Last Days Of Old Earth is the latest offering from our very good friends at Slitherine. Developed by Auroch Digital, it tells the tale of a future Earth where the sun is dying and the planet is covered with snow and ice. The few remaining tribes of humans have to defend themselves against the robotic population as both sides seek to build whatever life they can in the parts of the planet that are still inhabitable.
This game is currently in Early Access, and as such a lot of features are unavailable. However the core game is pretty much done. Currently the options available are Tutorial, single player Skirmish and Multiplayer. There is no single player campaign at present but it will be available in the full version. Despite that, I found Last Days Of Old Earth to be an interesting take on turn based strategy games.
As the commander of either the human Skywatcher tribe or the robotic Automata, your task in the available missions is to capture the opponent’s headquarters while defending your own. To do this you can build units and group them into armies. The map is hex-based, with each unit able to cover a certain amount of spaces per turn. You have resources that accumulate each turn which you can use to recruit your troops and heroes and send them out into the wastes.
So far it sounds pretty run-of-the-mill, right? Ah but that’s where the differences come in. You see, you recruit your troops from a deck of cards. Each turn, instead of spending your resource points to build troops from the cards in your hand, you can choose to draw new cards which will hopefully offer better units. It’s an interesting way of mixing a deck-building card game with a turn-based game and keeps an element of luck present.
Another difference is how battles between armies are played out. With traditional turn-based games the attacking unit fires at the defending unit, the defenders fire back if able, and both sides lose health. Here, attacking an enemy army plays out on a board, where you can position your units on your side of the battlefield and the enemy positions theirs. Dice are rolled to determine initiative, and then each soldier in the army makes an attack in turn. For each attack, the target is chosen, dice are rolled for attack and defence and damage is allocated. Once all units in an army are dead that army is defeated. It’s different and even though it sounds laborious it actually seems to work quite well.
I found the tutorial to be one of those that holds your hand for each button press, and I felt I was doing things because I was told to rather than actually learning how to play. When I played a skirmish game I felt that I learned a lot more about how to play. There is still a bit of a learning curve when it comes to working out what units work best together in an army and where on the battlefield they are best placed, but this is something that will come over time. It will be especially prominent when the deck-building features are in place.
Graphically the game looks a bit blocky, especially when the camera zooms in at certain points, but it is quite obvious what things are meant to be and after a while you just accept the look of the game. It sounds good too – when you’ve taken your turn and are waiting for your opponent you can hear the footsteps of their units as they get closer. The sound of the dice rolling is well rendered and the various gunshots/missile launches/explosions sound good as well.
I haven’t played the multiplayer yet – I’m hoping to get a game with one of my fellow FBF’ers, however this looks like it’s going to be a very interesting game. If I were to suggest improvements I would lean towards graphical enhancements – maybe make things a bit less blocky and a bit more textured – but that’s about it. The tutorial could use a bit of work as well, but apart from that I’ve enjoyed my time with this game thus far. I look forward to seeing what comes next.