Recently, Sega has been doing a bang-up job bringing out some of the most interesting historical strategy/simulation games on the market. Samurai Bloodshow and Total War Battles sent players deep into Japan’s past as you took control of an army to fend off attacking enemy forces. Now with Alexandria Bloodshow, a spiritual sequel to Samurai Bloodshow, Sega wants to take us into ancient Egypt and Greece as the two giants battle each other for supremacy. Unfortunately, If you’ve played Samurai Bloodshow, then you won’t find a whole lot to surprise you, as the mechanics and the game itself are virtually the same.
In the free version of the game, you take control of a pharaoh trying to fend off the invading Greek armies. You can play as both the Greeks and Egyptians if you unlock the full version via in-app purchase. Either way, you have to deploy and control your numerous types of troops to stop the enemy hordes from breaking through and reaching your leader. If you fail as the Egyptians, then your commander gets his feet strapped to a chariot and dragged in front of a laughing enemy army. Succeed, and you make the god Horus happy. This is a guy you want to keep happy.
This is what happens when worlds collide.
So just like Samurai Bloodshow, your troops defend and enemies attack on a battlefield segmented by rows. Before every battle you have to make your ‘deck.’ In this deck you choose which units and how many of each you wish to bring into the next battle. When the battle starts, the order of the troops you have available to you during the actual battle are randomly determined, but as you deplete your troops you can spend gold to deal out more cards as the battle rages on. You drag your troops, or cards, onto the battlefield, ready and willing to die in the defense of their king.
Similar cards can also be dragged onto one another in order to level up your units. Every unit, ranging from slaves to archers to harpists, has different capabilities, strengths and weaknesses, ways they move and so on. Your leader can also cast spells, called techniques, which can sometimes heal your troops, damage the enemy, or enhance your units abilities. Since you have a limited number of cards and even more limited number of each kind of unit, it takes a large amount of strategy, and some luck, to win in battle. The game is tough, even from the beginning, so don’t let the pretty pictures and ease of gameplay lull you into a false sense of security.
Don’t get blood on the tapestry!
And speaking of those pretty pictures, one area where Alexandria Bloodshow really excels is in its presentation. Every screen, every unit, and every animation looks like it’s a hieroglyph painting come to life. Troops move in a staccato, puppet-like fashion, which may seem odd at first, but when animated on top of the beautifully illustrated battlefields, you completely buy into the illusion. The game is also gleefully gory: heads get decapitated, limbs get severed and blood spurts in such copious amounts that you’d think Quentin Tarantino is directing a historical epic. Sound effects are equally adept at helping to immerse you in this wonderful piece of gaming art.
If Samurai Bloodshow had never happened, than Alexandria Bloodshow would be a revelation. The gameplay isn’t anything that hasn’t been done before, but the way it presents itself is amazing and it’s challenging and fun enough to give even the most advanced strategy player a run for their money. But alas, Samurai Bloodshow has happened and since the gameplay is identical in almost every way it takes a little bit of the luster off of its Egyptian sequel. All that being said, the game is a blast to play and and even more fun to just look at.