Genre: 4x, Strategy, Turn-Based Strategy, Historical
Developers | Publishers: AMPLITUDE Studios | SEGA
Controller Support: No, Keyboard and Mouse
Price: US $49.99 | UK £39.99 | EU € 49,99
Release Date: August 17th, 2021
Review code used, with many thanks to AMPLITUDE Studios
HUMANKIND is a new 4x strategy game from developers Amplitude Studios. It has been compared to one of my favourite franchises Civilization. It may look a lot like Civilization but is it a Civ clone or does it do enough different to stand on its own? Let’s find out!
At the very beginning of the game, you customise your avatar. You can choose, facial expressions, head shape, hair, and so on. You can even give your avatar a personality. The avatar creation process is fairly flexible and has good details in it. If you are new to 4x strategy games there is a comprehensive tutorial in the game. From an encyclopedia to nine tutorial videos, and a tutorial as you play through the game.
If you’re an old hand at 4x strategy games you can jump straight to setting up your own game requirements. You can choose the size of the map as well as many typical variables. Such as resource levels, high or low, terrain types, the number of continents, and so on.
Pick your competitors and all the usual settings you find in 4x strategy games. The maps that the game generates seem to work out well for the most part. Though the biggest map doesn’t seem that big to me. You can choose to play a game that ends at as few as 75 turns or lasts as long as 600 turns. This is where I first noticed the game pacing to be slightly off. Every time I have played HUMANKIND the game has ended when the turns are used, but I’ve yet to make it to the last era in the game.
Conditions to Win
The conditions needed to win a game in HUMANKIND are different to other 4x strategy games (I’m refraining from naming the particular game we are all thinking of). In HUMANKIND it is the culture with the most Fame at the end of 300 turns that wins. Fame is acquired in a few ways. Era stars, discovering wonders and completing competitive deeds. HUMANKIND is split into six different era’s, ancient, classic, medieval, early modern, industrial and contemporary.
In HUMANKIND you start out on a hex-based map with a tiny nomadic, Neolithic tribe. During this phase of the game, your tribe roams around gathering food and other resources. They’ll hunt deer for food and run away from Mammoths if they are smart. As they roam around collecting resources and discovering natural wonders, you eventually find a lovely place to settle your first Outpost and territory, not a City as that comes later in HUMANKIND.
Once your little tribe has grown in size and you have collected an Era star you get to advance from the Neolithic age to the Ancient age, or you can choose to carry on in the Neolithic era for a short while to collect a few more Era stars. To earn stars, you have to achieve certain conditions, such as having a certain population, earning a certain amount of money and influence, having a large military, or researching enough new technologies.
Pick Your Culture
When you advance to the next era you chose your historical Culture, such as the Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, French, Germans, and so on. The Culture you pick gives your nation its real-world foundation. You can choose a new Culture every time you collect enough Era stars to enter a new era, in all, there are 60 playable cultures spread across 6 eras.
Affinities and Legacy Trait
Each culture is associated with one of seven affinities, Aesthete, Agrarian, Builder, Expansionist, Merchant, Militarist, and Scientist. So, for example, Romans are expansionists and like more territory, whereas the Italians being an Aesthete culture favour gameplay focused on Influence and diplomacy.
The culture you pick comes with its own Affinity, in other words, an active bonus. The Affinity grants your culture a Unit and a District. You also get a Legacy Trait which is a passive bonus that sets your culture apart from other cultures and is reflected in the culture play style. As you move up to the next Era you pick another culture and as you transition to the new culture, the old Affinity and its effects are lost.
However, you don’t lose the Legacy Traits of the previous culture, once obtained, they will affect your Empire for the rest of the game. They are able to stack with each other to provide various combinations of different bonuses as you move through the eras. This is a fun addition as you can change your tactics throughout the game depending on the culture you pick. It mixes things up and you can gain some great bonuses when they stack for your empire to grow huge. I think this is another area where the game needs a little fine-tuning, as sometimes the bonus can be overpowered.
Science, Civics and Religion
Running your empire isn’t all about resources and money, you’ll also need to deal with science, civics, influence and diplomacy. The science tech tree works pretty much like Civilization (I know I wasn’t mentioning Civilization but it is hard not to in some aspects) moving along the tech tree you unlock new structures and units over time.
Once you choose your first culture you gain the ability to turn your outposts into far more formidable cities. Outposts can be attached to one of your neighbouring cities. This results in the regions being combined into a larger province. This in turn means that a single city production queue has a far larger pool of resources to draw from. This process uses influence points, the fifth type of basic resource in HUMANKIND, (the other four are Food, Industry, Money, and Science), which also passes new Civics that provide your territory with empire-wide benefits.
When Civics pop up you get the occasional narrative events that ask you to make a choice. Some decisions can be easy to make and will have good outcomes for your people or bad outcomes for a number of turns. You may have to deal with a plague or decide if you should welcome or banish unexpected travellers.
Religion in HUMANKIND is there, only just. You do get to pick a religion, through Tenets. Tenets offer unique bonuses to empires that established Religion as the state religion. But that’s about it and it very shallow compared to the rest of the game mechanics, and needs a more incorporated system in place for it.
Diplomacy and Combat
HUMANKIND’S diplomacy system is well-executed, take note, similar 4x strategy games, this is how a diplomacy system should be. The AI players seem to be programmed to recognize that even if they could win, going to war is not always in their best interest. You can set up trade routes, propose treaties, alliances can be offered, and demands can be made.
Combat is another area where HUMANKIND comes into its own. Units can be stacked and if stacks of units are close together when a target is engaged, all the units in the area fight. Some will come on as reinforcements when needed. When combat opens you enter a deployment phase in the area you are in. This is where you can place your frontline troops in front. Archers in the middle and cavalry to the sides if you so choose. Terrain plays a big role here so take the high ground and don’t forget fortification. Plan wisely since a poor plan can take out your units and eventually your empire.
Music and Visuals
The audio and music in HUMANKIND are excellent with beautiful, magnificent music, with great atmospheric sounds and unit effects. The music is so good that it could definitely give Civilization’s brilliant score a run for its money, I say that after having listened to Civilization’s music for many hours.
The narrative is brilliant, or maybe that should be the narrator, as who every he is some of his remarks are funny with a hint of sarcasm. His remarks have made me laugh on a few occasions, it adds to the gameplay and gives it a lift.
The performance of HUMANKIND on my laptop was fine, mostly, it did have the odd frame rate shudder every and then. Once the game crashed back to the desktop but once in the many hours of playtime I have had with the game isn’t too bad.
HUMANKIND looks stunning on the whole, animals moving across the map are well animated as are your units. I do have one gripe with the map view. When you zoom out on the map it changes very quickly to a map of your territory. Instead of showing off the world to its best advantage, you get to look at the territory map which is basically grey with different cultures colours showing. I’d much rather see my territory in all of its full glory on the map instead of the territory colours. Maybe having two maps to switch between could be the way to go.
I’ve played well over 25 hours of HUMANKIND for this review and I really like the game. While the game isn’t perfect it is certainly an interesting addition to the 4x strategy genre. So to answer my question I asked at the start of this review “is it a Civ clone or does it do enough different to stand on its own?”, I would say, it isn’t an exact clone of Civilization, it has different aspects of play that makes it stand out on its own.
It still needs work done on the game’s pacing in various areas. The systems in place are not too complex. Though this does mean that a player that is well versed in the 4x strategy genre will immediately feel at home with what’s on offer here. It would also be pretty easy for newcomers to the genre to pick up the game and become a great empire. HUMANKIND is a welcome addition and the developers plan on supporting it in the future, I can’t wait to see what they come up with!
Final Verdict: I Like It A Lot