About At the Gates
At the Gates for PC is a turn-based strategy game developed by Conifer Games. It is a debut project of the studio, however, the lead developer, Jon Shaker, is a real veteran of the genre, as he led the creation process of Sid Meier’s Civilization V and co-created story campaign for Elemental: Fallen Enchantress.
The game is set in the latter part of the Roman Empire’s domination over Europe. Players assume control over a barbaric tribe trying to take advantage of the fading Roman power to achieve dominant position across the Old Continent. Since other tribes have similar ambitions, it is not an easy task. Moreover, the Romans, even though weaker now, continue to pose a significant threat to one’s expansion. Generally, At the Gates resembles Sid Meier’s Civilization series. One starts the game with a small tribe inhabiting an uninviting land with a task of exploring the world and gathering resources. Later on, one can move the tribe to a more fertile area and begin cooperation with other nations, including the Roman Empire, which can be later used to one’s advantage. Whenever a nation becomes obsolete, a player can decide to wipe them out. Gameplay mechanics become more complex as the tribe develops into a true barbarian empire.
The developers put all their efforts into avoiding a problem that haunts similar games – after some time, gameplay becomes dull due to the player’s inevitable triumph. The PC release of At the Gates features scarce resources, which decrease in numbers with each turn. This mechanic forces player to search for new sources even during the final stages of the game. Moreover, the in-game world simulates dynamic season changes. In winter, for example, all the fertile grounds become useless and rivers freeze over, making it more difficult to travel on water. Diplomatic relations with other nations constitute another important aspect of the game. They can be established through player’s actions – e.g. helping another tribe in need. A gift of food offered to starving Atilla’s subjects can turn this ruler into our faithful friend. The game also features battles, during which one has to execute tactical maneuvers, as well as skillfully take advantage of the land form and changing weather conditions e.g. to cut off enemy’s supplies.