Sometimes Paradox Interactive seems like the busiest publishing house in the world. After a fruitful 2020, we have their latest game, Empire of Sin, developed by Romero Games. The game puts you in the shoes of a gangster in America at the beginning of the 20th century and asks you to make a real mafia empire.
Who wants to be a mobster?
You start the game by choosing one of the several offered gangsters. Certainly the most recognizable is Alphonse “The Shadow“ Capone or Al Capone. In addition to him other characters are present, some of them real historical figures and others created by the developers for the game.
You and your gangster organization are fighting for control of Chicago, and the main goal of the game is to destroy other mafia organizations, usually by force. When you eliminate your opponents, you take over their jobs.
The city of Chicago is divided into districts and you will buy or hijack facilities and load them. On the menu are breweries, speakeasys, gambling houses and brothels. While all of this sounds nice and easy, you have to take into account three important factors: money, man power and alcohol. You only have to think about the money at the beginning of the game, but from the moment you take over the first district you will have no financial problems.
Man power is also an important factor as you lead it into confrontations with other criminal clans, while selling alcohol in your illegal taverns.
Through battles to new experiences
When you go with your team to take over an object, the fight turns into an isometric tactical affair that is very reminiscent of the X-COM games. Although, in my opinion, this is a good solution, the execution lacks some refinement and variety as after a while the battles start to get boring. It certainly doesn’t help that you are expected to do every battle manually without an auto-battle option.
Leading your main character and selected comrades into battle can be exciting and this is where the RPG aspect of the game shines. That aspect includes choosing the right equipment for the job and discovering new talents. You can also learn how to control the security of your pubs, brothels or casinos. This security is very important because it protects your secret empire and establishments from enemy attacks.
Running your empire isn’t much more fun. It all comes down to upgrading your business and it depends on the amount of money you have. No major decisions here – the path is linear in Empire of Sin. The only decision the game puts in front of you is what kind of alcohol you want to serve. It’s all solved in a single click.
Nice, but a lot of untapped potential
Empire of Sin seems very promising, but it feels like it was published ahead of time and before development was fully done. Whether Paradox Interactive, according to its good old custom, continues to improve the game by launching numerous DLCs remains to be seen. As it currently stands, Empire of Sin feels kind of bland while screaming of unused potential.
I am afraid of the day Paradox publishes a complete game without that feeling that features are missing just to be introduced by dozens of paid DLCs – if that were to happen the shock would be so overwhelming that nature would turn on itself and the laws of physics would just collapse wiping the whole of humankind in one cataclysmic event. I imagine an asteroid hitting Earth, but a super volcano would suffice.
Unfortunately, that’s the state of the industry in general at the moment (even CD Project Red, for whom I once had high hopes) and maybe we should simply feel lucky that their lazy, greedy politics keep the world safely going along.
The game has been released for Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4 Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Interesting setting and historical context
Fun RPG elements
You can expect many DLCs
No auto-battles can make some battles tedious
Start to feels incomplete and slightly bland after a while
You can expect many DLCs