From outer space, a UFO plummets to Earth. It’s an alien spaceship from planet Indra, which contains a starmap and a plea for help. The leaders of our world convene and reply with a human delegation. The crew, though, is unaware of their real mission. They’ve been sent in to spy on these new neighbors and discover more about them.

It’s 2072 AD. Safe on the ground on Indra, the travelers are slowly awakening from hibernation. We are the commander of this expeditionary force. The planet’s peppered by violent storms and all but inhabited. It’ll be up to us to survive among the alien factions, balancing fragile alliances and dangerous conflicts.

This is the premise to Tempest Citadel, the latest game by British indie studio Aartform Games. Able to perfectly fuse sci-fi and fantasy, the title’s presented as a management sim with strategy elements. Imagine the lovechild of XCOM and Civilization, with Humanity in the role of the invader!

Perfect Panel For The Job

Tempest Citadel’s diamond core is the in-game control panel. The UI lets us handle every aspect of our personal strategy. We can review our crew, assign them tasks, check our missions’ progress, and keep an eye on the Flying Fortress. That’s an alien outpost that the humans use as their North Star and navigational reference, by the way.

From a different screen, we’re also able to manage every member of our delegation. To further customize our approach, we can choose who to wake up and who to keep in stasis.  Each of our guys abilities are influenced by their combat training – melee, heavy, sniper, and so on – and general mission role.

As they survive and thrive, our characters are going to level up. Tempest Citadel lets us shape these people’s lives by assigning them a job, gear, and passive skills. Stocking up on different kinds of equipment is paramount to success, especially since the game fully relies on the diversification of roles.

Let’s nto forget that we’re also in charge of the colony’s RnD facilities. From ballistics, to robotics, medicine, and nano-technologies; it will be up to us to carve humanity’s evolutionary patterns. Each choice gives us access to new tech, shaping everyone’s future.

Finally, the Human base features an engineering bay. Once we’ve collected enough resources from dig-sites and battlegrounds, we’ll be able to craft our own items.

Lights, Camera… Action!

That’s not all Tempest Citadel has to offer. Once the plan is ready, it’s time to put it in action. That’s done through the planetary map, a central hub that shows the entire world around us. We have the power to decide which missions to prioritize, with the final goal to expand the colony and unravel the plot.

At some point, fighting  is also bound to take place. The battlegrounds are procedurally generated and envelope a variety of the planet’s biomes. The results of these skirmishes – often fought over tiny specks of land – are almost entirely decided by how well we prepared for the encounter.

Our combat team’s made up of several colonizers and will grow in size as we keep playing. We start with six units but end up with more than 10. Squad customization is excellent. We can instruct them to split up or wave them around as a single punch.  Movement stance and rules of engagement are also left to us.

A Pleasing Strategy

Aesthetically speaking, Tempest Citadel pleases without leaving the player in awe. UI and backgrounds – all carefully drawn by hand – lack that something that’d make them memorable. The same could be siad for the 3D-Graphics, which are only used for the RTS sections. The models aren’t top notch, but the detailed textures gladly pick up the slack.

Still, credit should be given when it’s due. All of the characters’ portraits, be it randomly generated or belonging to a major character, always look believable and contribute the degree of realism this game can muster.

The soundtrack, which will accompany the player throughout the whole journey, plays as if it were straight out of a fantasy movie. There’s no abundance of tracks but their instruments and melodies, as well as the game’s sound effects, enrich the whole experience,

Hot or Not?

As a whole, Tempest Citadel is a complete experience. It shows how much effort the development team put into their project. The whole management part might feel a bit confusing at first but it won’t slow you down. There’s no risk to get bored either. The pace’s set by the difference between preparation and battle and you will feel satisfied once you achieve a well-planned victory.

Today, after four years of development. Tempest Citadel hits the shelves of the Steam Store. All I can wish for Aartform Games is good luck, hoping they’ll soon be back with a series.