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ENDLESS LEGEND Review: The Turn-Based Fantasy Gig That We’ve All Needed

Have you ever been playing Civilization V and wondered what it would be like if you could willfully command an armada of dragons to ransack your enemy’s empire? Is the prospect of Ghandi nuking you be turn three not enough of an escape from reality for you to properly enjoy the epic turn-based strategy game that Fireaxis was going for? Do you feel that other 4x – eXplore, eXploit, eXpand, eXterminate, hence the 4X – strategy games just didn’t satisfy that niggling desire for grand warfare set to a backdrop of high fantasy?

Well, does AMPLITUDE Studios have a game for you. From the makers of the successful Dungeon of the Endless and Endless Space comes another title bearing that all-too-familiar ‘Endless” moniker: Endless Legends. A unique take on the strategy genre with a bit of RPG elements mixed in for good measure, AMPLITUDE’s epic fantasy command-’em-up will ensure that those precious minutes not playing Civilization V will be instead spent furthering the goals of your totalitarian oppressive regime in this colorful land of make-believe (or promote peace and understanding between the races like a sensible individual if you are so inclined).

Story: Cataclysm Looms…

The entire premise of Endless Legend revolves around the planet of Auriga, a plane of magic and wonderment that is on the brink of collapse due to some plot-driven reason and it is up to your faction to solve this issue in their own unique and personal way. Much like each faction has a different art direction so to must they have different motives. Whether they be simplistic world domination or political stability through mutual understanding, each faction has their own drive to succeed in this crumbling world.

To be honest there isn’t really much to the story other than that typical “the world’s ending, bro” but the interesting character lore does just enough to give this game a pass in that regard.

In a sense, it’s a lot like the art direction. Bright and vibrant with all that fantasy flair to draw the viewer in so that the engaging gameplay can really have its way with them. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s all pointless.

When you aren’t smiting your enemies with superior tactics you can take a moment and read up on some really interesting lore. After all, the looming cataclysm promises to be a global pandemic and catastrophes of this caliber tend to become really good character builders.

Let’s take, for example, the Broken Lords, the cadre of spirit knights that feed on the souls of others to live which apparently goes against their honor code. With this major event hanging in the distance like some Eldritch black mist many within the group are attempting to find a way to live without draining the lives of others, but others seem a bit less inclined to give up the power that soul-eating has brought them.

It’s always something interesting, reading through the Endless Legend lore page, but then again it’s not really the main reason I paid $35 dollars for the title. It’s a nice distraction from the empire building and serves its purpose immersing the player in this fantastic world.

Gameplay: Familiar Faces and Engaging Places

As a company intrinsically dedicated to the genre of strategy with games like the RTS rogue-like Dungeon of the Endless and the epic space simulator of Endless Space in their rather limited roster of titles, AMPLITUDE treads new ground in the realm of 4X turn-based strategy empire building.

To be frank, the first few minutes of Endless Legends left me with more of an impression of this aforementioned Sid Meier’s creation than I was hoping for but that might just be because many of the features the Civilization franchise made popular are now staples of the genre.

You can engage the other empires in diplomacy, you can forge fragile alliances with tenuous leaders who are equally as prone to stab you in the back, you can even spend your days building up a massive army to beset against your foes in an attempt to usurp power via force, it’s got all the hallmarks of a classic empire-builder.

However, much unlike the typical 4X  game that rely on a technological tree to determine the player’s progress through time, Endless Legend seems content just handing them all to you at once on neat little ‘era’ plates and having you decide which ones seem more important.

Will you go for that extra boost in food production or do the empire’s coffers need a bit more lining? Choose wisely because sometimes you might just have only enough time to research one of them and winter is coming…

Source: twcenter.net

Source: twcenter.net

Rather unique element that they’ve added to the game: winter. One that I haven’t seen applied in any other empire-building simulator (that I’ve played, at least). It comes rather unpredictably and it can more often than not catch you and your people unprepared for the cold months and then suddenly you will see a drastic drop in production, your granaries will shrivel and your subjects will begin to die in this cold onslaught (think The Long Dark only on an epic nation-wide scale).

But other players and the unforgiving wilderness aren’t the only things seeking to harrow that week vulnerable empire of yours, the minor factions of this hostile fantasy world also want their cut of the player-pie. Unlike the city-states of Civilization V that seemed more than enough content to bide their days away in their tiny areas, the factions of Endless Legend start off integrated into the land that you, the player are seeking to cultivate and will consistently spit out roving bands of mythical marauders until you can either stay their blades with words or with bigger blades.

It’s a constantly evolving land, newly discovered technologies might often uncover ancient ruins waiting to be exploited or the foundations to massive watchtowers that can monitor your kingdom from within. But fortunately, there’s a constant beacon of hope for your people to look towards: your hero.

Here’s where the RPG mechanics start to come into play. Each faction starts off with an appropriate hero with skills and strengths that levels up through their travels and granting access to unique perk trees that can shape the play style of said hero. Will they be a city-bound paragon capable of inspiring awe in your denizens or will they serve as a commander in your army, a tool of your almighty strength and the means by which you dispense justice.

As your empire grows in might than so to will your hero and in order to challenge the growing problems that any burgeoning dynasty would face you need to craft or find new weapons and arms to garb your vast army. Yet, crafting is just the tip of this proverbial iceberg, dotted across the landscape are ancient ruins that can contain anything ranging from treasure and resources for your growing nation to quests that may unlock devices of ultimate power for your heroes to use.

It’s a unique mix of RPG skill-management turn-based strategy gameplay that is an oddly satisfying experience that caters to a wide variety of play styles. Though it might not be that much of a difficult transition from Civilization VEndless Legend does enough to define itself among the other giants of the genre.

Art-Style: Epic Fantasy in HD

As far as art-styles go, the world of Endless Legend seems centered around this hexagonal format with an emphasis on individual regions segmented up with the occasional resource or anomaly to spice up the monotony every once in a while. It’s pretty much that all-too-familiar Civilization V layout with those neat little luxury and strategic resources replaced with their fantasy counterparts.

The individual factions that vie for control over this torn continent, however, each have their own style to them rather than just the typical unit and settlement swap. Let’s take the Drakken, a race of dragons and anthropomorphic reptilians that – much unlike the traditional image of dragons as gold-hungry monsters – seek peace and understanding among the races of Endless Legend.

Source: twcenter.net

Source: twcenter.net

Their cities jut high into the sky piercing the heavens with their towers of gold and ebony, their people bearing the traditional hallmarks of any dragon-descendant race. Some bear the wings of their ancestors while others, stricken with the curse of the cataclysm that had stricken the world, stand devoid of their lineage, Drakken only in a few discernible features alone.

Each race tends to have their own certain theme to them, the insectoid Necrophages are typically depicted as swarming, chittering monstrosities that only seek to consume and destroy, their cities misshapen and disjointed hives to house the massive colony. The Broken Lords, an ancient race of spirit knights that, despite their talk of morality and honor, must consume the life force of others to continue are garbed in suits of glittering armor with an eerie glow emanating their being. Their cities, aptly enough, are usually depicted as a sort of twisted Gothic graveyard as if to accentuate the fact that they are indeed undead knights.

It’s interesting to see where the developers took each faction and it gives the entire game a rather unique fantasy aesthetic. That, coupled with the vibrant and inviting colors, creates a stunning visual experience that I can safely say I haven’t seen in any other title within the genre.

Gameplay: 5/5

  • Smart and engaging empire management.
  • Unique blend of RPG and turn-based mechanics.
  • Different factions with a unique set of units at their command.
  • Quests and legendary artifacts out there to discover.

Art-Direction: 4.5/5

  • Vibrant and colorful, very visually appealing.
  • Each faction has their own unique style, very distinguishable from one another.
  • Not the main point of the game.

Story: 4/5

  • Interesting lore tidbits.
  • Offers insight into the motivations behind each race.
  • Again, not the main point of a turn-based 4X strategy game.

Overall: 4.5/5

I don’t know what it is about Endless Legend that has me so enamored with it. It might be the engaging gameplay or it might even be the vibrant colors that melt all over my face like a huge dollop of frozen custard. Regardless of my feelings, the game offers a fun experience that any hardcore fan of the turn-based 4X empire-build’m up can enjoy.

Though it might have a few shortcomings keeping it from attaining perfection – I personally found it a bit difficult to micromanage every little niggling detail of my empire – the game will provide an endless (Get it, endless. Cuz, you know, the game’s Endless Legends) amount of entertainment for those that haven’t exactly had their ‘strategy’ fix from titles like Civilization V or Fallen Enchantress.

4.5 out of 5 stars

4.5 out of 5 stars

 

 

 

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Categories: Video Game Reviews

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