We came, we saw, we conquered. Thousands of years in the future, mankind has dominion over all species in the universe, ruled by a militaristic religion founded on the Savior, whose martyrdom 3000 years before saved humanity and established the empire that now spans the known universe.
Genesis Rising is publisher DreamCatcher’s newest, a real time strategy game set in space. DreamCatcher is known mostly for point-and-click adventures like Syberia, so we expected a lush, beautiful setting utilizing the newest graphics and meticulous designs. What we didn’t expect was sweeping saga, grand space-opera battles and an engrossing, continuously surprising world.
Real time strategy games tend to be fairly direct in their objectives: find place X, gather resources, make armies, invade, move on, and try not to go broke in the process. Genesis Rising adds to these elements with "organid" ships, living vessels we can create from our mothership and then mutate with a variety of different genetic material. Genetic material comes from sucking the blood from ships we destroy or stumble across. Ships morph in front of our eyes as we fiddle in the mutation lab, adding different weapons and functions in real time to adjust our fleet to the needs of the next encounter.
Of course, the objective of the game is not merely to roam around looking for ships to drain dry. We set out to find the Universal Heart, a mysterious object that the rulers of mankind think will elevate humanity to the status of Godhood. Along the way we ran into neutral factions we could bribe, trade and make alliances with (the universal currency? Blood. So cool!).
And being that there's also the organized rebellion against mankind, the Defiance, there were choices to make as to which faction we wanted to support, including nefarious societies within humanity, such as the Inquisition. Without derailing into tons of detail, they're bad. Real bad.
Though there is faster-than-light space-truckin' to get from one far flung corner to another, when traveling within a sector, the fleet was very slow. Eventually we got speed boost genes, but even with those, moving through the maps seemed to take eons.
Also, the ability to control single ships in battle was a little clunky. The process of finding the right ship, finding the right button, and then finding the enemy ship we wanted to target in the first place was a delay that often proved deadly. Eventually we had to resign ourselves to dying at least once in each new encounter in order to learn the timing and needs of the individual fight.
Genesis Rising also has a co-op feature, where two people can control the same fleet as they fight across the Universe, and a multi-player online function which allows up to twelve players to fight for dominance. The multi-player function requires a GameTap account in order to log on, though.
Genesis Rising, with its intriguing twist on the RTS genre, dares you to choose a side, and be counted.