Browser based empire!
Rarely do we cross the line into casual or social gaming, but 8 Realms is no ordinary browser based game.
8 Realms is a free to play browser based game that allows players to build an empire through eight different ages whilst interacting with other players on a large scale. The game is developed by Jagex, the same guys that brought us the free to play MMO; Runescape.
If building an empire and taking it through the ages sounds familiar, then it is probably because you have heard of Age of Empires, an RTS which recently joined the realm of free to play with a cutesy online edition that mixed the classic gameplay of an RTS, with a resource management system akin to the social game FarmVille. Whilst 8 Realms certainly captures the cutesy look, it forgoes skill based combat, instead favouring an easy to pick up resource management style with simulated combat.
Building an empire and progressing through the ages is the main goal of 8 Realms, as the title suggests there are eight ages to work through from ancient all the way to future. Progressing through the ages does take time, players must gather resources such as wood, food and stone to build buildings, research capabilities and train an army.
Progressing through the ages is a guided process with a task list that initially introduces players to the core empire building mechanics. As long as you keep completing tasks your empire will make strides forward and eventually enter a new age where a reset of sorts occurs. Building must be upgraded, new resources gathered and military forces disbanded in favour of a more advanced fighting force.
8 Realms is certainly not a game that will take all of your time or even compete with your usual gaming time. A task as simple as building a farm or upgrading a library can range from 30 minutes to 80 hours. Players are encouraged to login, set some tasks and then leave the game for a few hours. The game is HTML5 based so will work fine in Internet Explorer 9 and should avoid the port blocks that a lot of Facebook games currently face, making 8 Realms the perfect game to play at work during a lunch break.
8 Realms is a free game, but laying down cash is an option. Gems can be used to buy consumable items that will give your empire an edge or complete a task quicker. The amount of consumables on offer is staggering with some items to help your army in battle and others to make your construction projects complete quicker than usual. Gems can be gathered by completing some key tasks but obsessive players will turn to their wallets to gain further gems in a bid to boost progression.
If at first you do not wish to splash the cash then wait until you encounter a timed task. Placing a timer on some lengthy tasks can put the pressure on, pushing players towards a consumable purchase.
The game certainly looks the part, the cartoony isometric view is pleasing on the eyes, but don’t bother fiddling with your speakers, as in it’s current state 8 Realms contains no sound in any shape or from.
Whilst it certainly won’t take over our gaming time at home, 8 Realms is a guilty office pleasure that is completely free to play. We have only entered the Classical age so we have some way to go before reaching the future and beyond.