The one Facebook notification I hate the most is a Farmville request. You could not make me hate you more if you asked me for a cow, or a tractor. But then again, I usually just ignore such requests. The reason I hate it is because it’s merely a clone of another long line of soulless lackluster city-building simulations that has somehow achieved some degree of popularity.
It was merely a fad, but somehow, it just won’t die. That sort of ruined the genre for me. Sure, I’ve played Simcity and Empires and Allies for the heck of it, by I promised myself that I would no longer touch another city-building simulator as long as lived. But then, Asterix and Friends happened.
Asterix and Friends is a browser-based city-builder based on an old comic French series. I used to read them as a child. It was like Viking Popeye. The game itself is as colorful and comical as its source material. The story is that you start out as a new character named Pointandclix (10 points to whoever thought of this), an indomitable Gaul warrior, responsible for rebuilding one of the villages ruined by the Roman invasion.
As following aspects of the game genre goes, players manage the restoration of the village by constructing buildings, collecting resources, raising your defenses against invading attacks, and head-on attacking lurking Roman soldiers nearby.
It’s all about defending and developing the fort. The game is very much faithful to the Asterix & Obelix franchise in both style and graphics, and throughout your adventure, much to the enjoyment of fans of the series, you will encounter a lot of famous faces from the cartoons and comics that will both help and hinder you in your journey.
Staying true to its roots
One of the things Asterix and Friends has over other city builders is that it actually sticks to the story it’s written with, and though shallow as it may be, it heavily emphasizes on the little things that you progress with to further the plot of the game, giving the experience a bit more depth than any old farm builder.
As mentioned earlier, a Roman invasion has laid waste on your starting village, and, as such, you start out with a village covered in debris. These debris becomes your initial farming point for resources, such as wood, stones, and straw. You have a handful of villagers with you that will guide the player on the what-do’s and know-how’s of the game, and further improving your village will help you gain more villagers to help you out.
What makes them even more awesome (besides the fact that they’re actual characters in the comic series) is that they aren’t just boring, old NPCs that only ask you to do quests for them. They’re also recruitable warriors for battles. Just as any old working Viking man contributes to a village. Roman soldiers are still around your village, and fighting them off is your method of expanding your territory.
What makes it shine
What makes this game stand out (as well as what makes it a bit infuriating) is that right down to it, it’s still a resource management game. How does that make it different, you ask? Well, if you want to survive and make the most of your game, you’ll need to learn how to ration your goods strategically. The energy for your action cost is the food you gather and store.
Though thankfully, all your actions will always cost one unit of food a pop, managing them is hard to get by.
Most of your actions cost you food, and there are a bajillion things to do in this game. You are constantly hunting, farming, building and fighting off soldiers, and you just start out with a measly 20-30 food limit. Sure, eventually things get easier the further down the line you go, when you’ve finally built more food farms and increased your storage, and you can always fish and hunt (and occasionally) mine for food, and you are constantly compensated with some food at each level up, but when you’re at your first twenty levels, it’s quite the struggle.
It doesn’t help that you’re constantly hassled by invasions. But we’ll get on to that later. Resource farming is also a struggle as not only are your actions limited by your food reserves, storage also starts out low, and you are constantly asked to process and reprocess your base resources for other things, such as weapons and building materials, so you have to somehow keep farming.
It’s not like most other city builders wherein your first few levels allow you to stock some safe amount of resources to take on a more challenging future in the game. Asterix and Friends, as the plot goes, really jumps you into the thick of things and you’re the one trying catch up. It really feels like working on a restoration project, and it wasn’t just some façade to go along with that plot.
Normal battles, at a glance, are easy. You select an invading Roman patrol, their cumulative strength is displayed, and all you have to do is disperse a number of villagers whose combined strength topples the other. Whoever deals the most damage wins, so it’s always good to train and boost your villagers’ strengths. Sounds easy, right? Hold up, here’s the catch. Winning one battle may be easy, but you’ll soon realize that there are a lot of soldiers out there, and your villagers actually get damaged.
It doesn’t matter if your win rate from the previous battles is declared to be 100%, because your villagers still will get tired, and their strength will diminish and will need some time to recover. You may supplement their strength with weapons and equipment, but it’s not entirely enough knowing that you can’t beat every single Roman troop out there in one fell swoop. It takes time and planning, as the Romans respawn after some time as well. I was surprised that I was even ambushed one time while farming in the woods.
Village battles are a little more forgiving as they’re merely fought for points and rewards and not actual health points, so friendly people can brawl to their heart’s content, like Vikings do. The only difference is that the strengths aren’t displayed so it really takes a gamble or two in these situations.
All in all, Asterix and Friends is a really good game of its genre. It’s simply point and click, all while managing your resources and your village. Though I did say that the difficulty curve is a little steep at the beginning, that in itself is its appeal as it challenges players, and it fits so well with the base Asterix franchise. It’s completely free to play too so that’s another plus.
I can just rack up all the points Asterix and friends has, but if it comes right down to it. The game is definitely a better city-builder that’s accessible that even if you’re not a fan of the Asterix comic series. I highly recommend the game even at the expense of you possibly losing friends because you’ll pester them with Asterix and Friends requests. It’s that good.Related: Asterix and Friends