PREVIEW: SteamCity Chronicles – Rise Of The Rose

May
27

PREVIEW: SteamCity Chronicles – Rise Of The Rose

Rise up and liberate your people from the extreme capitalist order imposed by the morally corrupt Yamagami Corporation in a Japanese-influenced steampunk setting.

Upcoming: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Strategy
Developer: FeelThere
Publisher: FeelThere
Release date: Coming soon!

Overview

Strategy is without a doubt my genre of choice. The ones that are designed well provide countless, if not limitless, hours of entertainment that others struggle to compete with. As a glutton for punishment, I’m always on the lookout for my next new addiction to add to the roster of awesome games that can be replayed forever. I may not have anywhere near the time to play the many fantastic games on the back burner, but hey, I may as well throw some more on there, right? Sorry, Endless Space 2, I’ll get to you one day!

After running across some screenshot previews of SteamCity Chronicles – Rise of the Rose, I wasn’t convinced that it was going to be a new hit for me, though it did look like it had plenty of potential. There are far worse settings than dystopian steampunk as the political ideologies taken to the extreme and experimental technology that never made it much past the prototype stage are combined for some wild scenarios. That said, in its current state, this title didn’t live up to the initial expectations that I had for it, more concerning its lack of fluid gameplay than the primary aspects of that gameplay itself.

Pursuit of Profit

Rise of the Rose’s is set in a city that was formerly an idyllic settlement before it was overtaken by the Yamagami Corporation. It’s a dystopian nightmare of laissez-faire capitalism taken to its extreme where the populace is seen as little more than cogs in the machine and every decision is made to maximize profit. Even the benevolent ruling family was rounded up and executed to ensure the dominance of Yamagami. Well, all but one, a baby, and that’s certainly a mistake that comes back to bite them.

Character designs are certainly steampunk, but some of them seem like odd choices that were thrown together.

This baby grows into the first hero on your roster, a young woman that leads your resistance against them. You’ll meet more along the way, as well as groups of nondescript militia and burly mechs, and you’ll need to use each to their fullest to overcome the foe that you face.

Mad scientist? Why not? He packs a solid punch.

The story itself is decent enough and does a good job of building the underdog feel and the tension that goes with it. There isn’t any voice acting, which isn’t a complete surprise, but combined with the relatively simple gameplay, it does lend it a more indie experience than some might be expecting. Character development is also quite lacking as there is very little in the way of cutscenes or conversation, it’s one mission after the next. I hope to see more development on the potentially interesting story and characters as it’s clear a good amount of work went into what’s already here. I’d like to learn more about their world and it’d be great to see it there when the game is released.

Maps tend to be quite large and pleasing to the eye.

Steam-Powered Robots and Guerilla Warfare

The missions, and the combat within, are the clear primary focus of Rise of the Rose. Each mission is composed of many turns where each hero and mech unit receives three action points that can be used for movement, attacking, sentry (overwatch for XCOM fans), and other unit-specific abilities. On the other hand, militias are less efficient units that are given orders in groups that they carry out in-between your turns instead of being controlled directly. All of these units can be trained and upgraded on their related trees (hero, militia, mech), each with varying improvements available. These were all useful, but my personal favorite was the path on the hero tree that let you turn members of the militia into full-blown (though not unique) heroes, granting you some additional control over your forces during combat.

Skill trees only have a handful of skills to choose from each, but they can have quite an impact on your resistance’s efficiency.

The overall feel of this title is far more tabletop than XCOM. There isn’t a grid and your units all look like miniatures that you’re sliding around the scenery as they move. This may take away a good amount of the cinematic feel for some, though my greatest complaint wasn’t with the emphasis on the tabletop simulation, but with the insane amount of time that I spent waiting for it to be my turn again. The AI takes a bizarre amount of time to move their units and there aren’t any settings to speed up their animation. On one of the missions, I was literally waiting twice as long for the enemy and dozens of neutral citizens (units that had little if any impact on the actual battle itself) to take their turns than I was taking on my own. This killed the momentum for and enjoyment for me fairly often and turned missions into a slog that very well may have been fun if it didn’t feel like I was blowing a lot more of my time than I needed to. To add to this, throw on some pretty significant pathing issues for the squads of militia who seem to struggle with the orders that you give them as well as long missions with no checkpoints and no option to save, and you’ll quickly be wishing that you could keep actually playing the in front of you. A game that’s currently more frustrating than fun.

Did you want monsters in your steampunk? You can have monsters in your steampunk.

Final Thoughts

Rise of the Rose contains several elements that could combine to make a pretty good game if some of the more egregious flaws are remedied, especially the pathing that wastes your units turns and the extraordinarily long AI turns. However, to truly make itself shine instead of just being functional, not only fixes but some more depth is desperately need to keep a player like me interested. As is, many systems could use some additional depth to make them more exciting and interesting. In its current state, I can’t recommend Rise of the Rose over other games that it would compete with for your time, though I can say that there are some interesting parts that, if used well for the final product, could make this one worth it for you once it hits its full release.

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