There’s something to be said for strategy games that are simplified in nature. In my youth, I was all about playing games that were as complicated as possible to satisfy my mind’s need to escape from reality for a while. Now that I’m older, I’ve come to appreciate simpler strategy games because they allow me to unwind without overloading my brain, something that parenthood and working full-time already do in abundance. “Auralux” happens to be the latter, being similar to games like “Eufloria” and “Oil Rush” in that you’ll be managing an army of “X” without the complications of base building and resource collection. Before we get started, I’d like to thank E. McNeill for providing me with a free review copy.
The main menu allows you to choose a map, view credits, and exit the game. I didn’t see any sort of options menu that allowed me to adjust the sound and music volumes, nor any way to toggle fullscreen and screen resolutions. No options menu also means no way to view keybind controls, so you’ll be learning as you go. The game worked fine as is, but I still think there needs to be some sort of way for the player to customize their play experience. I would have liked a way to lower the music volume for video recording purposes, for example.
I counted a total of twenty-four different maps to choose from, each varying in size and design. The goal is the same, however…be the last man standing. Each star or “sun” under your control will automatically produce units. The number of units and the frequency of units produced depends on the size of the sun. The larger the sun, the faster units spawn there. Your job will be to clear the map of enemy AI, who are trying to do the same thing as you. In the ten maps I spot-checked, I found myself up against two enemy AI players, red and green. I would have liked a way to customize the maps a little, perhaps by being able to choose my color and decide how many AI opponents I would like to play against. I also didn’t see a way to adjust the difficulty, something that I feel should be present to help new players get acquainted with the game.
The controls in the game are simple, despite there not being a way to view the control scheme. The “+” and “-” keys change the size of your targeting reticle. Moving units from one location to another is as simple as clicking and holding the left mouse button of the units you want, dragging the mouse where you want to move them to, and letting go. The units will slowly make their way to their destination. Unlike “Eufloria”, these units all have the same strength and speed, so you won’t see some units overtaking others. If you have units near a sun not under your control, you can move your units to it in an attempt to capture it.
Below each sun is a bar, which informs that player as to the status of its ownership. As you sacrifice units to a neutral sun, the bar below it will fill up in blue until it is full. Once the bar is full, the sun becomes yours and units will begin spawning there. Capturing an enemy sun is a bit harder, as you’ll have to bring over enough units to get by the units stationed / spawning there AND have enough left over to sacrifice in order to bring the health bar to zero…which defaults the sun to a neutral state. Once that occurs, you (or your enemies) are free to sacrifice units in an attempt to capture it.
So what separates this game from other like it? Probably the most attractive quality about the game is its visual and audio styles. The colors are incredibly sharp and eye-catching, and the music changes somewhat based on what is occurring in the game. If you’ve ever played “Chime”, you’d be familiar with that idea. The game plays techno-like music but will throw in sound effects to complement the main song based on the actions being performed in-game. Attacking enemy units with your own, for example, may add sound effects to liven up the background music.
In the end, “Auralux” is a fun, casual experience that is full of ambience. It does have room to improve, namely by way of customization options. I believe that adding an options menu and allowing the player to customize the levels they play will add more functionality and replayability to the game. To be fair, there is speed and nova modes available that speed up the gameplay (shift F5 or beating three levels unlocks it on the PC). On a positive note, I did find myself being drawn into the levels and the visual/audio stimuli that comes with them. In my opinion, it is worth the $4.99 price tag (as of 1/26/13) for those of you who enjoy lighter RTS games. While the game is currently available for the PC and Android, I’m told that plans to bring the game to other tablets are in the works. Keep an eye out!
Final Verdict: 6/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Auralux” by visiting the following websites:
You can view video play sessions here: