If you weren’t into mobile gaming back in the first decade of the 2000’s, you might not have heard of the Revival games. Inspired by the Civilization series, they aimed to bring the 4X genre to the Symbian powered phones of that era before a period of dormancy. Now, the Revival name is back with HeroCraft targeting a public test later this year for Revival: Recolonization.
I was fortunate enough to pose some questions to Lead Game Designer, and creator of the original Revival games, Vladislav Mishukov about Recolonization. With HeroCraft spread across two bases in Kaliningrad and Krasnodar the team are well experienced to virtual meetings, with Vladislav telling me that while working from home is taking some getting used to, it isn’t impacting on their progress with Recolonization.
Since releasing Revival 2 back in 2009, Vladislav and his team have been focusing on other mobile games and developing casual PC games based on Russian popular culture. Despite developing them to a high standard, targeting these games to the domestic market was understandably limiting their global appeal. Even though the team was focusing on new ventures, Revival 2 was still bringing in over a $100 in the last quarter of 2018. Vladislav expanded on the enduring success of the game:
Revival 2’s success lies in the fact that we managed to provide a full-sized Civilization-like experience on push button phones that still hasn’t been rivalled. If, for some reason, you find yourself stuck with such a phone and want to play a 4x strategy game, there are no other games in existence besides Revival 1 and 2
The 4X genre is one that is constantly bubbling away, indeed it is only recently that a new season of content for Civilization VI was announced, while Age of Wonders: Planetfall was one of the hidden gems from 2019. Launching into that environment isn’t going to be easy, but Vladislav feels that Revival: Recolonization has a couple of features to help set it apart, all aided by setting the game a thousand years after a global cataclysm devastated the planet.
The All-Mind, our version of Skynet in the world of Revival, is what we hope will be the game’s distinguishing feature. As players start changing the planet’s landscape to suit their needs, the All-Mind will notice their presence and react accordingly by issuing edicts.
You can think of edicts as spells that influence different gameplay aspects – from allowing a nasty virus to spread across the land to freezing over entire regions or causing drought.
With Vladislav talking about players being able to change the landscape, my mind immediately went back to an old favourite of mine, Alpha Centauri which is of course another influence on Vladislav to go along with Civilization. The All-Mind is an AI that, in typical sci-fi fashion, realised that it was primed to replace humanity and caused a wave of destruction. The tribes that make up the world of Recolonization are emerging into a new Dark Age with their history long forgotten.
Each tribe has a unique range of characteristics and quirks and have adapted to survive, and under your leadership maybe even thrive, in a specific climate. Vladislav described to me how Arctic tribes would be originally only found in snow-covered regions and would receive the expected perks to combat and movement in their home environment. But moving an Arctic tribe that forms part of your empire into a warmer climate could risk unrest among the populace, posing the question of whether expending vital resource to change the climate is an essential task.
The details of how diplomacy will work between tribes aren’t nailed down, but HeroCraft are using Reputation as the key resource in the diplomatic sphere with your physical manifestation in the game (the emissaries) starting each game with a set amount. The choices you make as you progress will determine how your reputation changes, for good or bad. Your emissary has a multi-faceted role, being the only unit that can establish settlements is a key point. They will also be able to interface with old-world technologies, terraform the landscape and have a non-direct impact on combat. Pretty important people all told.
I asked Vladislav about combat in Recolonization, was it going to be like Civilization or Planetfall? He revealed that the combat system is influenced by his own tastes.
If I were to summarize, I’d say it’s a mixture of combat seen in Endless Legend and AoW: Planetfall.
When battle occurs, a combat layer is placed over the world map (without loading into separate screen). The type of terrain and obstacles present at the battle’s location on the map are taken into account. The combat layer is then populated with randomly generated cover and destructible objects.
I’m intrigued by Recolonization, the art style might seem somewhat dated, but the ideas sound pretty intriguing, especially the talk of zombies that can appear. Perhaps the clincher though is the throw back to Alpha Centauri with the terraforming abilities of your emissary. If you want to know more, there will be a full interview with Vladislav in the coming days, while of course you can check out the official website where you can register interest in a closed alpha planned for later this year.