Can You Make The Best Puny Human Army?

HIGH Easy to start, difficult to master. Great humor.

LOW …not realizing you lost the run 30 minutes ago.

WTF Bakers throwing pretzels and BSDM whip warriors are both overpowered.


TRANSCRIPT:

Hi everyone! Eugene Sax here with another review from Gamecritics.com

What does a plunger, a fish, a sword, and a gravity gun all have in common? They can all be used in Despot’s Game: Dystopian Army Builder! 

When the game begins, players wake up and are greeted by The Despot — an AI program that controls a deadly labyrinth where a handful of humans are trapped. The Despot explains that if they can make it to the end of the labyrinth, then they will be awarded with a fabulous prize. Is this true, an experiment, or just a game? Players will have to survive to the end to find out.

Despot’s Game is a roguelike autobattler. Players start with a small army and must travel room to room in the labyrinth while looking for the exit. Each room will have a random event to interact with – anything from an enemy battle, an encounter with a peaceful character, or a store to purchase new weapons and upgrades for the player’s army.

Where does the autobattling come in? Players will organize their army, but won’t control each character. Essentially, each human in the army will attack the closest enemy until one side is eliminated, and each win will grant the player resources to use.

Every human in the player’s army will start identically as a puny weakling, but this will change once players equip them with a weapon. Weapons not only change how the character can move and attack, but this equipment system is at the heart of winning Despot’s Game. 

Each weapon will turn a human into a particular soldier class – swords make them become Fencers, thrown items like a fish or a football will turn them into a Thrower, and shields and tables will turn them into Tanks. If a player can get different weapons of the same type (a fish, a football, and a pretzel are all Thrower items) they can unlock a special ability for all soldiers of that type. For example, Fencers will have an increased chance for critical strikes, Throwers will have a chance to throw a bomb that deals AoE damage, and Tanks can taunt enemies to aggro them in order to keep the rest of the army safe.

Maintaining an army isn’t easy, though, because soldiers get hungry. As players take their troops from room to room, they’ll have to feed each member to keep them at peak performance. If players don’t have enough food to feed everyone between rooms, the hungry soldiers will deal less damage and receive more from enemies. If players get to a point where the hunger meter is completely empty, players will have to sacrifice soldiers (and their items) until they can put food on the table again.

If players manage to get to the end of the labyrinth, they’ll pit their winning army against other players around the world for one last set of autobattles. The winning team of this final gauntlet will be the one army allowed to truly escape The Despot’s hellish maze.

At the time of writing, Despot’s Game feels unbalanced in a significant way. There are no persistent upgrades after each run, so each new run starts the players off at absolute zero. However, it is possible to unlock items and upgrades that will appear during a run. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that when players encounter a shop they will find these newer, better items — or even that they’ll find items compatible with their army at all. Players can spend resources to refresh the stocks of a store, but it’s a gamble at best.

The other big issue is how Despot’s Game obscures when the player has actually lost a run. For example, players may win a battle but lose a key character. It may seem like the army can press on, but there were many runs where I realized seven or eight rooms later that I had no real chance after one bad fight. However, it’s not always obvious that this is the case, so I’ve wasted just as much time on runs that were basically impossible to win as I have on runs that had a real chance of success.

Even with the issues present, I adore Despot’s Game. The humor, the atmosphere, and the casual nature of play make the it easy to get into and play around with all of the crazy army combinations that can be put together.

Despot’s Game is currently in Early Access, and is getting better with each update. I’ll keep grinding until release and see everything this one has to offer!

For me, Despot’s Game: Dystopian Army Builder gets an 8 out of 10.


Disclosures: This game is developed by Konfa Games, and published by tinyBuild, and it is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PC. Approximately 12 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: There is no current rating according to the ESRB. Players will be controlling humans, giving them weapons, and watching them fight robots, mutated plants, and zombies. There is no gore, but players dissolve into skeletons or explode (organic or non-organic enemies). There’s a lot of humor, but I can see some of the humor may not be for younger kids. Teens and up please.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: All information is displayed through text, but text size is not resizable. The sound provides ambiance, but is not necessary to play. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: The game does not have remappable controls, but does provide a control scheme.

Eugene Sax
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Mcculum Yandis
2 days ago

I really liked the video you posted here and the overall review. Thank you for such an in-depth analysis of the despots game.