be kept, we will have to see first.

Game Type – How does the game Empires in Ruins play?

Empires in Ruins Review - Game Type
Empires in Ruins Review – Game Type

The developers themselves describe their game as the bastard child of 4X Strategy and Tower Defence. If the term 4X Strategy does not mean anything to you, there is a link below with a detailed explanation.

This self-description also hits the core of the game quite well. On the one hand, we have a kingdom map with numerous different provinces, but not all of them are available at the beginning.

These regions have a lot of different attributes, from contentment, army influence and military strength to rebelliousness and food supply. Each province has certain resources available and can be fortified and expanded by building new structures bit by bit. These values are changing, conquered provinces are in constant danger of rebelling again and therefore need some attention even after the conquest

We start with a single province and must gradually bring all others under our control. To do this, we need to send spies into neighboring provinces to determine their fighting strength and then send an army to conquer them.

The battles in Empires in Ruins then take place in an isometric real-time strategy map, offering classic tower defense battles. We have a settlement or fortress that is under attack by waves of troops. The attackers run to the fortress on predetermined routes and we have to stop these armies with watchtowers.

If we manage to repel all waves, the battle is won. The game offers a huge number of possibilities to intervene in the fight. Later there are many different towers, which can be activated through 3 extensive research trees. And in addition, there are resource collectors, foot soldiers and other details that help us to decide the battle for ourselves. And on the other hand, the enemy troops become more and more diverse over time and offer varied challenges.

The history of the campaign is presented in text dialogues. Here a very coarse, sometimes dark humor has been used. The main character Hans Heimer is a real roughneck and doesn’t mince his words or say no to any drink. Behind the rough skin, however, there is also a personality with a lot of integrity, with which I could identify myself quite well after some time. In parts, the narrative style and the main character reminds me a little bit of the town guard of Ank Morpok by Terry Pratchet and especially of Captain Mumm.

Empires in Ruins Review – technology, graphics, sound

Empires in Ruins Review - technology, graphics, sound
Empires in Ruins Review – technology, graphics, sound

Empires in Ruins is created with the Unity Engine. Since this is one of the two most popular and also most tested engines for game programming, many teething troubles are already excluded. You can see that in the game, crashes are not yet a problem. There were also no jerking or serious graphics problems in my test.

The graphics of the game are hand-drawn and sometimes strongly reminiscent of strategy board games. The characters are rather comic-like illustrated, but not overly colorful. For my taste, they fit very well with the medieval background of the game.

The animations during the battle phase are not a big innovation now, but they show what’s happening on the battlefield. You can easily distinguish the different abilities and characters, and I think that fulfills the most important requirements.

Let’s get to the soundtrack of the game. Voice output is not available, all dialogues run in sequences of static character pictures and text. Here Empires in Ruins is thus somewhat weak at the moment.

But the musical setting is enormously strong. Folk-rock and medieval tunes in a very high-quality play in the background. If you like the medieval-inspired music of Subway to Sally or In Extremo and generally like to listen to medieval music, you’ll be in for some positive surprises when listening to Empires in Ruins.

Gameplay – Strategy on the world map

Empires in Ruins Gameplay - turn-based strategy on the worldmap
Empires in Ruins Gameplay – turn-based strategy on the world map

The controls of the world map and provincial views of Empires in Ruins are quite complex. We have a pretty strategic depth here.

There are four basic building resources. To build new buildings we need wood, stone, iron, and gold. In addition, our inhabitants also need a certain amount of food and also values such as military control, the happiness of the inhabitants, a rebellious attitude that has to be reconciled.

And in order to expand our influence, we also need attack and defense strength, espionage, and must balance taxes and the balance of the respective regional army between controlling the population and sending troops to war.

We have a mobile headquarters, which includes our character, Sergeant Heimer. This headquarters has a strong impact on the province in which it is currently positioned. And only there where the headquarters is, new buildings can be added to the construction queue. So we have to send this headquarters around a lot to get it to where it makes the most sense.

Espionage and attacks can be planned here and the strength of these actions depends on the strength of the province that starts the action. In order to optimize this, each province can send out troops to reinforce another province. All this has to be planned, of course, and the presence or absence of troops has an effect on the population.

In addition, particularly talented soldiers apply to us as officers. These also have different characteristics and we can assign them to individual provinces as governors, so that they can then strengthen this province in different ways depending on their values.

Provinces grow over time and can then be upgraded, unlocking additional opportunities. However, if a province becomes smaller again due to rebellion or hunger, it can also be downgraded again.

The actions on the world map take place in round-based mode, where the game strongly resembles a turn-based board game. Each troop movement requires one or more turns depending on the distance. All building actions also take a certain number of turns, our resources increase with amount XY per turn and in each turn random events can happen, of which the game has a lot to offer. These often tell an interesting, macabre or funny story and change some values for some rounds.

Empires in Ruins Game – realtime strategy Tower Defense combat

Empires in Ruins Game - realtime strategy Tower Defense combat
Empires in Ruins Game – realtime strategy Tower Defense combat

The combat in Empires in Ruins takes place, as previously said, in a tower defense real-time strategy part. We will always be the defender, so even if we attack a province, the battle will never show us as an attacking force. But this is probably just a detail on the side.

Each province has a fixed map that gives us a location for a headquarters and routes for the attackers to storm our fortress. These attackers can be very diverse, from attack dogs and simple melee fighters to trained bears and their axe throwing tamer. From bomb-throwing alchemists or giant hammer fighters to mages and flying units, there are many different enemies who want to tear down our base.

And the prescribed paths are not binding for all units. The alchemists, in particular, can take shortcuts through forests or even dig tunnels that open up completely new paths, thus circumventing our tower defense. And at the latest, the flying troops ignore the paths completely so that we have to prepare for many different attacks.

During the battles resources are scarce, so we can only gradually build up our defense. We also have the opportunity to construct buildings that improve the number of resources we receive. Provided that we have researched them before.

Improvements can also be made to the towers, and of course, our defenses are also damaged and we can repair them. But this also costs material and therefore needs to be well planned.

This battle mode offers many more loving little details. To list them all here would surely take another 10 minutes alone, and I don’t even know if I have seen them all in my more than 15 hours of testing. But I would like to point out that the values of the provinces from the round mode have a massive fundamental influence on these fights.

Gameplay – Story decisions and character development

Empires in Ruins Review
Roleplaying, decision-making, and character development
Empires in Ruins Review
Roleplaying, decision-making, and character development

In the course of history, we are repeatedly confronted with decisions that can have different effects on all kinds of values in the provinces, but also on our character, Heimer.

In addition, we also get experience points with every fight, which ensures that our rough-legged leader climbs up in levels. And in each level, we can distribute 5 points to his 4 basic attributes leadership, tactics, empathy, and management. There is also the fifth attribute luck, which we can’t influence directly.

As the level increases, Hans Heimer also gets special abilities that we can activate in combat. For example, the possibility to get double resources for a short time in battle or another one gives double gold income from enemies.

Read recommendation:

Read more reviews from ZapZockt.de

Empires in Ruins Gameplay – Research

Empires in Ruins Gameplay - research
Empires in Ruins Gameplay – research

Each province has the possibility to build a research building and expand it in several stages. This then generates research points and with this, we can unlock numerous improvements and new buildings for the battle mode in Gottfried Megler, a dwarfish blacksmith and researcher.

Here we can improve our towers and unlock other variants, make sure that our buildings have more health energy, the projectiles generally cause more damage or be replaced by fire arrows that let hit enemies burn for a while.

In total, we can unlock more than 70 improvements and over 30 buildings and abilities.

Progress here is very varied, but also somewhat limited depending on the chapters of the story so that one could not unlock everything by waiting forever in the initial provinces.

Empires in Ruins Review – Gameplay – Game Modes

Empires in Ruins Game Review - different game modes
Empires in Ruins Game Review – different game modes

The game offers 3 levels of difficulty for the campaign. I tried the easy one first and here it was actually almost impossible to lose. But on the middle-level things can go wrong and you have to look a bit closer and use the resources wisely.

I haven’t found time for the hard mode yet, but I assume that failures will be more common here and that you can mess up a lot before you succeed in this mode.

Besides the extensive campaign, which according to developers should currently last between 13 and 20 hours, the game also offers a sandbox mode and an arcade mode.

In sandbox mode, you have the full map available from the beginning and no restrictions by the story. This allows you to directly develop all research and all buildings, as long as you collect the necessary research points. This will probably be a good alternative to the campaign for some people and will also be good for later new beginnings.

In Arcade mode we can play through the individual provincial maps in Tower-Defense-only mode without having to deal with the administration of a kingdom. This is also an opportunity to play a short map when you don’t have much time.

Empires in Ruins – State of the Game

Empires in Ruins Review - state of the game
Empires in Ruins Review – state of the game

The team behind this game makes a very competent impression and you can see this in the game. Many details seem very well thought out and polished. Many areas already work very well in this phase of development.

The fights are fun, sometimes even quite tricky and hold some surprises. The management part on the provincial map seems not that exciting at first sight. But it also knows how to captivate by its depth, if you like such kingdom-management simulations. Anyway, it entertained me very well.

Crashes, jerks or other really big problems, I could not find any. If one speaks of bugs in this game, then this refers here rather to missing texts, wrongly arranged controls or maybe a little flicker when you move the map very fast.

The balancing may need to be improved here and there. But that’s also one of the reasons why the developers have planned a one-year early access phase. But early access does not mean that you get an unfinished, bugged game. It is well playable in the current form of Day 1 of Early Access.

In addition, the developers are planning some extensions in the areas of research, combat and especially language support. I will include the roadmap on my website in the article about the game, if you are interested, you can have a look there.

Players get the opportunity to submit feedback and bug reports directly in the game with a comfortable interface and thus influence the development without much effort.

 Conclusion and opinion about Empires in Ruins
Conclusion and opinion about Empires in Ruins

Empires in Ruins Review – Conclusion and opinion

For an indie game of a small team just entering early access, the game is already surprisingly polished. The campaign includes a very entertaining story and for strategy fans an appealing game depth.

With more than 15 hours of playtime for the campaign and additional sandbox and arcade mode and a price between 15 and 20 euros, the price-performance ratio is also within the correct range.

I have had fun in this game and I will definitely continue to play it. Of course, you should like strategy and also a little number-optimizing, otherwise, you might find the game too dry.

I don’t really have much to complain about here, if you like the medieval setting and the kind of game, you can’t really go wrong here.

Empires in Ruins – Rating

Empires in Ruins Test - rating with numbers - 79%
Empires in Ruins Test – rating with numbers

This rating refers to the pre-Early Access version, which may receive further improvements by February 4th. And the more time will have passed after that, the rounder the game will most likely become.

Considering that it is a game of a small indie team and that the price is not too high at about 15-17 Euros, I would like to give Empires in Ruins an 85% base score in its current version.

A lack of localization will result in a 3% discount and minor flaws in UI design and balancing will cost a further 3%. This brings me to a final score of 79% for the currently offered game. With improvements during the early access phase the game has a good chance to reach the full 85%, or maybe even a bit more.

Empires in Ruins

Zap from ZapZockt.de

Empires in Ruins Game Review - 4X Strategy Tower-Defense Mix in Test (Deutsch-German,many subtitles)
Empire in Ruins, the turn-based 4X strategy and real-time strategy tower defense crossover in the Dark Ages.
In this post, I test the humorous medieval 4X Strategy Tower-Defense Indie game Empires in Ruins by Hammers & Ravens from Estonia. Round strategy, empire management and tower defense mixed with a lot of rough humor and dark ambiance.
Strategy
Tower Defense
Graphics
Sound
User-Interface
Genre Mix
Music

Empires in Ruins Rating

This rating refers to the pre-Early Access version, which may receive further improvements by February 4th. And the more time will have passed after that, the rounder the game will most likely become.
Considering that it is a game of a small indie team and that the price is not too high at about 15-17 Euros, I would like to give Empires in Ruins an 85% base score in its current version.
A lack of localization will result in a 3% discount and minor flaws in UI design and balancing will cost a further 3%. This brings me to a final score of 79% for the currently offered game. With improvements during the early access phase the game has a good chance to reach the full 85%, or maybe even a bit more.

4

Outro

Do you like rough humor and medieval strategy? Feel free to write me your opinion in the comments, also feedback to this website ZapZockt.de. Feedback to the video please under the video on YouTube, there the thumbs and subscription buttons are also released for use. Then I wish you a great day, ciao ciao, your Zap.

Developer-Website:
http://www.empiresinruins.com/

free Steam-Demo + Steam-Page:
https://store.steampowered.com/app/604510/Empires_in_Ruins/

4X Strategy:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4X

Developer Twitter:
https://twitter.com/EiR_TD

Developer Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/EmpiresInRuins/

Zap

Dirk "Zap" von ZapZockt.de, 40+ Gamer, zockt seit 1980 vor allem Strategie Titel, MMOs und Rollenspiele. Schreibt Game Reviews, Gaming News und auch mal über Technik, Hardware und YouTube. Mehr Infos findest Du unter Mehr über Zap lesen ◄----------► Dirk "Zap" from ZapZockt.de, 40+ gamer, has been gaming since 1980, mainly strategy titles, MMOs and RPGs. Writes game reviews, gaming news and also sometimes about technology, hardware and YouTube. Click here, if you want to read more about Zap.

You may also like...

scroll to top - nach oben