East India Company – Designer’s Cut (PC)

We’re at sea!
Yes good old colonial era madness as we take to the waves in the HMS Reviewist boldly selling Tiger Skins and Ivory all over europe, africa and india in this game.

Read my SquareGo review here.

East India Company – Designer’s Cut

4/5
East India Company – Designer’s Cut

Have you ever dreamt of a simpler life?  A life where the things expected of you are more demanding yet even more satisfying? A more haphazard existence, making ends meet amidst the foam and the welcoming arms of the sea?

No? Fair enough. The days of Empire aren’t the stuff of legends or songs any more. Indeed most people will meet mention of the East India Trading Companies with a vacant stare or a comment about someone called Jack Sparrow. (That’s ‘Captain’ Jack Sparrow -Ed)

But oh the days of Empire! In those days when the British owned the seas and the rest of the world struggled to maintain its grip on the new lands and riches of the East, there was only one great organisation which held more sway than the various crowns. A vast conglomerate of trading fleets and vessels known as the East India Trading Companies, making voyages across the oceans to ensure that the rich could get the finest of silks and skins, wine and food from all across the Empire.

Finnish Developers Nitro Games have taken up the challenge of recreating this era of pirates and trading for the games market. The love and general attention to detail that’s been put in is not only admirable, but by putting the player firmly in command of an East India Company, they have built a game that is not only beautiful and captivating but entertaining as well.

The game is mainly viewed from an atlas-style perspective, looking down on the cities and ships as they go about their business of sailing, trading and occasionally fighting. The meat of the trade is done through a series of well set out and easily understood menus. You can choose your ships in port, look out for the best exchange prices and task the captains with buying where it’s cheap and selling on dear with a handful of mouse-clicks. Trade can even be automated between ports to give you a steady income at a local level.  Or everything can be individually chosen for the perfectionist deal-grabber.

However that’s only a fraction of the game.  The might of the naval fleets from many countries are afloat, and it’s necessary to bring out the sword, not to mention the cannon, more than once to win. Garrisoned ports need must be stormed to ensure an easy supply of goods. There are also wars to be fought as well as bargains to be struck between nations. Here, clever politicking can be as important as money.

Armed combat is of course the other side of the coin, and here the game really excels.  When ships engage in battle you can switch between a standard 3rd person battlefield view-point, using point& click commands to attack, retreat and encircle your opponent. However, you can also Command from the deck of the bridge, watching every cannon being loaded and fired as the wood splinters around you. Which despite being impractical is highly atmospheric and fun.

If East India Company has a failing, it’s the pacing, pirates attack unexpectedly, at the worst moments while the time taken to amass enough capital to create a prestigious name amidst the waves seems inordinately long compared to the computer foes.  It’s also at heart a patient trading game, not a war simulator, but if you want a great looking and sounding experience on the waves you can’t do much better. So up the hammocks and fly the commission from the main truck me hearties. Thar be silks to trade in Calcutta!

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