The Orient; it is largely regarded as being an outdated term for eastern civilizations, but in Oriental Empires, Shining Pixel Studios is bringing it back with a vengeance. A ”4X” strategy style vengeance. In other words, Oriental Empires is a historical strategy game that blends several objectives to win over your computer or player adversaries. This is our Oriental Empires Review.
Like most people who didn’t grow up in an Asian country, my Asian history is severely lacking. I’m being completely honest here when I say that I can’t tell my Shang from my Zhou, and if you’re like me – poor on history, those are dynasties and not something dirty. That being said, Oriental Empires harkens games like the Civilization series and the Total War style games. A player that has any RTS literacy should be able to pick this game up quite easily, taking note of the factions for their strengths and weaknesses, which all of them have several while learning a little backstory on their regions of origin. Many of the factions are locked for new players, but open up once you play the game, generally through an entire session from beginning to end (in some cases just 200 turns if that comes first).
Oriental Empires has a number of different ways to play, ranging from the Grand Campaign which will affront everything you knew of historical Chinese civilizations, which in my case was nothing, and take you through the ages and dynasties where you will either survive or perish on your merits of expansion management, trade, war and world building. My first foray into the ancient east was not very successful. I quite quickly ran out of money, had too many cities and, not really understanding the controls and menus very well initially, ended up not setting several potential advancements in motion at the end of my turns. Needless to say, I also decided to try and set up trade routes, leaving myself open to attacks and lost three of my five cities because I spent too much time fixated on making roads and finding resources rather than beefing up my defenses and military.
Luckily I was able to get one of my cities back, and make an alliance, to keep my failing empire afloat for a little longer, but one of my favorite things about Oriental Empires, is that you can get right up in the action and watch all your little minions do your bidding by zooming in and positioning the camera to your hearts’ content. In this way it feels a lot like the Total War franchise, which is certainly not a bad thing. In a nutshell Oriental Empires has a lot of opportunities like many real time strategy games for you to dominate and build your empire in a setting that’s slightly different than what we’ve seen to this point from 4X games. While the game is solid, the interface is kind of confusing and at times frustrating.
Oriental Empires is a fantastic option for seasoned RTS fans that are looking for something new and a little different. While this might not appeal to those that are either not excited about Asian culture or those not as familiar with strategy games due to the confusing menus and somewhat unclear “hints”, this certainly has its place in an RTS fans library especially at virtually half the price of other games of a similar nature.
Final Score: 6.8
- 4X strategy fun in an Asian setting
- Lots of different ways to win that includes large scale battles
- Poor menus and tutorial/hints on long term play
- Gameplay can get slow at times, even after increasing the speed of moves