Image via Bulwark Studios
Game developers, especially strategy game makers, often try to pick the best elements from successful titles to emulate in their video games. The makers of Ixion have also attempted to replicate the same formula, taking inspiration from popular city-builder titles like Forstpunk and They Are Billions in their new game. Unfortunately, instead of making it a commercial smash, they released a product loved by hardcore strategy gamers and hated by casual audiences for its unbalanced gameplay.
Despite being a strategy-based simulation game, Ixion has a well-written storyline interwoven between its complex gameplay. Earth is in its last days and as part of a fictional organization called Dolos you are tasked with searching for other habitable planets in your spaceship Tiqqun. As you prepare for your expedition, you accidentally destroy parts of the moon, eventually triggering the destruction of Earth from natural disasters. The rest of the story revolves around dealing with all your guilt for destroying everything at home, and whether you can find a planet for your remaining few hundred crew members before the hull corrodes.
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Even if it sounds like a cliche story from famous Hollywood movies, it is unique in its presentation and storytelling. With beautifully written dialogue/cutscenes explaining the plight of the grave situation. The few characters we meet, like the head of Dolos, are well integrated and give the arc a purpose rather than just appearing for its own sake. Plus, as you progress, the storyline continues to condense as you learn the mysteries of Dolos and the ultimate purpose of your journey. The climax of the story is best of all as it is compelling enough to justify my 50+ hours of playtime. The developers also added an alternate ending to the default ending to increase replay value.
While the story and narrative are top notch, it’s a linear experience and can be a turn off for players expecting a variety of narrative choices leading to multiple outcomes.
score: 3.5/5 stars
Right off the bat, Ixion looks and plays like any traditional city builder on the market. As chief administrator of your spaceship Tiqqun, you must maintain the confidence and stability of your crew members by providing them with all the basic amenities in their quest for a new planet. You accomplish this with common gameplay elements found in strategy games, such as resource management, research upgrades, and layout planning. Gameplay is solid and all features work as intended. But there is a big problem: the game is insanely hard. In fact, it’s so gritty that many players will go straight to Chapter 2.
The main reason players would quit is the unavailability of adjustable difficulty settings, and the one available throws up unnecessary and frustrating hurdles beyond your control to hamper your progress. For example, there may be permanent loss of trust due to storyline incidents or randomly generated accidents in one of the buildings. Everything feels like it’s curated to make new players ragequit. Also, you can’t ignore these random shenanigans, as they often come back later in the game to bite you, eventually resorting to backtracking and replaying several hours of a particular chapter.
In addition, flawed design and writing ideas further increase the difficulty factor. For example, you would expect the last group of people to be hardworking and focused. Instead, the game declares most of the people on the ship to be non-workers who hoard building lots and eat for free. They cannot be trained to learn skills or cruelly cast out to make space. This is in contrast to Frostpunk, which allows players to send children to work. Even simple things like transferring resources become quite difficult for no reason as you can’t share resources between sectors even though they are all on the same ship. Additionally, key features like sector policy implementation are available so late in the game that they become redundant and serve only as fancy buttons.
score: 2/5 stars
From the first cutscene, Ixion looks and feels like a premium strategy game with AAA graphics qualities. Everything from the planets to the interiors are rendered well and don’t look distorted or gloomy from any angle when you zoom in. Aside from the visuals, the game is also pretty well animated. Especially the ship and building models as they have unique animations based on their current status. For example, you can find people working on a ship when they are being serviced in the dock area. Small details like this add flair and increase Ixion’s immersion value.
The other major visual highlight is the lighting of the sectors, as they are neither too bright nor too dim, but have a balanced tone that matches the vibe of a space survival game. The game’s interface is also pretty neat, unlike most strategy games that clutter the menu with unwanted toolbars and stat bars that you don’t need for most of the game. I especially liked the separate buttons for the three playable areas, as they helped me quickly navigate between them and solve pressing issues without much effort.
score: 3.5/5 stars
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Music and sound design are two aspects where Ixion does not compromise. The original score is perfectly timed to match the pacing of the environment in each scenario. Be it the somber theme depicting the destruction of the moon or the synth-based music played as we descend to expand human civilization along the Ashangites. Everything feels natural and takes the scene to the next level. The music on the home screen is also so addicting that you might be inclined to spend a few extra minutes in the menu before jumping into a game. Even if you don’t buy or play the game, if you’re a fan of the synth/electronic genre, I highly recommend listening to, or at least skimming through, some parts of YouTube’s original playlist.
Equally brilliant is the game’s sound design. Each game mechanism has a unique sound that perfectly represents its functionality. For example, you can hear the pouring of molten iron in the steel factory, which adds more life to the whole atmosphere. Even cutscenes like moving your Tiqqun starship are well composed and never seem artificial or unmatched by the sequence of thrusters.
Although there aren’t many characters in the game, the voice acting of those who appear is clear and conveys their mood and intent. The voice acting of Vanir Dolos, CEO of Dolos was outstanding as the actor perfectly portrayed a fictionalized version of a desperate CEO trying his best to save human civilization.
score: 4/5 stars
Verdict – Casual players can pass this one
Ixion has moments in the form of a good story, an excellent sound score, and quality graphics. At other times, it can be a tough game, and combined with its few gameplay design flaws, it becomes extremely unwelcome to new players entering the world of strategy games. Because of this, we recommend Ixion for the veterans of the strategy genre who would be better suited to taking on such tough challenges. For casual gamers who are itching to play simulation-based strategy games, you can pass this one and opt for other hits of 2022, like The Wandering Village or Land of the Vikings, which are more beginner-friendly.
We received this code from Bulwark Studios for verification purposes.
For more information on Ixion, see How to Get Hull Integrity in Ixion or How to Transfer Resources in Ixion in the Pro Game Guides.
https://progameguides.com/ixion/ixion-review-casual-strategy-players-need-not-apply/ Ixion Review: Casual strategy players don’t need to apply