First Aubrey & Maturin sailed into the digital world, and now one of my all-time favourite games, Illwinter’s strategy masterpiece Dominions 3, has finally made its way to digital download shops Desura (edit: and Gamersgate)! It’s also reasonably priced, at $30. Why is it one of my favourites?
1. It brings mythology/dark fantasy alive in a way that so few games – and almost no games outside RPGs – have managed. Elves? Orcs? Balrogs, even? Phooey. Dominions serves up titans plucked from Tartarus, queens of the air with clouds for bodies and lightning for fists, glamour-casting faery knights, and more. And in between scurry the poor human conscripts, so hopelessly outmatched as to underscore just how significant magic — and divinity — are to this world. (If you’d like to read more, a few years ago I wrote a guest piece on this very subject over at Flash of Steel.)
2. It is insanely deep. The game contains 50+ playable factions divided into three eras, hundreds of magic spells, and I don’t want to even think about how many units there might be. The skill of playing Dominions lies in knowing how to construct a coherent strategy out of these building blocks; and in knowing which particular tool is best suited to a given situation. Acquiring that skill is a long and arduous process – but the sense of mastery that results is worth it.
That said, the game won’t be for everyone. Its production values are what you’d expect from a labour of love made by two guys in their spare time. Its learning curve, as noted above, is very steep. And most seriously, if you take the time to play optimally, the late game turns into micromanagement hell — I remember spending upwards of an hour takimg my turn in multiplayer.
But, heck, that’s what demos (scroll down the official site) are for! Try the demo. See if it scratches your mythological / fantasy itch, or your strategy one. If it does, then pick up the full versions and get ready for one of the most rewarding gaming experiences of your life.
This Gamespot review is very fair