Millennia Offers A Few Time Twists For Turn-Based Strategy

Reviewed On
Steam (PC)
Available For

Turn-based strategy games on the computer have been around forever, and the genre will likely always be among the most popular being played at any given time. There are thousands that people can choose from including simple titles like Polytopia that boil down the essence of the turn-based into its barest elements, and there’s also wild fantasy melees like Unicorn Overlord which straddle the line between tactical combat and role-playing.

But among the city and nation-building type of titles within this realm, there are some acknowledged heavyweights that everyone recognizes as the top titles, with Civilization being number one on most lists. The only problem with the Civilization games is that they do not tend to release that often, so people end up playing and replaying the older titles to get their fix because almost every entry in the series is pretty amazing.

Now, among the non-Civilization games that rule the strategy universe, many of them are either developed or at least published under the Paradox Interactive banner. They include Europa Universals, Total War, Crusader Kings, Hearts of Iron, and a few others. The new Millennia title from developer C Prompt Games falls into that stable now too since it’s also published by Paradox.

In a lot of ways Millennia seems to try and be like Civilization, while it also goes out of its way to try and not be exactly like it – including adding a unique time shifting mechanic that allows players who concentrate on city-based goals to control how the world advances for all players.

Millennia starts out with players selecting a country (I went with the United States), and you always are in the Stone Age when the game begins. My first city, Washington, was provided with a few club-wielding units and tasked with exploring.

The gameplay is slightly obtuse. It’s not difficult to figure out, but just very strange to a new player, even one who is fairly familiar with other turn-based titles. The first issue I had was with the zero-sum nature of city upgrades.

In Millennia, you can either work on a city upgrade or produce a single military unit. In the early game, you might think that going the military route is best because it gives you more ability to explore. And that might be the case, but you are doing so at the expense of being able to upgrade your empire and ultimately choosing where the timeline goes next.

The various eras or time periods in Millennia advance based on certain conditions being met. These criteria can include researching certain technologies or completing objectives. It is important to note that the country (and player) who meets the objectives first gets to choose the next time period, which is an incredible advantage if planned out well. Perhaps you have the right combination of factors to make your country successful in a certain era, so you want to push for that. But the AI is also pretty smart about that kind of thing, and it will often beat you to the punch and select the era on you. That means you could end up falling behind just because you wanted an extra military unit.

This mechanic really does make Millennia unique among strategy titles and different from Civilization. But it takes some getting used to, especially since it’s kind of a core mechanic. Had it been combined with a little bit more advanced combat system, it might be even better.

Combat in Millennia is not as strategic as some of the other games that Paradox publishes. When your armies engage, the event is little more than watching the tiny figures shake swords at each other. Overall, I found the combat side lacking. In fact, anytime I had to resort to combat, it kind of made my gameplay experience a bit less fun. I know the developers are adding patches and doing some tweaking, so perhaps we will see this a bit better defined in the future.

It was pretty great that as your society advances, you can change and choose different government types. One of the choices was the Moundbuilders, which I instantly picked. Fun fact: where I’m from in Ohio we have two mounds that are now World Heritage sites. While the people who built them used to be referred to as the Moundbuilders, they are instead now known as the Hopewell people who built the mounds. So, to see something that is local like that included in a grand strategy game is really cool.

Graphically, Millennia looks great and sounds good too. It’s certainly on par with other similar titles. It’s basically mimicking a board game, so don’t expect anything too amazing, but things look good enough that you quickly see what everything is and what it represents, while also helping to enhance the gameplay. The soundtrack and the supporting sound effects are likewise good for a title of this type.

Millennia is not a bad title. Once you get the hang of the era-advancing mechanic, it can be pretty fun, especially if you have burned out on most strategy titles that give you maybe a handful of victory paths each game. Millennia will force you to think on your feet and adjust your winning strategy each time, especially if you are not in control of how the ages advance.

Give Millennia a try if you are looking for something a bit different in strategy gaming but also that’s kind of familiar and fun at the same time.

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