Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Air
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Real-time strategy is a tough, dense genre for any studio to handle. So the fact that 137 BC- Real Time Siege Strategy comes from a two-person studio is pretty impressive. On its own merits, it’s not bad, but the size of its creative team is probably the most interesting thing about it.
Players control a legion of ancient Roman soldiers in a series of battles against the Gauls. Short snippets of text between the ten levels provide just enough context to separate the largely indistinguishable campaign missions. As its subtitle suggests, 137 BC's strategy mostly revolves around either taking over a fortified base or defending said base from invaders after it’s been captured. Alongside typical units like archers and spearmen, players have access to a variety of siege weapons like battering rams or ladders that cannot be destroyed once they’ve opened the path to the enemy. Conversely, long-range projectile weapons like catapults and crossbows are crucial tools in the defender’s arsenal.
When this back and forth between defense and offense clicks, 137 BC becomes a solid strategy experience. Units with high kill counts become stronger, encouraging players to use them wisely. Stay aggressive when possible, but know when to retreat and restore health at base. Only so many units can be deployed at once and there are no ways to generate more if they all perish. If the lengthy, challenging campaign is too demanding at first, players can create their own scenarios with the nifty sandbox mode instead.
Unfortunately, numerous small issues bring down 137 BC as a whole. The visuals are bland, flat, and monotonous. Something is wrong when watching the different colored squares representing soldiers bounce around is more interesting then zooming in to watch the tiny skirmishes in more detail. The sea of blackness surrounding the map if the player scrolls too far makes the game look unfinished. Meanwhile, although dragging units into battle and setting waypoints usually works, other menu elements are far less reliable. In theory, players can command units to momentarily sprint or access godly powers depending on the status of the match, but consistently using these abilities in practice is a different story.
None of these problems are insurmountable though, especially in the face of the genuinely promising siege dynamic. They just leave 137 BC a decent, but unremarkable RTS.