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Sorcerer King: Rivals is a new standalone expansion to the original Stardock fantasy 4X game, which was released in 2015.
I am the God now.
I reviewed Sorcerer King when it was released last year, and for the most part I enjoyed my time with it. In particular, the game’s doomsday counter, which essentially put the player in a constant fight against the clock to avoid defeat at the hands of the eponymous villain, was a great mechanic. It created a sense of urgency, putting pressure on the player to make quick decisions.
When it comes to the game’s premise, Sorcerer King: Rivals attempts to change things up. This time around, the player is thrust into a world in which the Sorcerer King has already won. The challenge now is to free the world from the Sorcerer King’s grasp – in a nice addition to the game, players can even achieve this by seeking ascension to Godhood themselves.
Just like riding a bike.
As with any expansion, Sorcerer King: Rivals delivers some fresh content in the form of new quests to tackle and new factions to play as. Sorcerer King: Rivals also expands on its predecessor in other areas, namely an increased emphasis on fleshing out the backstory of the characters and world which populate the game. Sorcerer King’s website has been updated with information that helps enrich these aspects a little more.
Gameplay wise, things are obviously largely the same: battles are fought via direct control or auto-resolve, although as with the original game, encounters are fairly short in order to avoid the player having to resort to the auto-resolve option by default. For relatively even encounters I often preferred fighting it out myself, as I found the auto-resolve would unfortunately throw out some pretty crushing defeats. Loot can be obtained via chests and battles which open up an array of crafting options, and new abilities are unlocked via the acquisition of post-battle XP.
All in all, It’s easy to jump right back in to the action. Navigation of all the various menus is fluid, and there’s plenty of options when it comes to upgrading champions, equipping newly crafted gear to various units and building up cities. Aesthetically, the crisp and bright presentation remains a major appeal.
One issue players of the original Sorcerer King might have with this iteration is that there really doesn’t seem a whole lot new to justify a purchase here. While owners of the first game are, to be fair, offered a discount when purchasing Rivals, other than the new conditions for victory and new champions this expansion still feels fairly bare. I’m not one hundred percent sure I buy the ‘standalone expansion’ label – which is the main reason I have awarded Rivals a slightly lower score than I gave Sorcerer King. For new players however, it’s well worth the price given the game’s well worked mix of RPG and 4X elements.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.