Let’s head back into the ancient days of the Greeks to try and grow our nation into something great. We’ll need to manage how much goes into what to get there, but I’m sure we can, right?
Pre-Civilization Marble Age is another take on the tried and true turn-based strategy game. My only real other experience with one is Civilization V and Beyond Earth, so those are heavy influences on my playing of this. That said, this game does handle a bunch of things quite differently for better or for worse.
When you start Marble Age you get the choice of one of two groups – either the Spartans or Athens. The Spartans are more focused on building up great armies to wage war, whereas Athens would rather sit back and try and work everything else. You can choose one of three different difficulties, though I only ever chose to play on Easy. The Spartans are a bit more difficult to play as, which is fitting since they were something added in a later patch.
Once you have control, you’re placed with a lot of sliders. Instead of just having everything auto distributed as needed, you are in charge of how much goes into what. The more people in one place, the more of that resource you’ll receive. At first you need to keep this in a delicate balance. People will start to become unhappy if anything is in the negative. Sometimes you’ll have to give up some of your army building to help get more food or money. It’s hard to be precise with how much you want to put in something, a relic from it being on mobile previously.
Marble Age does have a tech web much like in Civilization V and Beyond Earth. Unfortunately, it’s a LOT more limited than in those games. As in, it’s a pretty linear tech tree. You can only get certain things once you’ve hit certain technology levels, and even then you have to get what comes before it. At first you can only get the first tier of everything, but once Greece becomes “united” you can start to get the second levels. I didn’t really like how I was basically forced down a certain path regardless.
As you play, you’ll be given objectives to fulfill. Depending on who you’re playing as, this will change. The Spartans, for example, are more focused on raiding other cities and getting bigger by force. At certain points, specific events will happen that require you to fight, regardless of who you’re playing as. Until you’ve actually obtained a grasp on how to manage things, these events are likely going to wreck you hard. Should you fail them you have to deal with the consequences until the point in time in which you can final rebel back and regain freedom.
While it can be a bit rough to learn, the gameplay is pretty addictive and you’ll still find that “just one more turn” feeling here. Unfortunately, you might start to get a bit turned off by the translation if you’re playing in English. Marble Age was originally a Russian game that almost seems like it was just thrown into Google Translate to be brought into English. There are some points where it seems like the English is so horribly mangled that you have to read it around five times to make it even make sense. Needless to say, even though I found the gameplay addictive, I never actually played past doing each group once because the broken English was irritating me that much. Something tells me it really isn’t supposed to be a “feature” of being set in such an ancient era.
So yes, while Pre-Civilization Marble Age can bring you into a time sink, the English becomes extremely hard to bear. The management can also become a bit too repetitive, and felt that way even just with two playthroughs. No, I don’t really enjoy having to try and build up so much money – more than I really can in the time limit – to try and get rid of a portion of the Barbarian attack, only for them to just get even more troops soon after. I also didn’t enjoy that once I’d hit the point of “Get enough points and you win”, the game STILL ended after a final 10 turns instead of turn 310 like it’s supposed to automatically. I felt a bit cheated, seeing as I actually did feel like I had a chance at getting a better medal reward at the end. But of course, nope, denied, because the game decided it would end early on me.
Pre-Civilization Marble Age Review Score
The horrible English ruined a good portion of the experience for me, and the game deciding to end early when I thought I finally had it was just the final straw. It’s still a decent game overall for the price, but if you can afford it I’d rather suggest to go for a larger strategy game such as Civilization Beyond Earth.