In Indie Game HQ’s latest review, Seb took a look at Bat Country Games’ first retail title Aeon Command. The game pits you as one of the three struggling factions as they seek to gain control of the Aeon Nebula. It is currently available for $7.99 through Desura, GamersGate, and Greenman Gaming for PC, Mac, and Linux. Also, Aeon Command was released for iOS on the 21st and is available either through iTunes or the App Store. All the needed links are listed at the bottom of this review.
GAME NAME: Aeon Command
DEVELOPER(S): Bat Country Games
PUBLISHER(S): Bat Country Games
PLATFORM(S): PC, Mac, Linux, iOS
GENRE(S): Action, Strategy
RELEASE DATE(S): November 21, 2012
We would like to thank Bat Country Games for the opportunity to review Aeon Command.
The three factions of the Aeon Nebula have broken out into war. The Alliance, Exiles and Cyborgs are each struggling to obtain dominance over the mineral rich nebula. Aeon Command is a tug of war strategy space warfare game. Play as one of 3 unique factions to help gain dominance over the Aeon Nebula!
Aeon Command begins with an option to play through a short tutorial. This shows you the basic controls and allows you to get a feel for the game. Controls are simple enough, utilizing the number keys to produce units and “A” & “D” moving the camera left and right, while “Q”, “W”, and “E” activate abilities. Every action also has an icon that can be clicked on directly to initiate, if you prefer. As with many strategy games, the skill of the player is not determined by how fast the controls can be activated, but by developing situational awareness and reacting correctly. After the tutorial the first and only campaign available is the one for the Alliance faction. The campaigns of all three factions act as a tutorial in their own right. As you progress and unlock missions, more units and abilities become available. This gives a the game a very comfortable learning curve and teaches the exact use of each unit and ability.
Aeon Command is a real time strategy game with its setting in space. Two mother-ships sit on opposite ends of a long thin map and it is up to the player to deploy smaller ships, research upgrades, and use abilities to win. Resources are gained by building harvesters or by clicking on bonus resource icons that periodically drop after an enemy ship is killed. Deployed ships are not controlled by the player and either fly directly to the enemy mother-ship, engaging any hostiles along the way or harvest resources. Abilities require energy to activate and energy slowly accrues naturally and also can be gained by bonus energy drops. Each of the three factions has distinctly different ships and abilities in both function and appearance.
The tutorial and early missions felt like button mashing to build a random cadre of units that inexplicably won or lost. As the game progressed though, I began to develop a sense of what worked and what didn’t. This aspect of the game is exceptionally well nurtured by the step-by-step introduction of each unit or ability in the three campaigns. Each level was set up such that to win, you had to figure out how to effectively use your new tool in combination with your others. This constant introduction of new things and the resulting challenge to adapt kept each mission fresh and engaging.
Producing units and using abilities are not the only thing that the player has control over. Another mechanic in the game is unit upgrades. Resources used to build units can also be used to upgrade attack or armor stats of each type of unit. In addition, once unlocked by the campaign missions, more powerful types of ships can be unlocked for production. These upgrades only last the duration of the mission, but there are permanent upgrades available. Completing campaign missions rewards you with gears, and like resources and energy, are sometimes dropped by killed hostiles. These gears can be then spent on permanent upgrades in the main menu that are either general (such as harvesting speed) or can be faction specific. This adds to the constant upgrade and forward progression of the game.
All three factions play very differently and have access to unique abilities and ships. Each ship has a specific role and often is not always solely based on damage output. Some ships heal, some ships stun and some ships even create holographic doubles that distract the enemy. I like this feature because it breaks up the dreary “rocks-paper-scissors” routine seen in many strategy games. The abilities are also quite varied and are often AOE based.
The graphics in Aeon Command were nothing spectacular. The backdrop is a pretty standard view of space with some distant stars clusters and so on. All views of the ships are aerial with decent detail given to each ship. Weapons fire brightly colored projectiles and little flames propel each ship around the battlefield. My one issue with the graphics is that some of the ships can look too similar, specifically the cyborgs. Due to the colored outline given to each ship, it is rare to mistake whose ships are whose. However, so much of the game is building the right ships at the right time to counter the type of ships your enemy has. Not being able to easily identify ships hinders this.
The music in the game fit the setting well. From the subdued electronic music in the main menu, to the low yet steadily rising battle theme, it all gave the sense of immense empty space. The music was neither catchy nor repetitive. Battle sounds hearken back to old school gaming, but with a modern polish. Overall, the audio fits the game quite well.
Down To The Nitty Gritty:
Aeon Command satisfies the things I want in a good strategy game: variability in play, upgrades and a tactical challenge that requires managing many aspects. Three diverse factions furnish different tactical options and constant upgrades keep things interesting. Another thing to note is the accessibility of this strategy game to those who are new to the genre. The slow but steady learning curve ensures that you master each aspect of the game. At first glance this may seem like a simple game, but by the end of the third campaign you will be floored by the rewarding complexity.