Empire of Sin, published by Paradox Gaming is a strategy simulation game with turn based combat. You play as a 1920s gangster during the period of prohibition, competing with other gangsters for control over Chicago and running your various rackets. Rackets range from speakeasies to casinos and brothels and a few extra special buildings. The key resource that you need to ensure you have a steady production rate of is alcohol. You upgrade your breweries and the quality of alcohol to ensure a steady flow and good profits. As the game progresses and you get into the politics of it you can begin to make trade agreements, pacts or go to war with other mob bosses. You hire a team of various gangsters and when you engage in combat it plays out like a turn based XCOM-style battle.
The game allows you to build a badass crew of gangsters from a big roster of unique characters from a variety of classes and in a variety of tiers (differing in price and abilities). Each of the gangsters will have relations to others or can even develop them while you’re in a crew – for example they may fall in love with each other or if you kill one of their friends in a different crew they may refuse to work for you for a while. As you progress in the game your gangsters will unlock new skills, you will find new weapons to equip them with and their loyalty to you will improve.
Ultimately your aim is to take over Chicago by either killing all other major factions or finding ways to buy them out and establish control over all neighbourhoods.
Overall the game will set you back around £15 (or around £5 on sale) and while the theme and characters are quite cool, the game falls a bit short in terms of delivering on player experience. The combat gets repetitive extremely quickly, there’s little variety in the environments you fight in. The game makes you grind other mobster’s rackets and districts, slowly building up your empire but after a certain while you are just spamming upgrades on your rackets and fighting the same fight in the streets and enemy rackets. There are also various known bugs in the game which tarnish the experience even more.
Winning the game feels like an incredibly long grind, it would be nice to see more variety in environments and a bit more diversity in enemies and scenarios. The characters, their dynamics and their personalities are an interesting element of the game and could be built upon. There is DLC which adds an extra racket and new playable gangsters and weapons, but for £10+ it’s a considerable additional cost. Overall the concept, characters, art and theme are good but the repetitive gameplay and a buggy experience, I wouldn’t pay more than £5 and the game offers little replay value (it is free on PS Plus Extra at least).
- Use taxis to travel around the map
- Don’t rush into hiring too many gangsters, but at the same time their cost remains at the level it is when you first hire them (or goes down) so hiring higher tier gangsters early is better
- Don’t overextend – secure and upgrade neighbourhoods before adding more
- Focus on thug-run neighbourhoods – they are easy to take over and won’t affect standings with other mobsters
- If you kill a gang-leader their districts will all become thug owned, initially with 0 rackets – if you take over the thug depos you will get the district clean with all rackets immediately purchasable
- Remember to check the black market trader every so often
- Make sure your gangsters have health items equipped
- When on the streets try to ambush enemy guards to get an advantage
- Focus on your character’s bonuses and types of rackets that they scale from
- Try not to anger the police – don’t kill officers and don’t be afraid to bribe them