Shadow Empire Review

By Joe Robinson 04 Jun 2020 0

Shadow Empire Review

Released 04 Jun 2020

Developer: Matrix Games
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Available from:
Direct

If you took a 4X Strategy game, something like that post-apocalyptic game mode they released for Civilization 6 last year maybe, threw in a healthy dose of Crusader Kings-like political & RPG mechanics and then fused it with a fairly hardcore turn-based war game, you'd get Shadow Empire.

Make no mistake, this is not really a 'casual' game - there are menus. Lots of menus. This is game that looks like it was designed in 1996 but accidentally fell through a portal and turned up in 2020 instead. But you know what? It works.

Shadow Empire puts in you charge of one of the surviving factions of a galaxy-wide apocalypse. Every game begins with the same 'planet generation' step where you quickly create a world, destroy it, and then set-up the conditions that you and the other surviving factions will be fighting for. It's like Age of Wonders: Planetfall meets Mad Max, except the variability in faction and planet design means you could also be in anything from Frank Herbert's Dune, to Warhammer 40,000.

You start with a small domain, and must explore the world around you to see who else is there. It's typical 4X fair, except you're also kind of playing a hex-and-counter based wargame. There's lots of the different unit types, and you can create diverse armies and design new units as your technology improves. Your cities can expand to exploit new resources, but you must also construct rail lines and rail heads to make sure supplies get to where they're needed. Handy, if you're on a desolate moon and your army is camped outside of a sealed dome.

Shadow Empire Review

It's not an especially pretty game - this is kind of 'indie' project that old-timer wargame studios tend to put out. You'll have to get past the aged graphics and masses of UI menus and tiny buttons, but for those that try, a rewarding world of wonder awaits you. Our sister site Wargamer.com has the full review, and they had this to say:

Enthralling me is exactly what Shadow Empire has done though, every time I sat down to write this review I thought to myself, “Well, I should probably play a little more, just to make sure everything stays consistent for a little while longer.” I would play for hours. I don’t think there’s much higher praise to be given to a game. I would like more, of course. I started seeing some repeated events pop up with my staff here and there, for example. I would love to see naval and air combat get some love, and if I’m being really ambitious, I would love to see the game venture back into space once your first planet is conquered. There was an entire galaxy of humans before the fall, after all. If you’re interested in 4X games, or even more into traditional wargames and want to see something that gives greater weight to the consequences of combat, give Shadow Empire a try. There’s really been nothing like it in quite a long time and I doubt we’ll see it’s like again.

Shadow Empire is currently only available directly from the Matrix Store, but a Steam release is planned at some point in the future.

Shadow Empire Review

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