It’s finally time; after much deliberating and changing things around, I’m ready to give my countdown of my favorite games. We’re starting with one that I love to hate and came close to being ranked higher.
Putting an innovative spin on the real-time-strategy genre has been a uphill battle. Most developers don’t touch it anymore, and the ones that do typically focus on multiplayer. With They are Billions, the developers went in a different direction with a focus on turtling and singleplayer design.
What we got was a game that is all about surviving against an unending horde of zombies; with even just one getting into your base could spell disaster. The game challenges players to collect resources while preparing enough defense for the incoming infected.
With the game hitting 1.0, the developers released the campaign mode which has players surviving on fixed maps and having a progression of research to unlock.
As someone who has gotten tired of micro-focused RTS, They are Billions is the perfect counter game to that design. This is a game where it’s more important to think about defense placements than your key presses per minute.
Unfortunately, what keeps the game from ranking higher is also the very same reason many people have stopped playing in anger. They Are Billions does a horrible job of teaching the player what it means to survive. You may think that the campaign would serve as a tutorial, but locking essential tech behind the research system that new players wouldn’t know about is not good.
The game also features a controversial ironman saving system that prevents players from easily making manual saves, and more importantly, being able to see what went wrong and try to fix it. This is a game where you could spend hours building a base to find it destroyed and nothing to show for it. The later zombie types are explicitly designed to have set ways of dealing with them; that you won’t know what they are until after you fail to fight them a few time.
I also think the developers missed an opportunity to give more rewards for playing the game; such as new unit and building models, artwork, etc. The only modes in the game are survival and the campaign.
The base game mechanics are so good that I was willing to overlook some of these issues, but I’m a masochist at heart. The developers have the potential for a massive hit if they can finetune the experience with an expansion or sequel.
With that said, my #9 game is a blast from the past of the modern retro variety.
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