We continue our E3 impressions with the second game we were shown during Hooded Horse’s presentation, Alliance of the Sacred Suns. Previously, we had talked about the RTS Terra Invicta, whose impressions you can read here.
A Complex Marriage of 4X And RPG
Alliance of the Sacred Suns takes place a thousand years in the future, where humanity’s last empire is on the brink of collapse. Behind the scenes, noble houses compete for control over the dying state as the lives of ordinary people begin to thrust into an interstellar dark age.
Through a wealth of systems, you can negotiate with these houses to provide humanity with a glimmer of hope regarding its survival. Each choice you make will not only have a consequence for the world but your character as well. Furthermore, with a different win condition for each house, the game encourages you to role-play different strategies.
A Rare 4X Where Your Character Is More Than Just An Avatar
What stands out about this game is that the emperor or empress you choose to play as is much more than just a simple avatar on screen. In most 4X games, the character you choose is just a visual persona. However, with Sacred Suns, the character you select is fully fleshed out with their own needs and desires.
This means that your character’s mental state can be affected based on the choices or actions you make. You will have to keep an eye on various needs, each represented with a different bar, to ensure that your character remains positive and healthy.
As mentioned before, the system and its planets are split between six houses. Each house has its own culture and ambition, influencing how they respond to your character’s actions. Consequently, this also means that if your character goes against the grain, it will also affect not only their standing but, as mentioned before, their mental health as well.
Game of Thrones in Space
The developer showcasing the game acknowledged that at its core, the game is politically driven. When mixed with the conflicting six houses, this aspect reminded me quite a bit of Game of Thrones.
The game is primarily driven by your interactions with different people and their houses, where specific actions aren’t something that you just do but instead have to achieve through bartering. This means that care has to be given to diplomacy, and ultimately maintaining relationships can not only benefit your standing with a particular house but also hinder it with others.
One example showed how the player could help build a transport system for a particular house; however, doing so had a ripple effect on other houses that felt left out. To help you keep track of your standing, the game features a relationship system that shows you who your allies and enemies are.
Limited By Mortality
Driving the fact that you are playing as mere mortals limited by time and their needs, you can’t expect to do everything you want in-game. The constraints come in the form of action points that run out with each choice you make, forcing you to strategise and think along the way. Similar to other 4X games, these points replenish after each turn.
With these limited points, the best strategy seemed to be looking after your populace and making sure that their needs are met. The better you treat them, the more resources you will generate. This further encourages you to think before you deal with the other houses, as you want to ensure that your people remain happy and effective.
Ultimately, the game feels quite complex, with a robust political core driving each system. Whilst there were elements of 4X space exploration and unique encounters present, Alliance of the Sacred Suns seems to be innovating and mixing interesting mechanics not commonly seen in this genre.
The character system and diplomacy led progression felt like a breath of fresh air, which RPG fans will appreciate, with different houses allowing you to change your playstyle completely. This is a game that I can see being played and replayed for a long time.