Even emperors weren’t spared from the hearty in-app purchase

As the adage says, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Not surprising. Every empire is slow to build up the momentum necessary to become a world-dominating force. Unfortunately, Epic Empire: A Hero’s Quest won’t hold up your plans for conquest with strategy or army-building. Instead, the game’s energy system keeps you waiting for ages between fights. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but neither was it built with in-app purchases.

You begin Epic Empire as a wanderer driven out of his homeland by bandits. Tired of running, you resolve to turn around, stand your ground, and give those bandits what for. Gradually, and with the help of friends, you drive pack after pack of outlaws away from their ill-gotten turf. In the place of the wilderness and lawlessness, you place mines, businesses, and other civilized means of generating revenue.

Epic Empire: A Hero's Quest

Epic Empire is essentially a battle / building game. The world is shadowed by bandits and evil-doers, and you need to reclaim the darkness. First and foremost, you must fight. To instigate battle, you enter a hostile patch of land and engage the bad guys within. Victory is simply a matter of tapping on the enemy and hoping you deliver the fatal blow before they hack your life bar into nothingness. When everyone’s been driven out, the land is yours for the taking.

Winning fights in Epic Empire has little to do with skill. Numbers are key. When you go up against bandits, victory is only possible if your armor and weapons have been upgraded sufficiently. Upgrading is done by winning loot from fights and then “fusing” the pieces with your equipment. You can also evolve equipment if you find the sufficient ingredients and have coins to spare.

Coins are difficult to come by in Epic Empire. Nearly everything you do in the game, from upgrading equipment to attacking bandits, requires coins. Said fees are small at first, but not for long. Your mines and stores produce revenue, albeit slowly. Once you gain a few levels, you discover “playing” Epic Empire is actually a matter of waiting around for your buildings to generate the coins necessary for strengthening your equipment.

Epic Empire: A Hero's Quest

And oh, the waiting around you’ll do. Epic Empire utilizes an energy system, a wretched hold-over from the genesis of social gaming. Attacking a group of bandits takes energy. In fact, it takes a lot of energy, and you’re not allotted a bunch to begin with. If you want to recharge, it costs an insane number of starstones, which is the game’s premium currency. 

Games that combine world-building and battle can potentially be huge fun (major Actraiser fan over here), but only if the fighting and downtime are carefully balanced. Epic Empire is a blast when you’re allowed to go out and wreck enemies, but most of your time is spent staring at the screen and waiting for your coins and / or energy to pile back up. Better to let this Empire sink back into the shadowy foliage it came from.