Rise of Olympia is a fast-paced casual strategy game with a great Greek theme

Slowly but surely, a sense of originality is creeping into Facebook gaming. A few years ago, a game like Rise of Olympia would’ve been nothing more than a Travian clone. Instead, Hoolai has made a game that takes the old Travian formula and radically simplifies it down into something more digestible and RPG-like. In Rise of Olympia, you ally with one of the three Greek gods vying for the throne of Olympus, build a city, and wage war against other players. There are also story missions that let your army battle NPC foes.

Which deity you ally with has a more far-reaching effect on your game than is typical for faction alignment in casual strategy games. You can choose to ally with Zeus, Poseidon, or Hades at the start of the game. Each deity gives a stat bonus, as you might expect, but also gives you a different themed map background and a special type of unit unique to that deity. Each custom map is full of unique animations, like underground waves and a giant swimming turtle for Poseidon’s map. Along with animated touches to the buildings you erect, this helps give the game a memorable look.

Rise of Olympia

The types of buildings you erect in Rise of Olympia are pretty similar to the basic building types you erect in Travian clones, but there’s fewer of them and the upgrade process is streamlined. You have your main administrative building for deploying your armies, a tavern for recruiting heroes to command your troops, and a barracks for training soldiers. All of this costs gold, but the game lets you begin with a vast stockpile of wealth and encourages you to manufacture tons of troops. You earn gold over time through taxes and can increase your earnings by seizing control of new territories.

This is the player-versus-player aspect of Rise of Olympia. To seize new territory, you equip a hero with the best equipment you can acquire or upgrade, give him a force of troops, and send him into the territory of another randomly-chosen player of the same level. To take over a player’s army, you need to be able to overpower the force that player has left to defend his or her city. You can use an item called the spyglass to get an idea of the opponent’s strength, but outcomes of fights are hard to predict unless your opponent’s hero is massively more powerful than yours.

Rise of Olympia

Story missions are basically the same as fights to seize territory, but involve battles against NPC forces instead. It’s the battles for expansion that really feel like the heart of Rise of Olympia, though, and are definitely the game’s most memorable feature. What’s nice is that Rise of Olympia lets you dive into this part of the game very soon after the game’s beginning, instead of forcing you to erect dozens of buildings first. Fans of casual strategy should definitely give Rise of Olympia a look, since it delivers the genre’s trademark game mechanic in a very quick and satisfying fashion.