Apollo4x Screenshot 1
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Apollo4x

Apollo4x is a game of transporting 5 resources between planets, and you have limited fuel to do so. It's a bit puzzle, a bit resource management, and some tycoon strategy. There are no build queues, and you are having meaningful interaction with your economy every single turn. There are no "other players" to compete against, but we've instead used a "time pressure" type enemy that consumes planets as it spreads across the map - because a fun game needs a challenge component, and we find symmetric AI opponents problematic in other games, so this was the best solution. Difficulty is fully in your control, and ranges from zero-challenge to something the creators can't beat, so you'll find your own best settings with experience.

Apollo4x has "4X" in the title, but this is not an indicator that we've made a "traditional formula" title like Master of Orion, or the games that follow that economic and combat model. Steam has a multitude of games that do, and do it so well that there's no point in us making a competitor to them.

The Idea

What we did is toss out the economic model of exploring a hidden map, having AI opponents that attempt to play the same game as the player (because they generally fail, and obviously cheat) and long build queues where you just hit "next turn" 100 times before anything significant happens. Rather than have you build a navy of spaceships and militarily conquer other simulated players, we made more of a tycoon puzzle economy. Each planet has three "exports" and you put two "imports" on them. Money is made by matching exports on one planet to imports on another, with the limitation of fuel availability, which is dependent on how upgraded each planet is.

The Enemy

Since we don't have simulated players to compete against, we decided on using a "creeping doom" style opponent. The enemy spreads out organically from their homeworld(s) at a pace you determine in the difficulty settings. You can, and will have to, slow their spread and defend your own planets from this steadily encroaching threat. Each enemy colony adds +1 army to their homeworld defense, so the player is encouraged to keep the enemy from growing into an impossible strength and speed of expansion by "pruning" their colonies. If your chosen win condition is to cleanse the galaxy of them entirely, you'll have to weaken them first through attrition.

Combat

We went out of the 4X realm and built in a tactical card game inspired in part by some of our favorite tabletop combat games. Morale, combined arms, and multiple possible tactics for each of the very unique units to choose from every turn. Four different enemy clans to battle, based on the four horsemen - death, war, pestilence and famine. Each has an entirely different set of units and tactics and requires a completely different battle plan to beat. War fights with brute force, while pestilence attacks with morale crushing horror weapons, and death gave up their bodies for machines and now are the unliving reapers. Currently there is no space combat or fleet building, being instead like Starship Troopers where your troops are "dropped in" and just fight the ground war. This is to keep things simple and not have two different combat systems in a game that's primarily a trading puzzle - but if Apollo4X does well, it's on the list for whatever sequel we make.

Winning

Winning the game is accomplished by either economic or military means. You can kill all the enemy homeworlds. Alternately, stockpile 300 of each market resource, or upgrade your colonies to produce a cumulative 500 "stellar network" points and colonize 20 planets. Military, economic, or expansion victory is your choice.

Game Difficulty

Finally, we allowed you maximum choice of difficulty. Tailor the game to your needs, so you feel challenged but not overwhelmed. If you think the economy could be more resistive, turn it up. If you want to not worry about enemy expansion you can weaken them, start them with less colonies, or lower rate of expansion. Or, if you really like the combat game, set the economy to easy and add all four enemy types to the map at maximum strength -- good luck with that, though. If you want to go fully casual, we even allow you to turn off economic failure, and have unlimited funds to experiment with. We, as players ourselves, lose interest in games that are too hard or too easy, so it seemed important to give the player full control of it. Since most people want to play on "average", we'll be listening to feedback about which difficulty settings are most popular and adjust the "average" levels to those trends down the road a bit.

We dared to be different in a genre full of excellent but too similar titles. If different is what you need, this is it.
Promote for 50G

Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

Overview: Apollo4x is a unique 4x space game that has you playing a Venice-like planet-state. Rather than building large warfleets as in most games, trade is the key to victory. Colonized planets provide 3 resources which must be sold to other planets. The more planets, the more money. Unfortunately with more money also comes factions in the planet-state that'd like their own cut of the pie and ancient Centaurs which serve as the main external antagonists to the game. To defeat the local dissidents, just throw them a few bones here and there and they'll bother someone else while ignoring them can cause a lovely coup as they decide your rule doesn't serve the planet's 'best' interests. If you cater to their needs, you may just unlock special abilities that can save your skin when the Centaurs decide your worlds would like better in their possession. Combat involves recruiting a balanced ground force and picking the correct tactics as you go against four different kinds of enemies, each with different tactics on each unit.
Positives:
(+) Uniqueness - Apollo4x seeks to breathe in a new formula to the tried and true 4x. Rather than being an Alexander the Great, the player is a Machiavelli leading a planet-state to economic glory.
(+) Beautiful Ground Combat - The background and combat cards have this archaic look as if it was from a 90s adventure game. For most games it might seem an odd choice of graphic design but Apollo4x executes it extremely well. Ground gameplay forces you to recon the enemy tactics used each turn and then designate the appropriate countermeasures. There's enough challenge each turn that you can't just use the same formula over and over and even if you 'figure out' one race, there's 3 others that would like to meet and have tea with you.
(+) Domestic Options - There's no direct budget you'll have each turn. Instead you'll be forced to pay in terms of resources to answer the numerous complaints various Apollo factions have. Answering more requests will provide the approval and 'clout' that is used to gain new abilities and use those abilities, respectfully while ignoring domestic issues will eventually cause a Glorious Revolution. Glorious may not represent what happens to you as the leader though...
(+) Multiple Victory Options - If peace is what you want, then peace is what you can have by building a galactic stellar net or becoming the undisputed economic powerhouse. And if war is what you want, then by whatever god you worship, go burn your enemies' worlds to the core.
Negatives:
(-) Lack of Tutorial - While the manual is indeed well-designed and explains everything, the lack of an ingame tutorial does require new players to make an active effort to learn the game mechanics by going back and forth from the manual and the game with a little trial and error.
(-) UI / Camera Scrolling - The sin of 4x games has always been in the UI. While it's not horrible, Apollo4x's interface is a bit clunky and awkward. Camera scrolling on the galactic map has you right clicking between planets rather than a more simple WASD setup which serves to be a small nuisance.
(-) No Multiplayer - I really hope this can be added in the future. The game has serious multiplayer potential that needs to be exploited.
Verdict: Despite having to fix a fridge, the house is in great shape. The gameplay works well and is plain fun. The Devs are a great bunch of people who are passionate about the game and working on fixing the few minor bugs and then expanding the game further.
8 dead centaurs / 10
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For those who want to see some gameplay:
Channel Link:
It's a long video but it covers all the basics and I've attached timestamps for various sections of gameplay.

Review from Steam

An interesting puzzle game. Nevertheless I can't see it to be a 4X title...whoever thought to name it such, might not have understood 4X.
It's a short game, as it doesn't motivate me too long. But if you have some spare time it might be ok for puzzling arround the flight routes of your merchant ships. Go for it if you could get it on sale...full pricing is too high for my taste.

Review from Steam

Don't let my low hour count fool you. I've been playing this since the Alpha became available on Gamersgate last November.
This is a very good alternate take on the 4X genre, and plays more like a board game than another MEE2 clone (MOO 2). Having been in this hobby for over 30 years, it's refreshing to see a new take on something, and I applaud the developers for it.
Could it be better? Yes it could. I find the 3-D map to be beutiful but tough to navigate, and after looking at it a couple of times just go with the 2-D version. I have a couple of other ideas for improvements that I will post in a separate thread, but if you have any interest at all in turn-based strategy games with lots of interesting decisions, this is a must buy.
Plus think of the doggies.

Review from Steam

Quite the surprise!
Although the game lacks some polish (texts, balance, pace...) the game is deep enough for a few hours of mind struggling.
For myself, kind of a fan of 4x and merchant strategy, the game has some good mechanics. No need for spreadsheets. There are very few different commodities whose prices changes every turn. That forces you to redo your trade routes again and again, at least until you get the mechanics of investments. Also you cannot spend an infinite amount of money each turn (diminishing returns, remember?) so after a while you don't need to trade anymore. That's a good thing.
The combat mechanics are a bit complex and very shallowly explained. But once you get the hold on it is interesting. I've been just reloading savegames to test combat strategies. And only tried one race.
I guess the game can easily provide beyond 20 hours of solo entertainment for a fan of the genre. Hopefully that helps you if you consider buying the game.

Review from Steam

This game is a new kind of 4x. My first run beating the game it crashed 0 times! Pretty good for a Steam game these days. If you are into 4x games and dont mind card based battles buy this. Make sure to watch the video and read the manual.
9/10

Review from Steam

I only recomend this game to 4x space genre super fans. The game attempts to use very different mechanics than is usual. It does not quite work and can get boring after you work out what the hell is going on. I like it because it is fresh and very different to the other games in my collection. Get it on sale. Expect maybe 8 hours of gamplay before you put it down.

Review from Steam

This is very much a 1st Impressions review and will be edited if necessary as playtime increases.
So... You have an interest in Space 4X? You like the many Space Trading Games? You enjoy games like Magic: The Gathering? You actually crave games that make you think?
If you have answered yes to one, or even all of the above. You owe yourself to give Apollo4X a purchase. Yes, I am saying that right away. Why? Because all the aforementioned is in this game and then some! But now, you are probably thinking..
"Oh great, another game genre mashup that just will not work!... I'll Pass!"
Hold on... Not only are each of these elements solid in their own right. But in Apollo4X, they come together to make a super solid, unique and rather innovative title that shouldn't be overlooked. As a 4X game, you will not do something, then mash the turn button waiting for something to do. Each turn has strategical depth. You must meet colonial demands, purchase resources, build up colonies, prepare and plan for trading.
Trade is not an option in this game. It is one of Apollo4X's core mechanics. If you do not trade, you will go bankrupt, and you will lose the game. No population building leading to masses of taxes here. You have to be strategically aggressive in your interplanetary business, as the more you expand, the greater the upkeep. Colonists Empire-wide will also make demands. Ignore their demands, you suffer loss of approval rating and if that hits 0, you will also lose the game.
If that wasn't enough, there's the Alien Centaur threat to deal with. They are aiming to take over the whole galaxy, and most importantly, take you out by capturing your home planet of Apollo. Whilst their are no space battles in the game, land battles are played out as a card game. This game has a fantastic strategic complexity as battles are not one on one. Each card will affect several others in a deck. So what you select, and the tactics you choose in how to play them matters. So even when you are outnumbered and outgunned, it is still possible (But not easy) to win a battle.
So after some 1st impressions. What are the pros and cons?
PROS
- Starting the game, maps are not final. Feel at disadvantage? Just don't like the map? Throw it out until you find something you like.
- This game has depth from the start to the end. You will not be hammering the 'End Turn' Button. Gameplay is engaging and there's always plenty to do. Strategy is key, you will have to think! A strategy that works in one game, might not work in another.
- A genre mashup that actually works. There's no 4X like it. Apollo4X is truly a unique and innovative game that pulls you in!
- One more Turn Syndrome? You bet! The game is fun and totally engaging.
- A welcome 2D galaxy option for those who require it.
- Many options before starting a game can potentially serve up lots of replay value!
- Your purchase will be helping to save rescued dogs... Good bang for your buck in both game and charity.
CONS (Can also be positives for some, including myself)
- Although not a disavantage by my standards. This game takes the old school approach. There is no tutorial mode. You will have to read the manual. Understand, and pay attention to what every section of the UI does. The learning curve will be steep at first.
- Maps can get busy fast, and initial confusion might arise. There's a lot of information to react to every turn. Turns are not quick, and neither is mid-late game trading and combat. You will not finish a single game in just a few hours.
- No storyline or campaign. Just the old school way to play. If you're looking for 100's of random events, and a story to follow. You will not find it here.
- A few very small issues here and there which will be tightened up with a bit more community feedback.
TL;DR? - An innovative 4X game that dares to be different from the normal formula, and as first impressions go, it suceeds! If you are looking to buy something different, buy this game!