A giant battle of epic proportions is about to begin! Which tribe will you count on to bring you to victory in The Battle for Polytopia? There are several tribes to choose from and each start with a specific technology to truly vary your experience. You have the power to make the game as easy or difficult as you want. If you are looking for turn-based, resource management, and tactical strategic gameplay, then this is the game for you!
The menu is full of options to get your battle ready. You can play a standard 30-turn battle or a dominion-style match, where the object is to defeat all the other players. Other options include selecting the difficulty level of any bots, the number of players, and the map size. Each world is randomly generated, so you will never have the same battle twice. There is also a local multiplayer mode, where it’s best to pass a Switch between your friends so each player doesn’t reveal their strategy.
There is a technology tree, where you can spend your primary resource, stars, with a variety of abilities to unlock, each with five main branches and two sub-branches. Some skills allow you to navigate the map easier, such as road building, climbing, or sailing. Others allow you to build up the land within your borders with harvesting, farming, forestry, and mining. Numerous skills include the ability to purchase additional troops to help explore the map and battle any players. At the start of each turn, you are awarded stars based on the population of your capital and any towns or villages you conquer along the way. To increase the population, you can build roads, housing structures, harvest fruits, and hunt animals in any space within your kingdom. When the city levels up, you can earn bonus rewards to further expand your kingdom.
I enjoyed this style of gameplay, as I got to determine the path forward and budget or spend the resource as I saw fit. I loved exploring the map and being able to expand my kingdom. I felt that the boot camp tutorial did a great job explaining how to play. I also appreciate the suggestions made when your kingdom gets too large and may need a reminder to move a unit or to interact with the land in your kingdom. While the suggestions can be turned off, I do feel they need improvement as well. Locating a tiny heart can be cumbersome and having the option to take the player to the location would be appreciated greatly. A final improvement would be a skip function, since there are times when you may not want to perform the suggested action, and moving onwards to the next is greatly desired. While there is a lot to grasp, it is not overwhelming, as most maps are manageable.
One other area that I feel needs improvement is the controls. The did not feel like they were not implemented for a controller, but rather for a mouse and keyboard. The D-pad and left control stick move a pointer, which makes selecting some things more difficult. There is a snap or jump-style movement when moving from one icon to the next that was not very fluid. Another example is when moving units on the map or doing battle with an enemy unit, the information box can block the tile you are trying to select. So you have to zoom out or scroll the map in a way to get what you want on the screen. The bigger miss is the movement, though. If it was more fluid, I feel neither of the other issues would be much of a problem.
Some players may not appreciate the block-like nature of the art style, but for a simple tactic-style game, it works for me. The elements and icons are simple yet distinguished to indicate what something is. You can also zoom in for a closer look if needed. There is a help icon on everything, which provides details of what the it does or what its stats are. This even applies to the technology tree prior to purchasing a skill. The music and sound effects are simple yet effective. Each tribe has its own music track to listen to while playing. There are some areas of the map that take a relaxed approach and have nature sounds that help change up the variety. While I did not find any particular tracks to be memorable, they still made the world feel alive.
With a nearly endless amount of maps to play and different potential strategies, The Battle of Polytopia is an enjoyable experience, especially for those who enjoy turn-based tactical games. With the amount of depth and replayability, there are easily dozens of hours of enjoyment here. The suggestion system may need a few improvements and the controls can be clunky at times, but those are things that are easily fixable with an update. What is present still stands as an enjoyable experience that tactics fans will play for hours.
Final Score: 8/10 – Recommended
Game: The Battle for Polytopia
DLC cost (additional tribes): $4.99 / $14.99 bundle