Two decades after its debut, cult classic Egyptian-themed city builder Pharaoh returns to PC with a splash. Jointly released by developer Triskell Interactive and publisher Dotemu, a remake titled Pharaoh: A New Era came out on Steam on February 15.
A new dawn is rising over ancient Egypt, as nostalgic gamers and newcomers alike can now bask in the glory of one of the most brilliant civilizations in history. Building upon the same premises as its illustrious predecessor, Pharaoh: A New Era embarks gamers to the banks of the Nile valley. There, players are tasked with establishing the grandest city of all, turning their nomad settlement into a thriving urban center.
In pure city-building fashion, the game encompasses every aspect of the city’s steady development. Players must cultivate the fertile lands to feed their people while managing the settlement’s health and ensuring its prosperity by dealing with potential economic hiccups and political crises. Cultural influence is of the essence as well, leaving players to commission architectural projects of pharaonic proportions, from the Sphinx and the pyramids to the Lighthouse of Alexandria. The title also touches upon ancient Egyptians’ belief system through the erection of religious temples and mausoleums, as every self-respecting Pharaoh needs to carry out the will of the gods and earn their favor to keep their city flourishing.
A bona fide remake, Pharaoh: A New Era brings back its forerunner’s unique ancient Egyptian flavor to a tee. Just like the original, the game relies on a 2D isometric perspective. However retro as they might look, though, graphics have been upgraded to Ultra HD. Moreover, a fully reorchestrated soundtrack with traditional oriental instruments takes an even more authentic spin on Pharaoh’s Egyptian setting.
In addition, developers have overhauled gameplay mechanics to bring them up to modern standards. Gameplay changes include a fully redesigned and reworked UI, alongside new quality-of-life features like a Nilometer indicator and the ability to copy-paste buildings or deactivate predators for a chill gaming session. Various indicators remain in place to help gamers monitor their city’s progress.
Gameplay-wise, players can either kick off a Campaign to learn the game’s basics or start out in sandbox mode to give their imagination free reign. Involving everything from hunting to wagering war against enemies and building new housing plots, this expansive city builder boasts over 100 hours of content. 50 playable missions further spice up the experience, allowing players to delve deeper into the various historical eras covered by the game.
From the predynastic period to the New Kingdom, both the original and the remake cover 4,000 years of Egyptian history. This vintage city builder might be no history book, but every aspect of ancient Egyptian life has been designed to reflect that of actual cities of the Nile valley in the most accurate way possible. Pharaoh even plays out chronologically, staying true to the timing of major historical events, such as national disasters and military conflicts. Notable leaders and historical characters also pop up throughout the game, with the late DLC addition of Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile included in the remake.
An early precursor, the original Pharaoh arguably sparked renewed interest in ancient history in the gaming medium. While the title drew heavy inspiration from fellow city builder Caesar III, courtesy of Sierra Entertainment as well, switching the focus to ancient Egypt brought a welcome change to the formula. And many Egyptian-themed video games followed suit, from point-and-click action adventures à la Ankh to triple-A titles like Assassin’s Creed Origins.
Even the iGaming industry picked up the pace. The likes of IGT’s Cleopatra and Cleopatra Plus range among the most popular free slots out there. History buffs with a knack for gambling with an ancient Egyptian flair can therefore try out their luck risk-free. Top platforms even reward first-timers with lofty welcome packages and bonuses to make the switch to real money wagering that much smoother. And all pokies are compatible with mobile devices and desktop computers, giving PC gamers a fun break between their pharaonic-building sessions.
Twenty years on, Pharaoh remains as relevant as it was in 1999. And this year’s faithful modernization might definitely usher in a new era for this legendary entry. So, whether you’re a nostalgic player willing to revisit your favorite childhood game or a city-building lover interested in all things ancient history, Pharaoh: A New Era provides a thrilling deep-dive into the Egypt of old.