2 people found this review helpful
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 63.5 hrs on record
Posted: May 23, 2020 @ 3:53pm
Updated: Apr 3 @ 3:18pm
Product received for free

I played through the entire campaign. All four of them. After this many hours in the game I still can't tell most of the time what anything is just by looking at it, or even by its name. The designs and names are just too generic. Which one is a Hera? Which one is an Athena? Which one is a Cronus? What do they do? What are their strengths?

I'm attacking a bunch of buildings... which one is the anti-aircraft one again? Which one is going to destroy my dreadnaught? I have to zoom in really close to see it clearly, and even then I can't always tell what it is.

I can't imagine playing this game competitively, in real-time.

I have to pause or slow the game speed down frequently to select things and hover my mouse over their pictures so I can read the tooltips to be reminded which units they are, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. I never had that problem in other RTS games such as Warcraft, Starcraft, or C&C/Red Alert games. Come to think of it, it seems to be a Stardock thing, because Sins of a Solar Empire had similar flaws with generic units that were hard to tell apart or know at a glance or just by their name what they were good for.

Name any unit in any of those other games and I would probably have a pretty good idea of what it looks like and what it is used for. Or conversely, show me a picture of any unit or building in those other games and I could probably tell you what it's used for and what its name is.

But in Ashes of the Singularity - Escalation, the units are just generic sci-fi flying/floating machines without many standout features. Many of the buildings looks almost the same or have a very similar silhouette. And the names of things rarely help by being descriptive, at least if you're playing as the PHC (humans). The Substrate (sentient AI) race does tend to have slightly more descriptive names for things. The Martyr is the cheap cannon fodder. The Sky Cleaner is used for anti-air. The Masochist does more damage the more damage it takes. Most ground units are built in the Assembly. The air units are built in the Aviary. But out of the ~15 ground units, ~6 air units and the 20+ buildings that the Substrate can build, the ones I named above are the only ones that come to mind as having somewhat descriptive names. Many of the PHC units seem to be named after characters from Greek mythology.

There are other issues that are annoying or confusing. For example, the game allows you to group units together into armies, which will cause them to generally stay in formation and support each other. But for some reason it won't allow you to make armies of just flying units.

One thing that's really neat is that you can build a bunch of factories and set them up to automatically keep spitting out units as fast as they can build them. And at the same time, when you have an army selected, you can queue more units to be added to that army (as long as there's at least one non-frigate ground unit in the army). And if you queue up a unit to reinforce an army, it automatically gets added to one of the factories' build queues, which then just goes right back to spitting out the auto-build queue you set up previously.

But sometimes it seems to break. Sometimes only the factories that are auto-building will reinforce my armies, while any factories that are just sitting idle remain idle. And if I try disabling the auto-build of all my factories, sometimes some of my factories still sit idle while the others have a huge queue of units being built one after the other, instead of having all my factories divide the work evenly between them so that more units can be building concurrently.

The game could be a lot better. It's brought down by a bunch of little annoyances like that. But even despite these flaws, I enjoyed playing through the campaign.

I'd recommend it if you can get it discounted or free, like I did. I'm not sure I'd be happy with it if I had paid full price for it.


May 23, 2020: Added more details and fixed some typos. Probably added other typos.
April 03, 2024: Fixed a typo.
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