When a maniacal villain is one step away from global domination, can a single, previously disused military outpost be enough to end his reign of terror? We better hope so! Brought to us from developer Abylight Studios, One Military Camp is a base builder/management title sprinkled with a generous helping of light-hearted humour that offers a good amount of content for fans of the genre, although those looking for something more in-depth may find the game lacking.
Our story starts with an innocent rubber duck being trampled on by the evil Dragan — the main antagonist — which, I think we can all agree, puts him up there with the likes of King Joffrey and Sephiroth as one of the most detestable villains of all time. Obviously, this isn’t a game with a serious tone; one of Dragan’s underlings in the opening cinematic has her troops cut the heads off of every flower in the region to alleviate her hay fever. It’s all very cartoony and silly, but some of the writing got genuine laughs out of me, giving a reason to not just skip past all the dialogue.
The rest of the story follows you in your quest to rebuild the ramshackle military base and end Dragan and his army’s stranglehold on various regions. You won’t find any deep, meaningful plot philosophising about the pointlessness of war, but One Military Camp is amusingly charming in its own goofy way.
Adding to the comedic tone of the game are the visuals; in particular the animations of each of your would-be troops. Watching them go about their daily lives: training, keeping themselves entertained, eating, and so on, was always guaranteed to result in some form of humorous goings-on, reminding me of The Sims or Two Point Hospital. Apart from the great animations, the visuals are lovely, reminiscent of classic cartoons that I used to love as a kid. Despite this being a war-torn nation, everything is bright and colourful, which certainly took that edge you’d normally find in gritty military strategy games off.
The audio is equally endearing, and although One Military Camp is not fully voice-acted, the little squeaks of joy when a squad member is enlisted or learns a new skill were always welcome sounds. Military tunes can be heard throughout the game and menus, and it’s exactly what you’d expect: percussion, horns, and brass instruments all blaring to give a real sense of patriotism.
If you’ve ever played any sort of base/city builder before, then you’ll be right at home here. If not, then the introductory tutorial does a great job of explaining everything you need to know to successfully keep your camp in tip-top shape. Every so often, new recruits will attempt to enlist in your ever-expanding army, at which point you can decide to welcome them with open arms or kick them to the curb. Each potential squaddie has positive and negative traits to take into consideration, so if you’re itching to train up a spy but find someone wanting to join up that’s a bit of a loud-mouth, it’s best to wait for the next recruit and stick the chatterbox in comms.
But where are all these new soldiers going to eat, sleep, and train? Well, it wouldn’t be much of a base builder if you couldn’t, y’know, build bases. Each category of building has plenty of options to choose from, from barracks to private housing, mess halls to full-blown cafeterias, and a wide range of specialist training centres to manage specific recruit’s career paths. You’ll need to factor in a number of things when placing buildings; entertainment areas should be kept apart from sleeping quarters to reduce noise pollution, each building needs electricity to be powered, and stockpiles of various items should be kept close to the structure that uses them to efficiently save time when stock needs replenishing. It isn’t overly complex, and veterans of the genre may find there isn’t too much micromanaging, but this makes it much more accessible to a wider audience!
You’ll be hopping in and out of menus to build new structures, checking your supplies aren’t running low, sending maintenance crews to fix rundown buildings, and so on. Thankfully, the user interface is slick, making it simple to find exactly which menu you need or which recruit you’ve lost in your sprawling military complex. That being said, some of the unit management can get a little too much, and some more automation on the AIs part is sorely needed. Sure, it’s simple enough to direct a recruit to the building they’re set to train at, or where their barracks are, but when your army begins to grow it quickly becomes a monotonous time sink and juggling act to keep everything in order. It’s not enough to put me off One Military Camp, but there were a few times when I saved and quit for the day as I just couldn’t muster up the effort to send a bunch of injured recruits to the infirmary as they shuffled around looking like extras from The Walking Dead.
So, you’ve trained some hard-as-nails recruits, stocked up on ammunition, and are all set to fight back against Dragan. What next? Well, it’s time to open up the world map and send those soldiers off to war! Which sounds much more exciting than it actually is, because the missions you take on are little more than watching a progression bar. Setting up for a mission is enjoyable: train specialists in the mission-specific fields, ensure the parameters are met, and ensure you have enough troops to stand a fighting chance. But the missions themselves are non-existent. Continue building your camp until the progress bar is filled, view the mission’s outcome, rinse and repeat. Or, at least, repeat for as long as you can afford it. Money is incredibly tight in One Military Camp, and though missions do provide an income boost, it’s perhaps a bigger fight to turn a profit than it is to overthrow Dragan and his forces.
Whilst certainly charming and humorous in equal measure, One Military Camp may be seen as a little too bare-bones for those gamers who are well-versed in this genre. Newcomers will no doubt love the game, and it’s accessible enough that it’s suitable for practically all ages. A few tweaks here and there and a more autonomous troop AI would have been great, and something more interactive when it comes to the missions would have cemented this game as a must-buy. Although it’s not all bad — in fact, I really enjoyed my time with One Military Camp — there are certainly better base builders out there for those wanting something a little more in-depth.
One Military Camp (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
Despite the needless busywork of some micromanaging and the missions feeling pointless, One Military Camp is a charming and often amusing base builder that’s accessible to a much wider audience than some of the more complex titles of the genre.