Hey Lovers, Kabluwe here with a new game review for Pixel Reboot.
Whenever a long-awaited title like Cyberpunk 2077 premiers, you can bet a lot of worthy games will be lost in the hype (or in this case, the infamy). One such game, in my humble opinion, is the Prohibition-Era gangland management sim Empire of Sin, which debuted last month scarcely one week before Cyberpunk blew up the scene.
While Projekt Red’s latest title is on whole other level than this modest offering by Paradox Interactive (the developers of Cities: Skylines and other well-regarded titles), it will appeal to those who prefer a turn-based, player-defined pace over Cyberpunk’s FPS format. Both games offer gritty story lines, open world scale and long-term playability, though Empire of Sin is notably less ambitious in its scope and detail.
When examining a new management sim I always recognize aspects inspired by older games, and with Empire of Sin I am immediately reminded of both Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Heroes of Might and Magic. GTA in that you must take over territories in different neighborhoods across the map (in this case 1920s Chicago rather than 1990s Los Angeles), And HOMM for the Mini-bosses and turn-based combat system that provides a level of personalization` to the player experience.
Immediately upon launching Empire of Sin you are aware of the game’s dark atmousphere, opening on the rain-soaked streets of a nondescript 1920s Chicago alleyway. You are invited to choose one of 14 gang bosses drawn straight from the Golden Age of Film Noir. Certain bosses such as Al Capone and Daniel M. Jackson are based on true figures from history, while others depict fictitious, and particularly stereotypical, characters. Each boss provides several bonuses for your various rackets, as well as a special power they can wield in combat.
Each boss also has their own background and story arc. While you can win the game with any boss, I immediately glommed onto Goldie Garneau, a Quebecois chanteuse with a deadly triple sniper shot. I recommend partaking in the well-designed tutorial, which provides bonus cash and weapons in addition to showing you the ins and outs of gameplay. Either way, you begin with a safe house, brewery and speakeasy in a random neighborhood competing to rule Chicago’s seamy underworld.
And seamy it is. True to it’s title, Empire of Sin is rife with unabashed violence, macabre plot lines, pointless profanity and implied randiness. Throughout your various interactions with rival bosses and underlings you are free to pursue a course of either empathetic mercy or deadly retribution. Your ultimate goal is to take over Chicago’s dark underbelly, and there will undoubtedly be lives lost in the balance.
Your Empire consists of speakeasies, breweries, brothels, casinos and flophouses, fought for block by bloody block across ten neighborhoods of the Windy City. Along the way you’ll build an outfit of highly-trained gangsters, each with their own talents and vices that will evolve through experience. You’ll forge alliances and partnerships with other bosses who might just as well stab you in the back when you least expect it. It’s called “Empire of Sin”, so what did you expect?
Your path to the top lies through completing missions and side-quests, classing up your joints’ security level, police deflection, ambiance and word-of-mouth advertising (as well as the variety of games offered at your casinos), or through brute force by taking over thug-owned derelict buildings and other gangsters’ operations. You can take over a rival gangster’s entire organization by attacking their safe house and battling through their formidable guards to a final shootout. The better-equipped gang will most assuredly prevail.
Your own gang comes with its individual benefits and complications, as you hire increasingly powerful henchmen with higher stakes, individual traits, and personal agendas you must placate or tamp down. The outcome of a battle may hinge on how happy one of your gunmen is at the time, or how worried they are about another character. There are enough complications here to keep you immersed for quite a while.
But therein lies one of the problems with this game because the first part of your play-though will be a slog of base-level thugs, a prospect that can quickly grow tedious as you slowly expand your empire. And woe be to you if a rival boss declares war, as you will immediately and unceasingly be assailed by enemy gangs in rapid succession, involving prolonged shootouts between your inept guards and their equally clumsy attackers. After a dozen rounds of suspendered gangsters blasting shotguns past each other’s heads just steps apart, you’ll be begging for .
As the comments on Steam will let you know, there are also a fair deal of bugs and glitches reported for Empire of Sin. I’ve observed that Goldie, for instance, sometimes freezes up and sort of ice-skates across the battlefield, or delivers a death stare rather than the expected animation of a sniper rifle kill. This doesn’t draw too much from the overall pleasure of the game, though on a few occasions a melee attack has resulted in a character relocating across the board in a completely irrational movement. I expect these problems will be ironed out in a near-future patch.
In the meantime, sweetheart, uncross those beautiful stems of yours and prepare for a pretty creative and entertaining take on the management sim genre. With an update or two Empire of Sin just might become, eh, shtuff that dreams are made of. Here’s looking at you, kid. Be sure to check out our other reviews and videos on YouTube and Twitch, and check out our discord channel for stream alerts and lively chatter. This has been Kabluwe for Pixel Reboot.