It's a dark future with revolution brewing amongst the lower tiers of citizens in New Savannah, and the elite gathering for the ascension of Willa Thorne to the ultimate citizen, Level 10. When her estranged mother breaks in to warn her, and is then gunned down, a series of events is set into motion that will take Willa far from the hallowed halls of the city and into the depths of the world she inhabits. With a robot aiding her, a plan to make a heist, and revolution on the horizon, there is a lot going on.
Augmented Empire delivers an awesome experience that will have you begging for one more mission as you try to unravel what is going on. It's available on Oculus now, and we've got all the details for you here!
Revolution is brewing
The city of New Savannah is not exactly what you would call a beacon of equality. The city separates its citizens based on a level system, and while levels 7, 8, and 9, citizens get to live in the lap of luxury, the same cannot be said for level 0 citizens. It's clear that things have been going downhill in New Savannah for a while, with mentions of revolutionary uprisings, and graffiti lining nearby buildings.
Things get started when Willa, who is about to ascend to the highest level of citizenry, Level 10, is confronted by her mother. Ultimately, Willa ends up getting herself into some trouble with the law and is aided by a robot, and your character; Craven. She's pulled into the revolution, though she doesn't know it at first, and is fulfilling the plan that her mother started.
While you play as Craven, you'll be playing in a first person view, with no voice. It's a neat trick to put you cleanly into the middle of things. While you will control all of the characters in your party, Craven's interaction comes namely in the form of conversation options that pop up with Willa. These decisions set the tone for future discussions, and will also affect how Willa reacts to certain situations.
A gritty pop up in the not-so-far future
Augmented Empire takes place in the city of New Savannah, a city segregated by the caste of its denizens. While you are looking at the future, each level has a bit of a different look that often doesn't look futuristic so much as it looks run down or in disrepair. It has a specific look to it that draws you right into what is going on. Each level has a pop-up look because it appears in front of you on a holodeck. You'll see different sections of the city, from the museum to the Slag pile, displayed in front of, and below you.
It's often painted in saturated blues and purples that definitely add some atmosphere to the setting of this game. While you don't get close ups of the characters you are playing through each mission, you do get a popup avatar of their face for many conversations. Each character has a different design which plays directly into their specialist class. The one exception to this is Willa the main character, who got dragged into things a bit unwittingly.
While the look of this game is a bit unusual due to the angle that you're looking down at, the little bits of flavor really bring it to life. The tilt of the play area makes it feel like you are looking down at a table as you try to figure out what your next move is.
Strategy is key
Augmented Empire is an even mix between a strategy game, and an RPG and that blend works really well. Each level has multiple sections of map that you'll have to traverse and they include multiple areas where you'll run into combat. Combat is a main aspect of the gameplay, and it's a turn based style that may remind some gamers of console favorites like X-COM.
The controls are based on point and click — or tap —and quick time events.
You'll need to use the special abilities of each person in your party to take critical shots, take cover behind environmental items to help protect yourself, and find the best angle for attacks. Thanks to the turn by turn style, you'll find yourself figuring out the best plan of action before actually commanding your party to do anything at all.
The controls are based between point and click, and quick time events. In order to land a shot, evade enemy fire, and even get out of the way of critical hits, you'll need to respond in time. You do this by either tapping the touchpad on the side of your Gear VR, or by clicking your controller - and both methods are extremely intuitive. This means that even if you aren't used to gaming much, or you're new to VR the controls are simple to pick up and use.
When you are wandering through a mission, and aren't engaged in combat you'll also want to keep your eyes open. At times enemies will drop items, and you can find scrap, and even augments stashed throughout different areas of each level. By carefully inspecting crates, shelves, and even piles of detritus you can easily rack up money to be spent in store, or find handy items for upgrading your character's skills and abilities.
Augmentations are how you purchase new skills and abilities for your characters after they level up. These include the ability to shoot when an enemy moves into their line of sight or being able to use grenades while in the heat of battle. While your characters will level up automatically just by completing missions, you'll need to have open augments in your inventory, and the character in question will need an open slot in their skill tree.
Augments can be bought in between missions at the store, however, if you're enterprising you can find them laying around during missions. In particular the mission where you recruit a programmer to your team will net you 6 augments, so long as you explore the boxes of loot scattered throughout the level. Each character has access to a specific set of skills that are linked to their class.
This means that even though you 'll quickly be controlling three or four different characters, they will probably have vastly different skills. Down the line you'll also be able to upgrade the skills that you've already installed, letting them become far more effective with a reduced cooldown period between uses.
Wrapping it up
Augmented Empire delivers a fantastic experience for anyone who enjoys strategy games or RPGs. It has a beautiful look, great mechanics for both touchpad and controller use, and a story that pulls you in and makes you want to keep going. Best of all, this gem is available for just $9.99 making it supremely affordable, even when you don't have much of a budget to blow.
- Easy controls for touchpad and Gear VR controller.
- Lovely graphics, and talented voice actors.
- Fun, easy to learn mechanics and gameplay.
- For those unused to strategy games combat can be difficult.
- Some missions look weird due to the angle of gameplay.