E3 2021 Preview – Alliance of the Sacred Suns
Of all three games presented by Hooded Horse during their E3 2021 showcase, the most complex and promising of the bunch was without a doubt, KatHawk Studios‘ Alliance of the Sacred Suns. It’s a mixture between the grand strategy kind of gameplay you would expect from a game like Crusader Kings, a spacefaring setting, 4X, and political intrigue between factions found in RPGs and to a lesser extent, Game of Thrones. A half-hour appointment with the devteam barely scratched the surface of what the game has to offer, but that’s actually a good thing. I’ll try to explain as much as possible of what I was able to see, but the game will offer a lot more at launch. At the very least, that’s something to look forward to.
In Alliance of the Sacred Suns, you can basically control your own Palpatine. You take control of an Emperor representing a feudal-esque house of nobility. Your goal is to expand your empire, with your own agendas, all while trying to not to get killed by a rival faction uprising or civil revolt. You’ll need to constantly partake in decision making, often leading to unpopular choices, all while trying to increase your resources and domains while getting ready to face an impending alien attack. Think of these aliens as the White Walkers and all other factions being the tons of Westeros houses who should be joining forces to deal with a common enemy, but can’t be bothered to do so until they have their agenda fulfilled first.
The first thing that caught my attention during the presentation was the protagonist himself. You can completely customize your character with stats and your noble house name, but what impressed me the most was some of the conditions that can actually lead to your death. For instance, doing tons of morally questionable deeds can result in the death of your citizens and impact the mental health of your emperor, leading to a more premature death. Or you can increase your overall mental health stats to make your character more impervious to these acts, if you want to become a cold tyrant.
I loved how complex everything is, while still remaining fully logical. For instance, you have both a popularity and a fear meter. You need to have either one of those at a pretty high level if you don’t want to suffer a coup d’etat, but one is harder to achieve than the other. In order to be feared, I’m sure you can already guess you’ll need to make decisions that make you seem powerful against the populace, such as acting like a military tyrant. In order to become popular, you need to invest in social programs that can improve welfare, but that costs a lot of resources which might not actually be abundant. Plus in order to get said resources, you might need to forge alliances with people that either don’t like you or are friends with people who don’t like you.
Interacting with viceroys or rulers of other planets is a tricky business depending on how powerful they are compared to you. The game offers a lot of information pertaining to all of their stats, as well as the best way you can approach them. If you’re powerful, but approach them in a friendly manner, they will react positively, reducing their overall “grudge” gauge and bringing them one step closer to your circle of trust. If you’re not a diplomat, you can also use brute force to achieve your goals, at the cost of making more enemies. Remember, they all have their own close circle of allies and whichever action you take will also influence in their perception over you.
That’s just the surface of what Alliance of the Sacred Suns has to offer. You can colonize new planets in order to create new trade routes for your empire and invest in different resources and industries for each of your colonies. You can also establish logistical routes between star systems. Not to mention the fact you can wage wars against rival factions in true 4X fashion.
I’m looking forward to the full release of Alliance of the Sacred Suns in order to see everything the game has to offer. The preview session felt overwhelming, but in a very good way. This is the kind of 4X/grand strategy game you’ll mostly spend tons of hours into, but with a vibrant and polish space setting. If the developers at KatHawk Studios end up delivering everything they stated during this session, then we might have a surefire contender to the Crusader Kings throne.
Alliance of the Sacred Suns is slated for a Q4 2021 release for PC only.