PREVIEW: Empires in Ruins

Empires in Ruins is a pretty unique game that combines the 4X and Tower Defense genres in a way that actually works, surprisingly. One to keep an eye on.

Released: Steam Early Access
Type: Single-player
Genre: Strategy, 4X, Tower Defense
Developer: Hammer&Ravens
Publisher: Hammer&Ravens
Release date: 4 February, 2019


Empires in Ruins is a pretty unique strategy that combines the 4X and Tower Defense genres. At first glance, it doesn’t sound like these two genres would mix very well but the developers managed to do it in a way that actually works quite well. The game is currently making its way through Early Access so there’s obviously features that will be improved upon as the game continues its development, so I’ll keep the review short as it’s subject to change in the future. If the game sounds like something you’d be interested in, do read on to find out a bit more about the game.

The campaign map, any area in green are those that you control while orange are controlled by the enemy.


Empires in Ruins features a full campaign mode where you play as a rather unlikable character named Sergeant Hans Heimer, who is a rather uncouth and all around not a very pleasant person. He is tasked with quelling a rebellion amongst the peasantry which is where the 4X portion of the game takes place.

The campaign map (As pictured above) allows you to manage your war efforts and give orders to your troops and territories. You start with only one territory but as you muster your forces you can take over new territories through battle.

You also have access to tech research as well which can be used to improve your towers for battles, your soldiers/workers, and your resources and buildings. In the campaign mode the tech you can research is limited by the chapter you’re on in the story. If you’re playing in free mode (Which is another game mode tied to the campaign but without the story) you’re able to freely research anything you want.

In the settlement management screen you can raise/lower taxes, change the garrison/army, assign a governor, and select things to construct in the settlement. If a governor is assigned, buildings will automatically be built but you can choose them yourself if you need something specific built.

Gameplay-wise I found the game to be quite fun. I will admit that I didn’t really care for the main character much (He’s a “jerk” to put it lightly, I could say far worse things but I won’t). So that kinda made me lose interest in the story a bit. Thankfully there’s a free mode which allows you to play the campaign without the story attached so you can just enjoy the gameplay.

One of many battle screens. Here you build towers to defend your town. Though, it makes little sense when you’re attacking that you need to be defending.


When you attack a territory, you’re given the option to auto-resolve the battle, or to fight the battle yourself. If you choose to fight the battle yourself, you’re taken to a battle map where the battle will take place. The battle doesn’t officially begin until you hit the fight button so you’re given some time to prepare your towers and buildings for the coming battle.

You start the game with only a few meager towers: the scout, the archery and the cannon one. These towers can be upgraded using resources you gather using your buildings or by defeating enemies.

When a wave is defeated you’re given some time in between waves to upgrade your towers, build new towers/buildings or repair any damaged buildings/towers. I found myself skipping to the next battle at around the 50 seconds remaining mark so there’s ample time to get yourself situated. In the early stages of the game, resources build up pretty slowly so upgrades tend to be few and far between. As you obtain more upgrades through research, you’ll be able to upgrade your towers more readily.

One of the archery towers in a snowy region of the game.


Overall, while I didn’t really find the main character of the campaign very interesting as a character, I did, however, enjoy the gameplay quite a lot. The game already shows a lot of promise and with some more polish, it could be pretty awesome. I won’t give the game a score as this is merely a preview of the game, but I’ll be keeping my eye on the game for sure.

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February 2020

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