My wife and I are polar opposites when it comes to gaming; she loves her Facebook Flash games that are quick and easy to understand, while I love my Civ 5 and Empire games that are complex, intricate and last hours into the night. Lucky for us, Imagine Earth by Serious Brothers is a welcome mix of complexity and simplistic controls. If only it weren’t so blasted challenging.
Imagine Earth takes the premise of developing a thriving civilization and wraps it around a small globe which somehow reminds me of soccer or volleyball. Right clicking and rotates the globe around allowing access to any tile. Tiles are quickly and easily captured, converted or managed by left clicking and selecting from a simple window of icons representing available actions. The goal changes but is always achieved by claiming or developing tiles.
But the simplicity wears off once the interface is mastered. Every globe is a living environment and reacts to almost everything you do. Build one to many power plants, the polar ice caps soon melt from environmental overheating. Want to please your peeps with factories that produce nice shiny things? Fine, as long as you don’t mind some pollution here and there killing a few of those peeps off.
And the domino effect keeps everything moving. Once the polar ice caps begin to melt, flooding can wipe out some critical tiles. When the environment become unstable, weather becomes uncontrollable. Over develop your technology too soon and you are looking at a possible fallout situation. At times, it almost seems too much to handle. But this is where the interface helps out in subtle ways.
Easy to read icons pop up from important tiles which demand your attention. Certain resources flash when numbers are getting too high or low. And when all else fails, it actually is an easy game to pick up and put down.
Imagine Earth may not be the one game that brings my wife and I together for online gaming sessions, but it does serve as a easy transition from complexity to casual and back again. Besides, I have better reasons to get together with my wife. But this is not that kind of site.