Romans In My Carpet Review: promising strategy game, but not quite there yet
Spanning from the westernmost point of the Iberian peninsula all the way to the middle east, the Roman Empire was one of the largest in the ancient world. In contrast, the warriors that you're given control of in Romans In My Carpet are microscopic in size. They are anthropomorphised dust mites, actually, and their ultimate goal is to achieve dominance across... a stereotypical dorm room. That's the game's silly plot, and that's what made us curious enough to give it a try.
Before the real action starts, there's a tutorial that guides the player through the basics in Romans In My Carpet, such as moving troops around and using their abilities against the enemy. We were also explained how certain unit types have an advantage over others in battle – for example, cavalry can single-handedly wipe out the enemy's ranged units, while the ranged units are highly effective against infantry. However, little is said in the tutorial about the various passive and active skills that units possess. To learn more about their use and effects, we were required to consult ourselves with the codex – an in-game manual explaining how these work. And seriously, we had to go back to it a lot until we actually got a good idea of what we were doing.
But even with the codex's help, we found it difficult to get the hang of Romans In My Carpet. We failed the first round over and over, switching from one strategy to another in hope of gaining the upper hand. Simply put, the game can be quite frustrating at first. It isn't something that you just pick up and play. Becoming good at it takes time and patience, which many mobile gamers probably don't have much of.
Another thing that we don't like about Romans In My Carpet is how battle turns are conducted. It goes like this: first we're required to assign an action to each unit – move, attack, or whatever – before the battle round commences. Then we hit "Go!" and these actions are performed in a sequence without further involvement on our side. The odd part is that the sequence involves the enemy's units as well – if one of our units is first to act in a given round, then one of the opponent's will be second, then a unit of ours will act third, an enemy unit will attack fourth, and so on until this pre-determined sequence is over. The player has no control over their troops' actions during this battle stage, which is why units down the queue sometimes end up attacking blank spaces from which enemy troops have already moved. Practically, they might miss their shot. This makes no sense to us as it renders coming up with a strategy frustratingly difficult.
The list of disappointing things about Romans In My Carpet continues with its requirement for an internet connection in order to play. Yes, you can't play a single-player game while offline as the turns are processed on the game's servers. But we're not sure if you'll be playing against the AI for a long time anyway. The Romites campaign consists of 5 battles only, and then you get to play 5 more as the Breetles. Both campaigns can be completed in a day with a little trial and error. The fact that there's multiplayer doesn't make the game a whole lot more exciting. We tried playing online, but because of the mode's asynchronous nature, battles against random opponents tend to take ages. We also encountered server errors along the way.
Still, there are a few good things about Romans In My Carpet. The game's theme is fresh and its pixelated graphics have been drawn well. The music and sound effects fit nicely and some of the unit descriptions are hilarious. This, however, isn't enough to justify the title's $2.99 price tag. We were expecting more bang for our buck – the gameplay mechanics need more work, the campaign could have been expanded further, and as a whole, the game just isn't all that fun to play.
- Well-drawn pixelated graphics
- Fresh theme and concept
- Playing it can be frustrating at first
- Action assignment in battles makes no sense
- Not easy to learn
- Requires internet connection even for single-player mode
|Developer: Witching Hour Studios||Download: Android, iOS|
|Genre: Turn-based strategy||Price: $2.99 (with in-app purchases)|