Game: Imagine Earth
Genre: Indie, Simulation, Strategy
Developers | Publishers: Serious Bros | Future Friends
Price: US $24.99 | UK £22.99 | EU € 24,99
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Gamepad Support: Yes
Review code used, with many thanks to Future Friends
Originally released on early access back in 2014, now the full version of Imagine Earth has been released on Steam. Brought to us by developers Serious Bros, a two-man team who have worked on it for seven years. Imagine Earth is a sci-fi strategy sim that focuses on the conflict between economic growth and environmental destruction.
Sci-fi Strategy Sim
The game is set in the future in 2048 after multi-national corporations, running rampant in the free market, have exploited Earth to its fullest extent. Playing the role of a colony manager, you are tasked with the mission of establishing a thriving settlement on a variety of new worlds and expertly balancing the needs of the corporation with the needs of your citizens and the planets.
You’ll have to harvest resources and produce goods to establish space trade. You’ll also form alliances or wage economic warfare to take over competing corporations. Complete research to protect your colonists from disasters and avoid a climate crisis! So, not a lot to do really, and no pressure, I kid you, of course, there is a lot to do and plenty of juggling to keep everyone and the planet happy and healthy.
Like most strategy games Imagine Earth starts off with a tutorial on the planet Tuto. The game does a semi-decent job of introducing you to the gameplay. But as usual, I still had some questions and areas I felt I didn’t know enough about. As you play the game you do pick it up in the end and get the hang of all the ins and outs of running a colony. There is plenty of in-game help to keep you on the right track.
The first thing you will be asked to do is choose a landing spot for the first colonial capsule, which is the equivalent of a Town Centre in Imagine Earth. After that, you will have to increase the population by making your citizens lives as pleasant as possible on an alien planet, within the limited area in which you can build.
Of course, they will need food, which you can give to them by building farms, cultivation fields, boats for collecting shellfish, greenhouses to increase their productivity. But as they don’t live on food alone, the colony’s inhabitants will soon need energy to run all the machinery and equipment.
Bringing in buildings to supply energy for your colony brings with it its own problems. Supplying energy will have a determinantal effect on the planet. So this is what makes Imagine Earth different from the average strategy game and adds more depth to the gameplay.
There’s a big need to balance population happiness, energy consumption and environmental impact. While maintaining your colonies with repairs and cleaning, there will be occasional disasters and events if you let structure conditions drop too low or pollution go too high. Disasters routinely strike as a planet warms, such as wildfires, volcanoes and rising sea levels, mainly due to the pollution your colony produces.
Most other strategy games use hexagon-shaped tiles to build your structures, in Imagine Earth it’s triangle-shaped tiles. Leaving you only three sides to expand your buildings from, adding more strategic thinking to the placement of them.
Planets can have a good number of different territories on their surface, from the sea to the mountains, from deserts to rainforests. There are eight distinct biomes planets. They range from frozen planets to places more similar to Earth, from volcanic worlds to others almost totally covered by forests.
Trading and More
Imagine Earth basically centres around these four key resources, food, goods, money and power. And you’re not the only person colonising a planet. Other companies will form their own cities and will compete with you economically. You’ll be trading with frequent visitors to your colony and completing tasks for the Corporation. You’ll make additional money by selling shares in your colony and taking over opposing companies by buying up their shares.
There are plenty of modes to try out in Imagine Earth. There’s a story-based campaign with 9 planets or missions. An Endless game mode, where you can grow your colony how you like, Competition mode to compete with other companies for the license settlement. My favourite one of all has to be the Planet Editor where you can terraform, build and customise individual planets which can be saved and shared with others.
Visuals and Controls
I really like the look of Imagine Earth, the graphics are crisp and clear. Your view of your planet is from a top-down perspective, zooming out gives you a globe-like view of your entire planet. You can also spin it around to quickly move from continent to continent, although that can be a little stomach-churning from time to time.
Voice acting of the characters that pop up during gameplay is good. I did find that sometimes the voice wasn’t in time with the character animation, but it is a small niggle. Visitor and info pop-ups are frequent and can get repetitive and interrupt the flow of the game at times. Sound effects and music are great, especially the music in the game.
Imagine Earth has full controller support and it works really well. You can choose to play with the mouse if you wish and don’t mind the game turning into a clickfest.
Imagine Earth provides a thoughtful, charming, strategy simulation tackling a lot of real-world issues. There’s a substantial campaign and plenty of content to keep you busy. I particularly enjoyed all the strategic trade-offs involved in selecting different technologies and the effect of my decisions in the layout of my colony and productivity buildings have on the climate of the planet.
Developers, Serious Bros, are continually updating and issuing hotfixes for Imagine Earth, by listening to gamers suggestions. Imagine Earth is an absorbing simulation, strategy sci-fi. I can’t wait to see what other delights they have in store for the game in future!
Final Verdict: I Like It A Lot