Look. Let's just get one thing straight - there's no way I'm going to do much more than scratch the surface of Genesia in this review because it's a BIG game that's going to take a LONG time to play.
It would be very easy for me to base this review on comparisons with other games, but that's not particularly fair to Genesia as it's very much an entity on its own. Just to give you some sort of picture, though, take the characteristic quirks of The Settlers, the look of Populous, and some of the strategy from The Patrician and Civilisation, and you have a fairly good idea of what to expect.
The underlying objective in Genesia is to recover seven precious jewels that have been scattered about the land, but you'll not even start on this 'mission' until you've spent a good number of hours building a populous capable of surviving on their own, let alone attacking others or branching out. The game runs as a series of 'turns' which are represented as the seasons of the year, with each one having certain obvious attributes - i.e. Autumn is a good time for farmers, etc.
One of the major paths to success involves the use of an initially small number of 'settlers' that have no individual professions. It's down to you to decide how their talents are best used and you can allocate them specific occupations. To start with, you'll need to have a woodcutter to produce wood, then a carpenter to turn the wood into usable planks. These people will need something to eat so you'll need to build some fields and get a farmer onto the land. At this stage the game plays in a similar way to The Settlers, but you have a very limited number of people to work with - in fact, only four - which can lead to a bit of a 'trying to keep all the plates spinning' sort of affair. Because of this, one of your early objectives must be to attract nomads to join your people. There are a number of minimum requirements that must be met before anyone will be tempted to join you, including the need for empty houses, enough food and water, and an average morale of over five from your people.
Oh God, I've run out of space already and I've haven't even mentioned building the different types of workshops, drills, houses, warehouses, barracks, or any of the other occupations really. Hopefully the captions will give you a bit of a further insight, so off you go and get stuck in.
There's only one word to describe Genesia, and that's HUGE. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this game will take literally ages to play to its completion. There are so many aspects, you really do feel overawed at just how much you are expected to deal with. This is a bit of a put-off at first as you seem to be torn between solving five problems at a time. You're told that you need to build a warehouse, but you also need to build a drill. You need wood to build anything, but you also need to feed everyone. Because you start with only four people, it's hard to know where's best to put them, but once you start attracting more settlers you can be a bit more strategic. Apart from the Settlers aspect of the game, once you have inventors and blacksmiths inventing and, er, black-smithing more advanced machinery and weapons you can get stuck into the main objective of locating the jewels. Sending soldiers out into the wilderness is an excellent change in the gameplay, as movement points and battles suddenly appear in a game that up until now has been a passive village management kind of thing. The conquest part of the game really surprises, as you find yourself being drawn away from the village and suddenly organising ship attacks using cannons that you invented ages ago and sending out your men to seize land. Being able to 'go inside' the buildings that you have built is a nice touch that keeps the game from looking the same throughout, and the sonics and graphical tweaks also do their job very well. Genesia has so many aspects I doubt if the programmers would be able to sum it all up in a sixteen page review - but that's where much of the game's appeal lies. I can only close by saying that if you enjoy long-life strategy games and like the look of this then you really won't be disappointed with Genesia. A truly impressive game.
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