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Clockwork Empires (PC) Preview

A look at what happens when Victorians meet fishmen.

There are quite a few games around that deal with the building of settlements, and protecting and nuturing them.  Clockwork Empires is the latest one, and it manages to be both familiar and unique at the same time.  Developed by Gaslight Games, perhaps best known for ‘Dungeons of Dreadmor’, Clockwork Empires takes a Victorian empire building game and stuffs it full of steampunk elements and bizzare cosmic creatures.

Clockwork Empires is a sandbox game, allowing you to design your empire as you wish.  You start with a variety of resources, and you have to make use of the surrounding terrain to get extra resources to allow you to craft materials and build more.  Your peasants will collect and build, with your militia aiding in collecting mined resources, when they’ve got nothing else to do.

Perhaps one of the toughest resources to keep in stock is food for your particularly hungry subjects.  You can forage the local bushes and nests to get food, and you can also farm crops and use the crops to create more nourishing food, if you build a kitchen.  You just have to hope that they don’t eat the food on the way to your stockpile.

This would be a lot easier if you didn’t have to deal with the myriad of creatures who are unhappy with you encroaching on their territory, and will attack you on a regular basis.  It’s up to you to put your people into work groups and assign them to either be labourers or militia.  Your militia will chase after the enemy monsters while your labourers run away in panic or, occasionally, get into a fist fight with them.  Then, once the threat has been removed, it will be up to your citizens to clean up the mess.

All of your people have different personalities, along with different memories and feelings that shape who they are.  They can retain these memories for a while, or they can forget them through the use of alcohol and opium, which you can actually grow on your farms.  There isn’t really much in terms of micromanaging people.  They tend to automatically form groups with overseers, however you can assign them yourself should you wish.  Really, your management mostly consists of deciding what to craft in your buildings, making sure there’s sufficient resources to craft what you want and to keep your people alive, and ensuring there’s sufficient housing.

There is a basic tutorial in the game, which basically involves a few text screens to read, before dumping you in to the game to just build away.  The tutorial screens don’t give you a lot of information, though, and you’re mostly just left to figure things out yourself.  It took me a few attempts to get a feel for the game, but once I did, it was very enjoyable, and it’s slightly quirky sense of humour adds to it’s charm.

Clockwork Empires is still in early access, and isn’t quite finished yet.  I did find the game crashed on me a couple of times, although Gaslamp Games have gotten a lot of the bugs out of the game and it’s a lot more playable than before.  According to the game’s website, it is currently 80% complete at the time of writing, and updates are coming every month.  It’s shaping up to be a quirky and fun game.  This is one to keep an eye on.

Clockwork Empires is available to buy now through Steam Early Access, and through the game’s official website.

About Mike Jones

Mike is Brutal Gamer's Indie Editor. He has been playing video games since the early 90s and is fond of racing games, puzzlers and MMOs. Typing /played while in WoW makes him cry, but not enough to stop him playing some more.

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