Despot’s Game: Dystopian Army Builder (PC) Preview

By Athanasios 02.02.2022

Review for Despot’s Game: Dystopian Army Builder on PC

Despot's Game is a strategy rogue-like were you take a control of a bunch of those worthless meatbags known as humans, and send them off to fight from arena to arena, in automatic battles against robots and monsters (as well as robot monsters) - and guess what? The whole thing is tough as nails! Who would've thought! Here's a look at the almost-completely-done, Early Access version of Konfa Games creation.

You are in control of a tiny party of puny humans. That's not a joke. The main units are called exactly that: puny humans. Their goal? Survival. Not on a lush jungle, or African savannah, however, but on a series of rooms out of steel, and its metallic (and then some) denizens. A tiny group of apes, against robots with sharp weapons? Oh, this ought to be good. Yes, as expected, the whole thing won't be a walk in the park. Apart from the fact that the road ahead is dangerous, this is a rogue-like, so it's also unknown. There's no way to "predict" what the team will fight next, so it's important to prepare for anything, and build a very strong party. Most importantly, you need to handle the small amount of resources available.

There are two things to keep track of here: tokens, and food. Tokens are basically the coin you'll need to buy things with, with said things ranging from naked and defenseless humans and the weapons they can carry, to passive boosts known as Mutations, as well as food. Now, food is the "fuel" of the team, which depletes when one moves from room to room (basically from top-down arena to top-down arena). You increase your rations by spending tokens in specific rooms… or by sacrificing a couple of unfortunate humans. Despot's Game generally has a very dark sense of humor, but it's of the entertaining kind, as it will be shown in the many RPG-like, multiple-choice dialogue sequences.

Screenshot for Despot’s Game: Dystopian Army Builder on PC

There are a couple of additional mechanics that add a bit more depth to it all, with one example being the boons the party receives the more diverse it is, forcing you to avoid creating a team of, say, only "tank" characters. By the way, once the button 'FIGHT' is pressed, these fellows are on their own. The battle is fully automatic, so the bulk of the gameplay revolves around dealing with the aforementioned resources. It's a balancing act, basically. You've spend all your tokens on mutations? Then you don't have enough to buy humans and weapons. You have a big party of fully equipped, trigger-happy people? Well, just sit back and watch food rations diminish just from moving from one room to the other - and so on and forth.

This resource management aspect of it all is sadly the perfect moment to talk about the main issue at hand. Despot's Game is fun, addictive even, but it's unbalanced to the point of aggravation. Food is especially annoying. As mentioned earlier, it's nothing more than fuel. Having more of it doesn't really help the party perform better, so it is purchased just so that the humans can still move from A to B. It has a certain strategic significance, sure, but it's more of an annoyance. Trouble is it's not just food. Everything is unbalanced here.

From the individual "classes" to the enemies, this needs plenty of polish for it to feel fair. The RNG that handles what's up next in terms of enemies is especially bad, as you can "accidentally" meet with a group of enemies that can destroy you in mere seconds, no matter how well prepared you are. The good news (sort of), is that, while this is supposed to be a complete product, the developer has kept it firmly in the Early Access state. Hopefully, the feedback it will receive from the community will help smoothing out its rough edges. It would be a shame if such awesome pixel art and neat synthwave tracks would go to waste.

Screenshot for Despot’s Game: Dystopian Army Builder on PC

Final Thoughts

The Holy Grail of all titles that have strategic thinking at the forefront, is none other than balance, balance, and then even more balance. This is something so important that, while generally very entertaining, Despot's Game: Dystopian Army Builder ends up being an irritating experience, full of dead ends that frequently feel unfair. Currently in need for some heavy rebalancing, there's still hope for this little indie.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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