To The Green is a weekly look at one game on Steam Greenlight trying to get onto Steam. Many games get mired in the process trying to get there, caught up with abandoned projects, shovelware, and other things. With To The Green we hope to highlight one worthy game each week that is attempting to get on Steam and let you decide if it is something you’d be interested in buying.
Apollo 4x is the latest game to catch my eye in Greenlight and we’ll be discussing it today. It is, as its name suggests a 4x game but it is a very different 4x then the ones you are used to. Most 4x games tend to stay in the box established by Civilization back in 1991. Some will experiment a bit outside the box of basics – pushing a bit here or a bit there with a new idea or two. In the end most games work with the box, manipulating it but still referencing and using the box heavily.
Apollo 4x doesn’t bother looking at the box for more than a few seconds to help jot down some very basic notes and then tosses out most of it. You aren’t going to be using tiles here, using tech trees, or be making food, industry, science, and such that you normally are. Instead Apollo 4x draws inspiration from sources historical, and in other game genres. The first, is that it draws on the idea of the East India Company of a trading company coming to rule between a dominance of trade and private armies in much of India. The second is tycoon games, though unlike those Apollo 4x isn’t focused on the small details of each building.
In the game you play as the Apollo corporation – a wealthy trading company. In it, you trade among the stars that are colonized by humanity. Different corporations that you place are on the planets, each wanting different demands depending on the corporations that alternate between a couple of choices. The prices fluctuate as well, on both purchasing and selling depending on it, and so the trade routes you design each turn affect how much money you are able to get from the trading.
That money in turn (called capital) is used to buy points in things like Market, Administration, Infrastructure, Spaceships and Military. These points can be used for a variety of things such as building cities, hiring armies, creating trade convoys, and colonizing new planets.
However, their main use is in fulfilling planetary demands. Each turn, each planet you have colonized will put up a demand that they want fulfilled. These demands are based on things colony’s need like policing, improving infrastructure, delivering aide or so forth and are paid for in using the market, administration, infrastructure, spaceships, and military points that you buy. Each one of these things you deal with costs a certain amount of clout and generate favor.
Clout is used when wanting to manipulate or deal with many things. Whether that is resolving some colonial demand, arranging an exploratory mission, or other things you’ve gained access to clout is how you resolve it. You get clout each turn for the good work you've done and get more by improving quality of life on planets.
Favor is gotten by dealing with colonial demands and you can bring them into the fold by spending it. Each colony you bring in that way also gives special abilities that you can use, allowing for customized playthroughs. Some examples are market manipulation, planet exploration, special combat moves, among others.
Despite the heavy economic CEO level focus of Apollo 4x, Combat is still a part of the game. After all, what’s forced the Apollo corporation to start this change is that the Centaur hordes are spreading. Intelligent ravagers of worlds, the Centaurs slowly spread on the world map, conquering the nearest planet to them when they are ready to spread. They travel through space on their own as a sort of odd space being that wants nothing more than to consume everything it comes across. There are 4 factions of Centaur in the game, and each of them has their own theme, units, and battle style.
Combat isn't in space though, instead done on planets with the Centaurs using what you can train. It is resolved using a card based system where each unit you enter into battle has its own card and can fight certain enemy ones depending on the set up. The system is a bit confusing right now, due to being a bit short in tutorial but how it works is that you have 3 different main maneuvers that each unit can do. Each one sets a specific number to that units Attack, Defense, and Morale for the turn which face the enemy’s numbers in those area and then life points, and morale are removed from each side as appropriate. Some attacks and units can do damage without boosting their attack, skipping defense though this isn't really explained at the moment from the enemy side… but for the units you have it is a maneuver choice.
I apologize if this all seems like its dumping a ton on it, but there is a lot of ideas in Apollo 4x, even if it plays simpler then the way I’m describing it. There are a lot of patterns to it and rhythm that develops as you get used to it, allowing you to think more on some areas as you are adjusted.
The game isn’t necessarily for everyone, as it plays quite differently from the typical 4x game. It is heavily economic focused with a different sort of combat system that I hope to figure out better as I learn it more. The game is still being worked on, so there are some trouble spots that need to be looked at such as the User Interface (Which can take a while to get accustomed to trying to find your planets), and the tutorial sections.
However, if you were looking for a 4x game that applied bits of economic theory to it, or just for something that is innovative on that area I suggest looking at Apollo 4x. It is currently in Early Access on Gamersgate and is looking for Alpha testers on its website (primarily, but not exclusively, from Early Access buyers) - which also has more information on the game. It is also, obviously, on Greenlight, where we encourage everyone to vote for it, and you can see a trailer for it below.
Do you know a game that’s in Greenlight that you think we should take a look at? If so, send an email to [email protected] or share your thoughts in the comments below!