Rebel Inc: Escalation
I’ve never played Ndemic Creations’ previous game, Plague Inc., which was about crafting deadly pathogens and then releasing them upon the world. It did look interesting though. It sure became a cult hit and lingered at the top of several charts for lengthy periods of time. But that game came out back in 2016—since then, the one-man development team Ndemic Creations has learned a lot from his first effort and created a more in-depth experience this time around.
Titled: Rebel Inc: Escalation, this time the theme is based around building up a small nation after a large-scale internal conflict had nearly destroyed it. You must rise from the ashes and utilize every trick in the book in order to rebuild your country. And thankfully, you’re playing as the good guys in this game.
The first thing that I noticed about Rebel Inc: Escalation is how beautiful the map looks. It has a board game kind of appeal that is reminiscent of playing some of the best-looking physical board games that I’ve played in the past.
The gameplay basically boils down to a brilliant mix of strategy and politics. Governmental initiatives act as elements that increase other initiatives that you have set in motion or decrease penalties that you’ve incurred. Civilian initiatives are things that affect your stability more directly, such as improving certain aspects of your infrastructure. Meanwhile, the all-important military initiatives are how you recruit troops and requisition equipment so that you can fight insurgents and protect your various assets.
The tactical part of the game involves a highly sophisticated game of cat and mouse. Insurgent uprisings will periodically pop up on the map and you’ll have to send off elements of your military to deal with them. Just as in real life, insurgents that control sectors will make the local population unhappy, which will result in a loss of your reputation.
When your military happens to put the uprising down, the insurgents will scramble off to one of the neighboring sectors and start causing problems in that one. This can lead to your troops chasing them down as they scamper around the map. The only real way to destroy them for good is to surround them so that they can’t escape. Then, it’s Goodnight Irene.
Probably the most interesting aspect of Rebel Inc: Escalation (at least for me) has to be the dilemma system. Dilemmas will appear at random intervals throughout the game and sort of remind me of the choices you have to make in catastrophe management sim, Frostpunk. You’ll have to make choices about various matters and there will be some sort of consequences for what you decided on.
For example, let’s say you ordered an airstrike on insurgents but it also harms some of your civilians. Are you going to do the honest thing and admit your miscalculation? Or, are you going to be dastardly and cover the whole affair up? There are a lot of dilemmas and this makes the game feel more randomized and emergent.
In a smart move by Ndemic Creations, the rebels in Rebel Inc: Escalation are much more ambiguous than say, the ones in Afganistan ’11. Therefore, I doubt Apple will remove this game as they did with the latter title.
Overall, I consider Rebel Inc: Escalation to be a very unique game that combines different aspects of strategy gameplay that just aren’t found in other strategy games. It’s an unusual take on re-building a country from the ashes and is challenging, addictive, and highly fascinating. I’m looking forward to seeing how this title develops in the future.
Rebel Inc: Escalation has some pretty good looking graphics that make its stratrgic 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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