Reviews

Dune: Spice Wars Review

Let’s set the scene: a wicked sandstorm blocks the journey, your military is starving and losing supplies, and a sandworm just been spotted in your area. You have two options, to continue pushing ahead towards the final goal that you have, and risk losing everything, or retreat for now, and hope that your enemy doesn’t win through forms of diplomacy. The sound of synthesizers buzzes inside your ear, telling you that the time to help make your final act is now, and you may make or break what is happening during the last five hours of your life.

You decide to push forward, and just as you’re about to make it through, you see that half of your military continues to be claimed by the wicked Sandworm, and now, you’re stuck watching one last moment to thrive fall before your face. “Was there anything I could have done differently”, you might ask, while you boot up another round of Dune: Spice Wars. You pick a different faction, with a different mindset, and venture forth in to the world of Arrakis once more to take ownership of the land.

Based on the world created by Frank Herbert in the year 1965, the effects of Dune were felt quickly, changing the world of Sci-fi once we once knew it. Delivered to the large screen in 1984 through the one and only David Lynch, the world got to visit a little deeper into his mind. While there may 't be any Cat/Rat Hybrid creatures in Dune: Spice Wars, the recognition of the 2022 Reboot brought Dune into the hearts and minds of numerous new fans.

Is Spice Wars something you can jump into without any prior knowledge of the series, and will it do enough to help keep fans from the Real-Time Strategy and 4X Genre happy? Let’s dive into the details of what makes this a must-play, not only for fans but for those people who are new to Dune in general.

Many Dangers Exist On Arrakis

As you make the right path in to the realm of Arrakis for the first time, you’ll need to choose where your morals and laurels lie. Will they lie with the noble House Atreides, the vicious and cruel House Harkonnen, the sly and cunning Smugglers, or even the Arrakis-born Fremen? While there is little change story told, you’ll feel the results of how a world moves who are around you through panels of dialog thrown at the from your opponents. If you are helpful, and willing to help, you’ll receive the praise that you need to help push you towards a diplomatic victory. However, if you're merciless, prepare to become threatened, scorned, or worse by those that once trusted you.

You’ll have a lot of things in your plate, but the weight of knowing that you're possibly likely to betray, or perhaps be betrayed by a friend is something which hits hard and effectively. You may notice that an opposing faction is doing everything they are able to to get on your advantages, simply to strike to you when you are the least suspecting from it. There are ways for this, there are methods that you can get it well for what they've done, and this is one of the best parts about Dune: Spice Wars.

You’ll be able to not only fight with blades, chemical weapons, and machinery, but through the power of the mind, and votes. You are able to sabotage with spies, sending undercover agents into an opposing Factions life to find out more information, and put you ahead within the standings. Place bounties in your foes, and do your very best to help others to complete exactly the same. Or, you might get tied to some misfortune of your own, as your opponents are as smart and cunning while you think that you are.

All of these factors place you in the middle of many wars, not just fought by husband and wife but through mind and soul. You’ll have the results of every battle, and you’ll benefit from the victory, or feel the defeat. Just like a number of other 4X titles, you’ll need to be on your toes, and treat your friends and foes as if those are the same. You never know when you’ll be around the receiving end of the vicious strike.

The Sleeper Has Awakened

While going through the lands, you’ll need to be paying attention to more than just your foot soldiers. You’ll need to micromanage many different aspects of this game, from the water supply that your base currently has, to the buildings that you're overtaking villages for. You're in control of not only yourself, however your whole people, which is actually a mighty large task indeed. Will you use the other factions to setup proper trading, allowing treaties which means you don’t lose supplies in their area to help them overtake another Faction? The options are yours, and yours alone.

Screenshots don't do this game proper justice. The unique art style shines while showcasing the world of Arrakis, and those who live within it. Animations are fluid, bringing the Faction Leaders alive in glorious splendor, with the grotesque figure of Vladimir Harkonnen providing you with menacing glares, winds that blow gently over the land, visual cues as to when you could find yourself losing your troops because of Sandworms, and a whole lot. The world that Frank Herbert wrote about a lot of years ago is brought to life in loving detail, and helpful visual clues will make sure that you're not as lost as you could be with everything happening.

The sounds and sights are only overshadowed by one thing, and that is the score this game brings along with it. Stating that the soundtrack in this game is excellent is underselling it, as the haunting synth soundtrack elevates this game one step further. While you examine the plains, searching for the following place to strike, the eerie buzz of the electronic soundtrack swells in your ears, bringing a brand new feeling of purpose for your quest. While simple, this does a stellar job of keeping you engaged through matches that can take upwards of 5 hours to complete.

The Spice Extends Life

As you learn the particulars of the way the game functions, you’ll slowly start to develop a rhythm for yourself, and find out why is this game as special because it is. Finding new lands to overtake, finding new ways to enhance your military power, can not survive while you be careful about your resources slowly begin to get into a deficit after a catastrophic loss, as well as your rise from the ashes to consider back what's rightfully yours.

If you put yourself in to the shoes of your faction leader, this game assumes another form. While it is a 4X game with Real-Time Strategy elements, experiencing some role-playing can help push this into a new class of its very own. You can try to overthrow the other Factions with brute strength, cozy up to the Government to obtain more votes and send spies that will help you learn new intel regarding your opponents, the list is nearly endless.

And this is what makes Dune: Spice Wars a great title because you’ll have the effects of everything that is going on who are around you. If you are focusing on ravaging the lands without caring for your people, you’ll end up in a lock, where you cannot still expand if you don't start to help your people. You’ll have to build buildings, harvest the wind to make water, find Spice on the planets and harvest it, and much more. You have to live this game not just for that idea of conquest but for the ideas of your people.

You can take part in votes to throw a wrench in the plans of your opposing Factions, but if you haven’t built a good reputation with anyone, they can all gang up on you and hit you with some devastating results. You’ll need to ensure you've enough Spice to pay the Imperial Bribes for them to turn a watch towards the things you’ve been doing, establishing Treaties and Trades with your opponents to achieve the trust of some, and the ire of others.

It’s enough to make your face spin, however the game does a fantastic job of making sure that while it might be overwhelming, you can manage everything. You’ll be prompted with plenty of time before a vote is going to be happening, you’ll have time to get out of the clear way of the Sandworms, you’ll have time to try to stop your villages from being raided. Pressure continues to be on, no matter what, however, you can manage it all after learning its systems.

Its tutorial sections really are a little lacking, however with the game being in Early Access, there's sufficient time to correct this. You’ll be given the job of Setting up a Harvester after you have found your first Spice, but exactly how is the next step that? You only have your house base at the start, and you’ll have to explore the worlds and figure it out. It’s nice, in this way, as it makes you feel like you're being thrust into the middle of these Spice Wars without knowing all of the details, much like a real war. But, after exploring and learning, you’ll be commanding Arrakis very quickly.

Verdict

Dune: Spice Wars has something that can attract everyone. The adjustable difficulty, map size, and which factions you intend to wage war upon are great for the ones that are new to the genre, and wish to obtain feet wet for the first time. Or, if you are a veteran, you’ll find all of the challenges that you could request and much more. With a haunting soundtrack, great sound clips, a great visual style that stands out from the crowd, and the plethora of options that you’ll be able to decide to try achieve victory, you’ll find yourself excited to try to take command from the Spice, even after suffering a crushing loss. Dune: Spice Wars is really a truly great use of its license and since it's in Early Access, it has lots of space to expand. But as it stands, you’ll locate an excellent game that is worth your time and effort that can only still get better from here.

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