Fate Of The Pharaoh – Review

Title   Fate Of The Pharaoh
Developer  Cateia Games
Publisher  Cateia Games
Platform  PC
Genre  Strategy/management/kingdom build
Release Date  24th August, 2011

After a long war waged upon Egypt by its enemies, the once great country was left in chaos and ruin. It now falls to you, as Pharaoh, to rebuild the kingdom and restore peace and prosperity to the land and its people. With your trusty advisor as your guide, Fate Of The Pharaoh steers you through 44 levels, with two modes of play and a few achievements to grab along the way.  The first thing you’re asked (well, the second thing after your name) is which mode do you want to play?

Your choices are Adventure and Relaxed. In adventure mode you have something called the ‘Time Of Ra’ – a set time in which to complete the level and upon which the achievements in this mode are based. Relaxed mode is the same game but without the time limit and the achievements are simply awarded to you for progressing,  although you still get bonus points for completing the level within the set time. The thing is, even though I played through on relaxed mode (being a fierce hater of time limits), I managed to complete every level with maximum time points on the first attempt.  It’s really not that hard, and even though it was my first time playing the game, I might as well have played it in adventure mode for all the difference it made.

Each level is a simple, one screen village layout, with set building plots and a few specific goals to achieve. The first few levels start out with only a basic ‘Tent’ available and all you have to do is build a few and collect gold, in the form of taxes, to give you a feel for how the game is played. Each house has a little bar over it that fills up over time and when it’s full a button with a pyramid icon on it will appear. Clicking this button will cause a servant to emerge from your palace, collect the gold, then scuttle back to line your pockets with it. As you progress, working your way across the level select map screen, you get introduced to more building types and your people start demanding more and more services. No, sadly not those kinds of services!

In addition to collecting taxes, you’ll be telling people to fetch water and food, mining materials, repairing buildings, upgrading houses and clearing obstacles. All of this has to be commanded by you. Manually. Which means your mouse will never be still or silent. It’s non stop *click click click click*. In fact, I’m surprised you don’t have to order them to go to toilet, they’re that helpless. I mean, what’s the world coming to when you can’t even go and fetch water from a well without being told to.

No, better to sit there and pout, it would seem. If you aren’t prompt in keeping their needs met then you lose happiness points, while doing what they want before they stamp their feet gains you the aforementioned points. In the later levels it gets pretty frantic, with things popping up all over the screen that need your attention, fast. I had to take a food break between levels because there just wasn’t time to even eat during one; taking notes was impossible, as I quickly found out.

The majority of the levels average around twelve minutes each and I completed the game in about seven hours over two days. “Pretty standard,” you might be thinking, but remember, this is supposed to be a strategy game. If you compare it to a title like the epic city builder, Pharaoh it’s like it is residing in an entirely different genre. It’s so unlike any strategy game I’ve ever played before that I’m not even sure that’s what it should be classified as. It’s linear, like a strategy/world-builder on rails – or training wheels.

It’s like Pharaoh for eight-year olds. Now that’s not necessarily a bad thing… it’s a fun little game with levels that can be squeezed into anyone’s timetable due to their length. The music is cheerful and suitably Egyptian-y and gels well with the smooth 3D gameplay mixed with vibrant 2D paintings. The whole colourful package makes for a perfectly enjoyable game, accessible to just about anyone, and as long as you don’t take it too seriously and try to compare it too harshly to other world-building games, then there’s no real reason you shouldn’t enjoy it… as long as you’re not looking for story, because you won’t find any. Even the ending is pretty anti-climatic and abrupt. Oh, and guess what? Aliens helped build the pyramids.  Ahem.

  • Beautiful graphics
  • Bite-sized levels
  • Accessible to all
  • Not much replay value
  • Very linear
  • In-game achievements are pretty pointless

Fate of the Pharaoh is a fun and colourful Egyptian themed strategy game, with bite-sized levels and a great deal of micro-management. The fact that it doesn't come with a manual won't be an issue, as it remains relatively simple to handle, easing the player into the game so gently that one isn't necessary - definitely a first for its genre (whose games usually come with inch-thick tomes and levels that devour huge chunks of your life).

Fate of the Pharaoh is gentle and easy to play; the perfect strategy/management title for the casual market, while genre veterans and those seeking more of a challenge should probably stick to the classic 'Pharaoh'.

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  1. Richie Rich says:

    If I didn’t constantly want to punch this very PC right in it’s microprocessing nuts, I’d give this a go. It looks kind of friendly compared to the usual strategy stuff (graphics look a bit XBLA too). I’ll keep it noted for the future.

    Good stuff as ever, Tan!

  2. Edward Edward says:

    It sounds like a laugh, but if I want a strategy game for the next while I’m still going to stick with Fate of the World. It may be a micromanagement nightmare, but it doesn’t require me to be constantly clicking and alert, so that’s a plus too.
    So yeah, it sounds like a good game, but I’ll probably pass :)

  3. Ste Ste says:

    I might just be showing off but it seems a little bit too simplistic for me. I like a good challenge from my strategy games and from your review it sounds like its pretty much impossible to fail a level.I think I’ll be giving this one a miss. Nice write up Tan.

  4. Samuel says:

    It looks rather like the dumbed-down Anno that Ubi put out for the Wii a couple of years ago – the art style and graphics presentation is uncannily alike, actually, and so is the taking of a more involved and venerable game and stripping out most of the depth and complexity. Of course the period isn’t the same and there are some differences, but it’s still very similar looking at it. It’s good in a way, because it’s a niche genre and it might get some fresh blood interested amongst gamers possibly too young to get to grips with a full-blown strategy management sim. But at the same time, I imagine I’d very quickly find it tedious personally, so it’s one I’d wind up skipping.

    Enjoyable review all the same, and it’s nice to see one of these games still cropping up from time to time. Perhaps if the genre gets a bit more attention through titles like this one, I’d get more to look forward to by way of the full-on sims than just Anno and Settlers every two to three years, or Patrician once a decade. Nice one, Tania.

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