Lost Empire: Immortals PC
Published by: Paradox Interactive
Developed by: Pollux Gamelabs
Release Date: Out Now
Some games have all of the ingredients to be a success but for some reason the end result isn't always what you would expect. Lost Empire: Immortals is one such game. The game is a deep and involving, space-based, turn-based strategy title that is huge in scale, offers plenty of depth and has all of the ingredients to be a classic. It doesn't quite turn out to be a classic however and in many respects that's disappointing. Hardcore fans of such games will forgive the imperfections but those who only occasionally dabble with such titles probably won't be so forgiving of how the game goes about certain things.
The year is 4026 and the galaxy is a complete shambles thanks to the War of the Immortals. The Eonian Immortals were almost completely wiped out by the Thari (you might have thought Immortals would be impervious to such destruction). The Thari were eventually defeated but now only two Eonian Immortals remain: Enais and Bythos. Both have set about the reconstruction of the Eonian Empire with the help of the most promising mortal races but before long selfishness and power lust crept in and they became enemies. Naturally the mortals in the galaxy were deeply affected by what had happened to the Eonians. There had been much destruction and much wisdom and technologies had been lost as they were caught in the crossfire. Thankfully the forgotten technology of space travel was recovered and now the various races find themselves in a race to explore and claim as much of the galaxy as possible. Of course they are faced with danger from each other and Enais and Bythos.
Lost Empire: Immortals is what has become known as a space-based 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate) strategy game in the same vein as the Master of Orion and Galactic Civilizations series. You'll pick your race of choice from Human, Tritons, Horde, Megalanians, Crystal Spirits and Alkiths. You'll pick the galaxy size and shape you want, the amount of minor races (up to 28) and the victory conditions before beginning the game with a single inhabited planet and a scout and colony ship that will allow you to explore and colonize another planet within moments. Of course you'll get to create more kinds of spacecraft and once your research bears fruit, you'll have access to rather formidable spacecraft but in the early stages your options are rather limited. There are many other things to research too that will help you improve agriculture and mining and other important aspects that will help your race thrive.
Exploring the galaxy isn't just what the game is about however. Soon you'll come across other races (either one of the other main races or one of the many minor races) and you'll have to conduct diplomacy with them. As with other areas of the game, initially your options are limited in this area but as the game progresses you'll have a variety of espionage options at your disposal and you can choose to be as friendly or as underhand as you please. The AI can be capricious however and this will irritate after a while. It's possible to meet a race, act friendly toward them and give them a gift, which elicits a gratifying response from them, only to have them attack you on the next turn. At times this can be incredibly frustrating. Sure it's not unrealistic to have this kind of duplicitous behaviour but you would like to see the relationship turning sour gradually which would give you the option to do something about it. I simply had a message that my scout ship had lost a battle which was deeply unsatisfying. The battles are in fact a big disappointment. You have no direct control of how a battle plays out and compared to the battle system employed in Galactic Civilization II, it's extremely disappointing. Given that conflict is a key element in the game this is actually a major knock against what is otherwise a fairly enjoyable experience.
From a presentation perspective, Immortals is fairly good. Whilst the game is 3D it plays out on a 2D plane. You can zoom in if you need to and the camera can be rotated. The spacecraft models are probably best described as decent and they aren't the most detailed we've seen in a game of this type. You'd expect all of the dialogue and tutorial messages in a game such as this to be in text and that's exactly how it is. It's good to see that the developers have taken the time to subtitle cutscenes, meaning that deaf gamers won't have any problems at all. Good use has been made of icons to convey information and the icons that have been used are all logical, which isn't always the case in a game such as this.
Lost Empire: Immortals does have plenty of things going for it. The involvement of Enais and Bythos and the complications they bring (do you choose to align with one or oppose both etc.) add extra spice to what is a deep and involving 4X strategy game. The galaxies are huge and there's a lot to do and many hours to spend playing a single game. Whilst there's a lot to do the game is fairly user friendly and I never found myself struggling to find out how to do something. The problems come in the shape of a poor battle system and an AI that decides to have wild mood swings whenever it feels like it, which not only aggravates but kind of makes the whole diplomatic process a waste of time. Those who enjoy 4X strategy games will find something to like here but there are better titles in the genre.