December 7, 2012 2:00 AM | Staff
[Guest reviewer Colin Brown profiles each game in the Winter Bundle available now on IndieGames' co-created site Indie Royale.]
Strategy games are a particular favourite of mine, whether it be a grandiose 4X empire builder or a small scale squad based strategy. Real time or turn based, no matter the complexity, I'm there. What's most interesting to me, however, is that I rarely come across a strategy game like Vanguard Games' Greed Corp. Even the simplest strategy games tend to have tons of different systems and gameplay mechanics, but not here. Indeed, there is nothing quite like Greed Corp in the strategy world simply because it plays less like a strategy game and more like a board game. Mind you, it's a board game that would never quite work as a real thing, with the multi-tiered levels, helpful UI, wonderful unit designs, shiny explosions and an excellent Roaring Twenties soundtrack. Still, the comparison is very apt, as Greed Corp features the exact sort of pick up and play simplicity that all of my favourite board games feature, while retaining a lot of tactical depth.
Greed Corp starts each map with you and two to four opponents in control of a handful of hexes. The objective is to capture all of your opponent's hexes without losing your own, but the simplistic genius comes in when you look at your tool box for doing so. Unlike most strategy games, you have access to just three buildings and only one type of unit, called a Walker. Walkers can jump three squares of your own territory, or capture one space to convert it to your colours. They can fight, but there's no dice rolls or random chance--Walkers cancel each other out, so the remainder of the greater number is all that is left. There are a couple of other additions like long distance cannons and flying transports, but overall your tactical options are quite slim, making the game almost chess-like in its simplicity. This is a very good thing.
Which brings us to the main mechanic of Greed Corp. While you gain some money per round, the main source of cash is your Harvesters. These Harvesters grant coins every round, but they also tear apart the land and lower each surrounding hex by one level until they drill right down into the abyss. This means you need to tear apart your own landscape to fund your battle, trading stability and territory for money. Drill too deep, and an errant cannon blast could easily destroy a chunk of your units. Havesters can even be impromptu weapons, as a self destruct command can cause a chain reaction and level your opponent's buildings. It's a fascinating, ecology focused spin on managing expansionism, with the side effect of making each battlefield uniquely filled with strategic opportunities, choke points and dangerous low elevations.
I generally found the AI to be a bit silly and lackluster at times, but the campaign offers a great way to practice for a multiplayer match. Indeed, the way I enjoyed the game the most was through local multiplayer matches with my non-gaming girlfriend. The aforementioned board game simplicity offers a game that is easy to learn and tough to master, with a whole host of strategies available to use through the simple rules. Maybe you prefer legions of orcs rolling dice against each other (and if so, Indie Royale has you covered too with Conquest of Elysium 3), but if you're after a certain degree of deep simplicity, Greed Corp is a well designed game to fit that lovely oxymoron.
[Hamlet, Greed Corp, Bit.Trip Runner, Conquest of Elysium 3, Leave Home, and They Breathe are available in the Winter Bundle now at Indie Royale.]