Something that is always fun to see at gaming conventions, particularly Rezzed with its indie focus, is the theme. Each year, there is a style or genre of game that stands out on a lot of games, and this year it was turn-based tactics games. I’ve already previewed Attack of the Earthlings and there were plenty of others I saw and just didn’t have the time to play - but Augmented Empire was something else.
Most of these games try to do something different, but Augmented Empire is probably the easiest difference to demonstrate: it plays on a Samsung Gear VR, and was built around that control set perfectly. You control at least one character in the usual grid-based world with all the usual tactical options, except it’s all controlled with one button. You look at what you want to do and the contextual menus help you select an action.
The other biggest thing that separates Augmented Empire from other games in the genre is an action bar. Instead of each action having a percentage chance to happen, an action bar minigame gives you a chance to decide your own fate. The better the chance of success, the larger the action zone is. This means you won’t miss those 75% chance to hit shots unless you really mess it up. This doesn’t just apply to your attacks either, as you can dodge with the same mechanic.
All of this takes place in a wonderfully detailed cyberpunk world, one that reminded me instantly of Blade Runner. Everything looked dystopian and dark, but completely lived in. I was amazed at how this game looked, bearing in mind it was running on a mobile phone. The levels are all small - small enough to fit completely on the screen - but the cut-off points are stylistically designed with a blue border to make it look like you’re viewing the scenario from a tactical display.
Augmented Empire is set to come out in 2017 on Samsung Gear VR.