Ice Code Games/1C Entertainment
I’ve been a lifelong science fiction nerd who actually grew up to write my own near-future dystopian series. So, when I first laid eyes on video footage from indie developer, Ice Code Games’, cyberpunk effort, Re-Legion, I was smitten. I also liked the title’s clever play on words.
Re-Legion just oozes with dystopian trappings, from its Blade Runner–esque dark, rainy streets and trash strewn alleyways, to all of the assorted neon signage; it felt like I was viewing a near-future metropolis. Playing the game, however, reminded me that while aesthetics can be one thing, delivering a solid game is an entirely different matter…
The game kicks off with you playing Elion, an idealist visionary who has become disillusioned by the corporate state and all of its assorted lackeys and enforcers. From his humble beginnings, Elion must roam around the rain-drenched city and convert followers to his cause. This Matrix-like religious twist to the tired real-time strategy formula was a welcome system, as opposed to the usual “take over/build up factories and pump out units” sort of deal.
As you proceed to traverse throughout the corpo-metropolis, converting brain-washed citizens into sheeple with your own personal brand of brainwashing, you’ll eventually come across more capable hero-types that can bolster your forces considerably with their various abilities and special resources.
Another interesting facet of Re-Legion is that as you “liberate” all of these enslaved minds, you’ll then order them to carry out assaults on megacorp installations. However, if you so please, you can decide to be more on peaceful side of the philosophical equation; Re-Legion gives you the choice to guide your followers as you see fit.
This may sound all fine and dandy in theory, but how do these interesting design choices pan out as far as gameplay implementation?
As far as basic mechanics, Re-Legion is a really confusing bag of elements. It utilizes controls schemes similar to your typical, garden variety RTS, but makes it very hard to actually implement your particular orders. The game’s keybindings are in unintuitive places scattered all over the keyboard, which made it hard to give orders in tough situations. There were also so many of them that I often became frazzled in a clinch.
The movement pathing was also way off, and many of my underlings would get stuck on other people or objects. To top everything off, the mini-map was un-wieldy and trying to make out where I was in relation to my surroundings was quite a struggle.
As interesting and unique as the concept of Re-Legion is, the writing and voice-acting totally fall flat. Writing is something that can either turn a mediocre game into something mesmerizing, or make it seem amateurish and smalltime.
Here, I kept thinking that one or two of the developers thought that they were part-time writers and decided to give it a swing. But there is really no gusto to the game’s narrative beats or anything substantial in your dealings with NPCs.
The voice acting is also sorely lacking, with Elion consistently sounding like he was reading off of a teleprompter ala any of the un-funny late night “comedians” we have on TV. A futuristic, would-be prophet should have a magnetic voice, and the delivery of his lines should be impactful and make you want to jump in behind him and take on the authoritarian regimes of tomorrow, not roll your eyes.
I found it really hard to review Re-Legion because there is always a soft spot in my psyche for indie developers with totally fresh concepts. I still believe that if the game’s developers can address some of its flaws, it could be a contender. But until then, Re-Legion will probably only appeal to hardcore fans of neo-noir games who can somehow look past its faults.
Re-Legion features great graphics that make its RTS gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:
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