Strategy games are becoming a rare breed these days, and when I stumbled upon Codex Of Victory, a game that is a turn-based game, featuring base building similar to what you find in real-time strategies, I immediately threw myself at it. Probably a lot of people will given the RTS drought. What did I find out while playing and is it worth your time? Read on below to find out.
Codex Of Victory is available for purchase on Amazon for $13,64.
Codex Of Victory features a story, setting, and characters that feel very familiar. I feel like it takes inspiration from multiple sources such as XCOM, Warhammer 40K and Red Alert. Not much sets it apart from the usual Sci-Fi genre tropes. The good guys, Human Kingdoms, do battle against the bad guys, Augments. Human Kingdoms expanded through space from transnational corporations. Since they were rich beyond imagining, they soon began creating aristocratic dynasties, naming themselves Kings and Dukes, creating a huge social divide. On the other side of the spectrum, Augments were formed from humans who tried to adapt to harsh conditions of space and hostile planets by implanting their brains into robotic bodies and began a crusade of "saving" other humans with the same process, be they willing or not, essentially making them The Borg from the Star Trek series.
You assume the role of Lord of Human Kingdom and deal with some separatist forces at the beginning of the game, before setting sight on ridding the Solar system of the Augments. The story doesn't delve deeper into the setting that offers a lot of potential with themes like transhumanism, evolution, and survival. This is certainly no Deus-Ex and I feel that the devs missed a great opportunity here to add another layer of depth to the story rarely seen in an RTS. Instead, they delivered what feels like a backdrop. The main characters never ponder on these issues and just plow their way through any opposition that stands in their way.
As mentioned, on the gameplay side of things we have a mix of real-time and turn-based segments. Building up your base, army and dishing out upgrades takes place in a setting similar to real-time strategies and the combat is turn-based. Hexagonal shaped slots dot the entire map on which your units move. As you would expect, each unit has a different range of movement, attack range, strength, and armor. These factors make for an intense game of cat and mouse and you really need to familiarize yourself with each of them if you want to win, even early on in the game. In the vein of other turn based games, each movement and construction have a price, which is here represented with Action Points or AP. You can increase the number of your action points gained each turn by taking over settlements scattered across the map.
Action points system can be limiting as it maxes out fairly quickly and that can be bad news for those who love amassing big armies. Again, the emphasis is more on mixing and matching your units in a blend of cheap, mobile units and expensive and slow, but hard hitting ones. Units can also be modularly upgraded, and doing this can mean a ton of difference in the late game. It's kind of a risk reward system, where you have to decide if you want to focus more on building more units or upgrading the existing ones to prevail against your enemy.
Unfortunately, in my playthrough, the AI mostly relied on amassing low-level cheap units, and later on in the campaign even has some units that are difficult to overcome without a high degree of unit knowledge. Sometimes I even noticed that the AI didn't behave according to the rules the game has set and could spot it producing a bit more units than should be possible. None of this is in any sense game breaking but I would certainly love if the difficulty was upped in some other manner than straight up being unfair. Despite this, the game features a steady curve in introducing new units and increasing the difficulty so you shouldn't feel too weak or too powerful at any point in the campaign. There are exceptions of course as the game takes place across multiple planets. You conquer one after the other, slowly gaining ground to launch an attack on the Augment stronghold planet.
Overworld planet map has you selecting areas you want to attack next, with indicators showing how difficult an area can be. Sometimes the enemy will reinforce a previously easy area to make it harder for you to attack and the difficulty curve in these instances can be massive. Despite this, many of the difficulty and AI cheating problems can be solved by gaining a deeper understanding of units that are at your disposal. It is one of the rare instances where the game offers you a sense of satisfaction.
Another thing to mention is that the game features an overworld base construction similar to the system used in XCOM series. An ant farm where you dig and manage limited space, constructing various buildings that can produce units, gain you resources and other. The system is not as deep as seen in XCOM so you won't get any bonuses by placing two similar buildings adjacent to one another. Again, planning is crucial here, as a poorly constructed ant farm can cost you dearly. I was often forced to reload a previous save to re-evaluate my tactics and build another building so I would gain access to another unit that would see me through the battle.
What I found painfully missing from the game is the skirmish mode. Although the campaign is the main meat of the game, a skirmish mode serves to make you set up the scenario in which you practice your skills in the preparation for the multiplayer or just straight up mess around with the units. I can't imagine a modern RTS to miss this important segment of the game and consider it a great con in the overall score.
Graphics and audio
When I saw the screenshots and other promotional material for the game I was instantly reminded of Red Alert 3. A 3D RTS with a heavy outline and a bit of cell shading thrown in for good measure. All in all, the game is aesthetically pleasing with detailed textures even when zoomed and a highly saturated color palette. There isn't much in the way of effects and other graphical trinkets as the game is turn-based, featuring the exact same attack and explosion animation every time your units clash. That doesn't hold it back as the cell shading style really suits the game and makes it a bit different from the competition.
The game runs a steady 60 FPS no matter what is happening on the screen or how many units are present. This is in part due to the already mentioned lack of effects and the turn-based nature of the game. Things don't get a chance to be frenetic. Despite that, the game seems polished in a technical sense and only once or twice did it crash on me at random moments.
On the audio side of things, the game is lacking. It features little to no memorable music and the dialogue is completely subtitled. This, in turn, contributes to the story feeling like a backdrop and what little potential the characters had is lost due to them not being voiced at all. Turn based nature of the game once again means that audio effects of battle and other events are down to a minimum making the game often feel silent and bland.
I find Codex of Victory to be a mixed bag. It has a lot going for it but makes some rookie mistakes that keep it from reaching higher. A deep campaign, plenty of unit customization, strategy, and planning is what will keep you around for some time. After that, there is not much to keep you around. The game can get old pretty quick and you will know in the first two missions if the game is right for you.
It's a bit on the slow side as is expected from a turn based game but the lack of graphical, audio and other stimuli, that other turn based games often have, further enhances the slow and bland feeling of it all. The game provides little to no feedback when in combat and it rarely feels satisfying altogether. You might like the story but the way it is presented will keep only the most persistent of fans through to the very end. I can only recommend Codex of Victory if you hunger for turn-based RTS games and it will keep you satiated, if only for a short while.
|+ Some nice graphics||– The story|
|+ Surprisingly deep strategy||– Lackluster effects and sound|
|+ Difficulty||– No skirmish|
|– Some difficulty spikes|