Last Days of Old Earth is a new release from Auroch Digital in the form of a turn-based card-centric strategy game. First and foremost, Last Days of Old Earth adopts a fairly unique art style, it has a polygonal style that is rarely seen in modern games, and while it does offer a minimalist style that suits the card-based gameplay, it can make some of the landscapes seem a bit barren (then again, it could be argued that this is a purposeful design choice given the game's backstory). The title is set in the distant future, on Earth, when the sun has started dying, and the last remnants of humanity struggle towards the equator where it's still warm enough to sustain life.
The game will start out with a dice roll between opponents to see who goes first, you can invest resources to increase your chances, as going first definitely grants you added advantages when tackling the enemy. When moving you're granted Action Points, if you go first then you'll receive 12, and going second means you'll only get 8. Action Points are used to move units, assign troops and dispatch armies, and any remaining AP at the end of a turn will be invested into resources. Movement is important in Last Days of Old Earth, as it dictates which enemies you'll see and how far you'll be able to see. For instance if you move your unit onto a hill, they'll be able to see further across the map than from a lower position.
The primary objective of the game is to overthrow your opponent's HQ and claim it as your own. You start off with your own HQ and a single recon unit to get you going. From here you'll need to locate the enemy and build up suitable forces to take them down. The mechanics in the game are interesting in that it uses card decks that can be built from the main menu. Using the decks you can construct other units, or Armies, from the HQ. The Armies are units that consist of individual units that will each have their uses when it comes to combat. You are tasked with controlling one of two factions; the human Skywatchers or the robotic Automata, however the units are fairly similar for each, although they do come with different styles.
The combat segments are an interesting part of Last Days of Old Earth, as the movement and combat are segregated into two separate parts. When you encounter another enemy you'll be taken to a combat grid - these are square instead of hexagonal - where you place the units within your army and take down the enemy's fighting force. You can place attack units up front to deal with opposing attack units, while infantry units fall behind and provide support with damage boosters. While it may be an unconventional choice to separate combat like this, it does create an element of strategy, rather than it being left down to luck and stats, which is often what 4X games do. However, if you prefer that play-style you can "Auto-Resolve" combat situation and the game will create and outcome based on unit stats.
Each faction also has a selection of heroes to assign to armies, which can increase their strength and numbers, so it requires planning when building your deck to create the best tactical force. Blending these two genres together is a smart idea in that it creates a new dynamic where you have to carefully plan your movements, your combat placements, which troops you'll assign to which armies and which units you'll place within your deck in the first place. There's a lot of planning required but that makes it more a game of skill rather than it being based on luck.
However Last Days of Old Earth is not without its problems; the tutorial is pretty rushed (often a issue that affects games in Early Access), you get the basics and some combat tips but never anything in detail, which leaves you to figure out some of the mechanics and UI options yourself. There's also a few bugs, and the game did crash on us once or twice, yet these are the things you come to expect from an game that's in development, and it's something that should be ironed out for full release.
Upon full release, Last Days of Old Earth promises a fully-fledged deck building mode, the introduction of stealth within the game so you can disrupt enemy plans from within their HQ, air units, and a full single-player campaign revealing more about the Skywatchers and their conflict with the Automata. The game has plenty of potential, yet so far there's only a small amount to show off. Still, it's exciting to see where Last Days of Old Earth will go as it moves towards launch, and what else might be done as fuse together these two distinct and popular genres.
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