An exercise in tedium
Let’s face it: time management games are a dime a dozen, so it takes a lot for a game to stand out amongst its many peers. Unfortunately, Meridian: Age of Invention doesn’t invent anything new in the genre, and it stands out for all the wrong reasons.
Meridian: Age of Invention has a sloppy storyline that sees you repairing a city in shambles after the ruling party gives up hope. An inventor arrives in his trusty wagon, and he instructs you through dozens of levels as you repair roads and buildings, work in mines or quarries, trade goods with outsiders, deal with bandits, or even add plumbing to homes.
As is standard for a time management game, each level in Meridian: Age of Invention gives you a series of overall tasks to complete, and then challenges you to balance the use of resources like ore and gold in order to complete them. Unfortunately, there’s no action queuing here, so you’re left waiting for workers to complete one task before you can even click to start another.
Builders walk slowly and must be used in bulk to repair or build most structures, while couriers move more quickly and are used to collect taxes from homes, deliver letters and parcels between homes, or collect any raw resources that the builders themselves create. Additional workers cost money to hire, so you’ll constantly be sending your couriers to and fro around the map as trading posts assign new jobs to them in order to earn extra money. Unfortunately, there’s no rhyme or reason for when these jobs become available, and in levels that ask you to earn a specific amount of coins to move on or build a specific structure, you’re left literally doing nothing as you wait for jobs to appear at random.
While each level comes with a different layout and overall design, including different themes as you enter new areas of the map, the goals are mostly identical across each stage. When things do start to vary, they only become more tedious due to the fact that you must click twice on an item or project before ever really doing anything. The first click opens the menu for that particular item, while the second click actually sets an action into motion. This menu system is completely unnecessary, and it adds extra time to each level that you simply can’t afford to waste.
Levels are all timed, but the difficulty between each stage varies greatly. Some levels are incredibly easy to complete with the gold medal rating, while others will see you struggling to finish before the entire time limit runs out. If we could queue actions or unlock additional workers without spending so much money to hire them, this wouldn’t be a problem. As it stands though, you’re left waiting for long periods of time in some stages, before you have enough resources or available workers to do anything else.
All the while, Meridian: Age of Invention presents you with some of the most annoying music and sound effects that I’ve found in a time management game. The music is on a loop that repeats once every 10-15 seconds, while the building sound effects are on a 1-3 second loop that’s even more annoying still. I rarely find myself playing games that are completely muted, but within five minutes, I had turned all of the sound off just to keep my sanity through the rest of the experience.
This isn’t to say that the sound effects and soundtrack are the game’s only issues, as the aforementioned lack of action queuing and overall tedium in this experience are far worse. Meridian: Age of Invention is simply a sloppy game, with very little in the way of storyline or additional redeeming qualities to save it. If you must try this game, download a free trial before spending any money, as it’s more likely to disappoint than it is to please.