Clockwork Empires, the steampunk sandbox colony-building game with a Lovecraftian twist, is coming next spring.
We first heard about Gaslamp Games’ Clockwork Empires more than a year ago, when it was described as sort of a steampunk Dwarf Fortress for the masses, with a healthy dose of Lovecraft thrown in just for kicks. Now, finally, it’s time for a closer look.
The game has players take on the role of a Junior Bureaucrat (Colonial Grade) in a “marvelously handcrafted steampunk dystopia,” who’s dispatched to establish colonies for the benefit of the Empire. It’s a tough business, but promotions, fame and wealth await those who can get the job done; alas, Science and Progress and all that tomfoolery has a way of getting out of hand. And by “getting out of hand,” I mean “bringing about the rise of Lovecraft-style horrors who sow destruction and misery amongst the populace.”
Not that such things are necessarily bad for your career, however. “The player is essentially an architect of a society that’s gone a bit off the rails in an industrial revolution,” Gaslamp Games CEO and Clockwork Empires Lead Producer Daniel Jacobsen explained. “The uniqueness of building this world inside the Empire is the ability of the player to do what they want, including the freedom to fail: We’ve given characters an incredibly intricate set of tools allowing them to construct a world and unleash cosmic horrors in vast, complex ways.”
Jacobsen also implied that no matter what players do, the colonies are destined to go to hell in one way or another. “The player is left with their own choices for his or her characters – there are rewards and consequences for each action,” he continued. “Eventually it unravels into a remarkably entertaining character-driven cataclysm filled with incredibly horrifying-yet-delightful possibilities – death, disease, prosperity, science and more – without a true victory condition.”
Along with the standard single-player campaign, Clockwork Empires will also offer multiplayer for up to four bureaucrats as well as a “turn-based ’round robin successive multiplayer saved-game file” option. “The outcomes can vary so greatly it was important to design the game to be as shareable as possible,” explained lead programmer and Gaslamp CTO Nicholas Vining. “From building to strategizing, exploring and the emergent player-to-player shared content, no two games will be alike.”
It all looks and sounds very cool, but hey, I was sold at “character-driven cataclysm.” For those who still need convincing, these screens and teaser should help, and Gaslamp has also been nice enough to open up a very informative Clockwork Empires website at – you guessed it – clockworkempires.com.