You must have come across that clichéd god-complex character in various anime, games and movies. Ever wondered what is it like to be in their shoes – revered and worshipped like the almighty himself with the power to change the populace’s very perception? This is where the cyberpunk RTS game Re-Legion come in.
Story & Narrative
The game begins with you standing alone in a futuristic street, reflecting upon your past deeds of how you had failed to carve the society. You decide to begin afresh, starting by converting one of the street loafers into your follower.
Re-Legion throws you into the body of a lone man named Elion, who yearns for reshaping the fate of mankind when he witnesses that people have traded away their dreams and aspirations for hedonism and decadence. True to him, you see tiny slobbered humans wandering aimlessly through the neon-lit streets and cheering to skimpily clad pole dancers in the next scene.
You’re supposed to lead them to light – preach them, bring them under your banner and use them to spread your cybernetic religion far and wide so that they can assist you in your crusade against the greedy corporations – the 1% of the 1%, the richest of the richest who hold more power than the government. Weaponize faith, organise invasive sermons to forcibly convert citizens to your cause and raise a cult in your name to free the society which has been kept subdued for years under corporate control.
Gameplay & Mechanics
Building on the formula of unit management from Syndicate Wars and World of Warcraft, Re-Legion stretches itself further and further forcing you to manage over a hundred units at a time! But sadly, the game stretches far too much to cripple in the middle, making it seem like a rushed-in product.
The basic idea of the game is to gain followers. This grants you resources (Crypto-coins and Faith) that can be used to anoint a follower to a Fanatic, which are the basic melee units with no special skills. As you organise sermons and recruit more of such followers, you’ll be racking up more Crypto-coins allowing you to anoint them to Purifiers (long-range attack units) and Monks (Strong melee units who have bullet and ranged damage resistance). By utilising your Faith you can anoint followers as Preachers who will, in turn, generate even more Faith and roam the streets spreading your anti-corporate messages to bring more people under your banner. Though initially, you have a limit on the number of people you can bring into your cult, the limit gradually increases till you reach a point where you are controlling about a hundred such people (which will seem like a zombie horde if zoom out). Ultimately you’ll be building an army to take on various types of enemies like automated drones, robots, sentry turrets and even rival cults.
Just like other RTS games, you have a sanctuary which you’ve to guard at all cost. Set up turrets, station your men, do anything to protect it from harm while you rally your followers to take on the enemy at some other part of the map. Really fast fingers are required to switch back and forth across the map because the game’s terrible AI makes it nigh impossible to simultaneously manage all of them without flaws. One pathetic flaw I would like to mention is once converted, your followers will still roam about the street in their pre-determined path unless you manually select them and then command them to go to this location. This becomes an utter nuisance when you are managing around 70 people and they are roaming and dying all across the map before you anoint them (because after anointment the AI seems to gather its senses and follow you).
Crypto-coins will allow you to buy new skills (called Dogmas) for Elion and upgrade your followers’ abilities as well, but doing that consumes up a large amount of crypto. Which means you’ll have to keep recruiting people into your cult to generate an equal amount of the currency. The game has three paths to choose from after Elion becomes the Prophet, but none of that matters because all you’ll be doing is throw your followers into the enemy’s meat grinder because they are the ones who die first – simple-minded civilians taking a bullet in your name just because they’re forcibly made to believe (by you) that you’ll lead them to enlightenment. Elion often says when you select him that there can be peace, if God allows it, yet all you do is select your units and order them to attack the enemy with the sole language of violence –. Basically what is happening in the real world, but that’s a topic for another day.
The missions in the game are quite basic: siege that crypto-bank, take over that gun shop, control that territory etc. with no serious implications that you might have expected to feel. But within the pile of flaws, I found a challenge, thanks to the dumb AI. You see, your units will seldom listen to your commands, attacking any form of an enemy they see even if you mash the button to issue the retreat command (and here I would like to mention that not all keyboard commands are registered e.g. the command for selecting all the units rarely works). This happened with me, and all my units got wiped out by a rival cult who had Preachers and started inducting my own people into their cult, which in turn began attacking my cult. Within seconds my number of followers went from 92 to 16 just because the command to fall back didn’t register in time. Adding woe to this, the camera movement is clunky making travelling across the map quite a chore. You would be dragging your mouse to select Elion’s abilities at the lower right corner of the screen and suddenly the camera will slingshot to the far end of the map. This is really annoying when your sanctuary is under attack and your men are either scattered or dying or being inducted into the rival cults, leaving you completely clueless of how to tackle the predicament.
Graphics Sound & Performance
As for the voice acting, only that of Elion is top-notch – you can clearly notice the change in his tone before and after he self-proclaims himself as the Prophet – the rest are pretty much mediocre. The healer named Shereen is an utter letdown, sounding like a generic healer who seems oblivious and least interested in what is going on around her. Your right-hand man Falin juggles on the brink of composure and all-out rampage, often succumbing to the later which makes him sound very…one-dimensional. Then there’s that hackneyed hacker with a hackneyed name PHR34K (freak), who is someone I want to punch right in the face because of the cringe-worthy dialogues he spews out when you select him. The one-liners spoken out by your different classes of followers are also lacklustre (there can be no peace, god won’t allow it) but they are just cannon fodder anyway, better not think about it.
The graphics are a visual treat for the eyes and will satisfy that cyberpunk hunger of all those who have spent two decades to play a proper Syndicate game. But take away the neon aura, the buildings are more or less the same: a strip club here, an abandoned shop there and some weird scientific stuffs sprinkled in between. The streets feel very empty, in contrast to what you should expect from a dystopian era. In addition to it, the game suffers from an assortment of graphical issues like infinite loading times (GTA V must be smiling at this) sound glitches and eventual crashing of the entire game.
If you are really looking for a cyberpunk RTS, (sigh) this should not be something you should look forward to. But if mind-blowing visuals please you, then be my guest.