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I’m back with a new episode of Indie Corner! It’s been a while since the last episode, as May has been a difficult month for me. Fortunately, I seem to be back on the mend after a rough couple of weeks. I’ve been playing, as usual, quite a few games during my work downtime, and today I’m here with another couple of indie games that have caught my interest.
2022 might seem a bit thin on big releases right now, with several major delays and recent cancellations. It feels like AAA focused on the first quarter of the year, but that hasn’t stopped the indie scene from continuing to impress. That’s great news for me and for you because that’s been my main focus in writing for the last few years! We’ve seen some awesome games like Dune: Spice Wars, Captain of Industry, Songs of Conquest, Cantata, V Rising, and My Time at Sandrock launch via the Early Access program in the past several weeks. I’ve already reviewed Songs of Conquest and Cantata on the website, and you can check out the links here:
I’ll hopefully return to the others at some point. Captain of Industry is one that particularly grabbed my interest as a potential contender to the equivalent of ‘gaming cocaine’ in Factorio and Satisfactory. Time will tell whether that game can match those, as it takes a special thing to do so. V Rising is another one that I need to play more, but hopefully, I will in the coming weeks.
Let’s move into the main event with some more great titles I’ve been trying out recently!
I really miss historical strategy games.
There just aren’t many these days, and I wish I knew why. The biggest ones were the historical Total War franchise, which has gravitated towards the Warhammer series in recent years and seems to have left the historical era behind. Given how rough some of them were with Thrones of Britannia, the loss of Three Kingdoms’ support, and the Total War: Troy fiasco, no wonder they’ve switched completely over to the Warhammer franchise. Given how rough the third game has been so far, I’ve lost a lot of faith in the franchise.
There’s still hope, though. Roman history has some cool stuff that could transfer well into gaming experiences, and Warlord: Britannia is one of those games with enormous potential. The work of a single-man developer, Warlord is a historical, open-world strategy game about the Roman conquest of Britain. The cool thing about this game is that it’s entirely in the first person. The player takes command of a Roman general, under orders to conquer the island. While it has some significant rough edges with optimization and performance, the game oozes potential and charm, and it might be one of the sleeper hits of 2022. This is a very basic ‘early impressions’ review so far because I haven’t got much time in it, but it’s a fantastic concept and I’m excited to see how Warlord: Britannia progresses.
It starts off simply enough. The player begins with a small squad of legionaries on the southern coast of Britain, the island ripe for the taking. Following a simple set of tutorial prompts, the beginning involves building up a basic camp, learning how to gather resources for more buildings, getting defenses set up, and raiding villages. Capturing villages brings choices: leave them alone for resources and tribute, raze them for immediate bonuses but risk pissing off the locals? Actions have consequences, and I really like games that show what happens when you become an ass. In an early play, I sent my little legion to attack a village. The Celtic defenders were a little strong for me and I won, but I took heavy losses. In retaliation, I wiped out the village for the quick payout in gold to restore the losses I took. Well, I ended up pissing off everyone around me, and I got destroyed by a raid on my camp for which I was not prepared for.
It’s not perfect: it’s less optimized than I would like, with framerate drops, especially in larger battles and my units had a habit of getting stuck, but it’s receiving frequent updates and the developer so far is very active on his Discord. I want to give this game more attention with a full review once I’ve played some more, but what I’ve played I have enjoyed. Expect a longer article about this at some point!
Songs of Syx
It’s great when a game finally grabs me. Some stuff just doesn’t quite manage it on the first attempt. Sometimes, that’s not the game’s fault, but my own. Many of my favorite video games recently took me several attempts to enjoy them. Rimworld was one of those. It took me about 30 hours of in-game time and a lot of tutorials before I started grasping it properly. Now, it’s my most played game on Steam.
I’ve been playing a lot of Songs of Syx the past couple of weeks. A deep, complex colony sim created by a solo dev, I first discovered it while it was still an alpha on itch.io. It moved to Steam Early Access in late 2020 and has seen continued updates and patches ever since. It took me a long time to enjoy it, but now it might be one of my favorite recent indie titles. It’s often that the smallest dev teams dream of the biggest, and Songs is a formidable, ambitious title that has oodles of depth.
The developer, Gamatron AB, went into this fully aware that it’s difficult to market a video game. Unknown games can be difficult to get out into the wide world, in a vast ocean of competing titles vying for everyone’s attention and more importantly, money. It’s hard to do. Songs of Syx comes with a unique and incredibly generous demo. It’s the full game. You heard that correctly. There are no real limitations to the demo of Songs of Syx, apart from it being a couple of updates behind the paid version. There’s little difference between them, and the demo is frequently updated. This is a fantastic way to market the game. A lot of these colony sims can take many hours to learn. It certainly did for me, and with Steam having a 2-hour window to get a refund if they don’t click, that is sometimes not enough to see if a game really is for you or not.
At first glance, it might not be much to look at. With its archaic graphics, Songs of Syx won’t win any awards for looks, but that doesn’t matter. While there are plenty of competitors to this game on the market, having thousands of citizens fully animated is hard to pull off, and Songs does this brilliantly. Starting off from a few subjects into a massive, sprawling empire gives a massive rush, although I know it’ll take a while to get to that point. There are plenty of materials, buildings, and economic potential to unlock, with subjects requiring food and shelter to survive. There are animals to hunt, ore to mine, crops to grow, and people to manage. It’s a fantasy city builder with different races, all with their likes and dislikes. Balancing everyone so they are happy can be a challenge, with consequences if this fails. There’s even a military part to the game now, with army building and siege mechanics. All of this is rudimentary and will need balancing, but it’s a lot of fun to mess around with.
It’s not an easy game to learn. There’s a tutorial of sorts built into the game but it’s passable at best, so I’d recommend going onto Youtube and watching some guides, this one by Icon Gaming is a great way to work out how to learn. I’d also wish for more maps to play to provide more starting options, but these are minor nitpicks. Songs of Syx is a deeply ambitious gem, and despite a few stumbling blocks, it might be my favorite new colony sim game.