Leviathan-warships

Leviathan: Warships had a fantastic trailer just before release, that alone drew my attention to what was a long cherished memory of a very old indie game, made for the Amiga. The game is turn based with real time action sequencing, this means you give your ships orders while paused and then you watch them carry those orders out in real-time, after a few seconds of action the game freezes again and you can issue more orders. Anyways, below are my thoughts on the game.

Leviathan is a strange mix of pretty and cumbersome, the menu and log in system is rather awkward looking, you use the multiplayer menu system to create single player games and as a result, much of the mission structure for the single player experience is quite sterile. You can continue a campaign from your last completed mission and even continue from your last turn within a current mission, this is a helpful feature given one of the missions consistently crashed for me every few turns.

Ultimately you can see from the games design that the single player was never really much of a focus for the game, it feels lacking in depth. It’s essentially a game for multiplayer battles, either coop or competitive. As a result most of the depth is in building your fleets and seeing just how nonsensical and exploitative you can be with your ships design. Realizing the default designs simply make no sense in a video game world, you will quickly want to move all your guns on a ship to either the nose or one side so you can front load all your firepower and focus fire on a target.

The “gamey” nature of the ship design feels disapointing, most battles result in you simply pointing your armed side at the enemy and then unloading on them until one of you dies. If you’re struggling in one of the missions it’s probably because your ships are designed to be offensive on too many fronts. I actually managed to complete the first 8 of 9 missions in the single player campaign, purely with the cheap cruisers, by equipping each one with guns on the prow.

It’s a shame the game doesn’t model directional armour, if you had to worry about which side/section of your ship has armour, that would add a layer of strategy to positioning and make the combat and ship design more tactical. Instead you have a single health bar with some randomized internal damage of your ships components. You do however get a shield, which you can point to one of four directions which is useful for soaking up some damage every few turns. Careful timing when deploying a shield is satisfying, especially when it absorbs an enemy broadside which could sink your ship.

As you complete missions you never really get any sense of achievement, because the campaign is so lacking in features you simply move on with a window of text to forward the minor attempt at a story. There are nine missions in total, and you eventually unlock some alternative vessels and weapons to customize your fleet. The ships and their equipment are quite pricey and you will struggle to use the new content when you unlock it, without stripping much of your existing fleet. Slowly your fleet points capacity rises, although given the amount of enemies you face, it always forces you to go for the most optimum builds to be effective.

Visually the game is attractive, the top down view works well and the ships and terrain you see within the maps have enough variety and points of interest to keep you entertained. The maps are well dimensioned too, ensuring you never spend too long looking for a fight. Once you learn to time your fleets movement and position to avoid collisions, blocking fields of fire and bringing all your guns to bear on an enemy, it becomes quite pleasing to play.

If you take part in the multiplayer the game has more long term value, although I’m uncertain if there will be enough participants to sustain that aspect. For the price, Leviathan: Warships is worth a purchase, but if all you want is the single player content, I’m not sure you will be happy with what is available. It’s unclear if Paradox intend to add any more single player campaigns to the game, currently the only additional content are micro transaction multiplayer purchases. A quick look on the forums for the game suggest people in multiplayer don’t currently feel the micro transaction ships are balanced either.

I enjoyed Leviathan: Warships, although what it has to offer is representative of it’s price. This isn’t a triple A game and probably won’t entertain you for as long, however if you can find some friends to play online with, you’ll get your monies worth of fun.

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