They Are Billions – Review
Follow Genre: RTS, Base defense
Developer: Numantian Games, Blitworks
Publisher: Numantian Games
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Tested on: PC, PS4

They Are Billions – Review

Site Score
8.7
Good: Intense RTS with mixed gameplay and nice graphics
Bad: Can feel a bit ''unfair'' at times
User Score
10.0
(4 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (4 votes cast)

They Are Billions is a game that originally got released in Early Acces mode in December 2017, which is a long time ago. Received with positive feedback and a quickly increasing player base, the game took its time to add some content and fix bugs, after which it decided to add a complete new Campaign mode for the full release as well. This release we saw in June this year. So, reasons enough to check out what They Are Billions did, what’s good, and what’s not. 

Story

Under the leadership of Quintus Crane, in the year 2260, it’s decided to make a giant effort to take back the infected world of They Are Billions from the undead. You are playing as the new general, who is laughed at and wished luck since his 10 or 12 previous predecessors have all brutally died or went insane. Nevertheless, you are given a chance (since it seems like nobody else is crazy enough?) and you choose a hero out of a male and a female option that’s going to represent you in spirit and a few missions as well. As you continue the game, you will find some articles every now and then that hand out more of the background story, filling in the gaps as you go. Besides that, the start of the campaign has an opening cinematic and perhaps the ending has as well.

Graphics

Graphically, They Are Billions separates itself from a lot of other games by covering every model in a ”colored drawing” skin. That, and it presents you with a Steampunk type of fashion where the idea is that people used their inventive skills combined with whatever technology was left from the old world before the giant outbreak. A lot in the game, such as animations and the static content alike, is smooth and filled with beautiful details, and it can be worth it to zoom in and out every now and then to check the details as well as the awe of the giant picture and the living city that you’ve been building up from nothing. There’s really not anything negative to be said about this part of the game.

Sound

The music in the menu and campaign level control is bombastic, in your face. A lot of sounds in the soundtrack itself are referring to the industry of steel and factories that you are actually building yourself. It’s cinematic and presented as something big at the same time. In the game itself, the music is lowered to atmospheric levels, where it’s comparable to fantasy movies with its orchestral guidance through an experience. When looking at sound effects, mainly the voice acting and the attacking sounds stand out as ”fine”, but factories and such don’t really make noise unless you click on them as a confirmation that you selected something.

Gameplay

They Are Billions is a combination of base building, wave defense, and real-time strategy. Practically, this means that as soon as you start, you will start building your base and defend it at the same time. As time passes, the game increases its difficulty by adding hordes of zombies that are heading your way, at which point you will have to defend your creations each time. At the moment you fail to defend your dwellings inside the defensive perimeter, and the undead reaches your buildings such as tents where colonists live, you basically already lost the game and have to start over again. This because a single zombie can create three or four others by attacking your buildings, and it will quickly spread just like a fantasy infection of a zombie-virus would according to every movie ever. So it’s crucial to keep the map in check and your defenses up at all sides. Be sure to make an effort to train troops and send those beyond the defenses to provide yourself with more breathing room and loot that you can find in the wilderness.

Now, the Skirmish mode, that players have been playing since the release in 2017, gives you a whole load of options to do and build as you struggle towards figuring out what to do best. Automated defenses, troops, upgrades, and resources to farm for example. It’s up to you to find the perfect balance. Luckily, the new campaign mode gives you much more of a reasonable approach. Maybe even too reasonable. For the Campaign mode, They Are Billions took all the building blocks they used for the Skirmish mode and rearranged them into something that gradually builds up towards you knowing exactly how to play. This makes the Campaign a separate mode on one hand, and a giant tutorial on the other. Especially early on, this can translate to a somewhat boring experience. But if you want, you can always play on a harder difficulty of your own choosing. This is important because the game can feel unfair by minor flaws such as your troops their pathfinding, and it doesn’t let you save your game yourself. When things go wrong, because reasons such as a too high difficulty, you can count on having to start over again.

What the campaign does good is that it gives you a sense of choice. As you start off as the new general who is expected to reconquer the land from the horde, you get about three different campaign levels that you can complete in any order you want. These campaign levels are presented on different maps, and the biggest difference with the Skirmish mode is that you are presented with one or two single goals that you would do in Skirmish anyway. Goals such as raising the population of your base till a certain number, or defeating infected towns full of zombies. Other levels give you a different type of gameplay such as defending a single point, with points you earned and spend on defenses and troops. Or where you go on an ”adventure” with your chosen hero to clear a building in the hopes of finding hidden technology. No matter which mission you complete, each mission gives you the points to recruit defenses and troops in the wave defense levels and research points you can use to unlock upgrades and buildings that you got to know by playing the Skirmish mode. This way, there’s some choice in deciding what makes you stronger.

We were fortunate enough to be able to try the game on PC as well as console (PS4), and it’s always a bit of a question if a complicated game, especially an RTS type, works on consoles just as well. We can easily say that the PlayStation 4 control scheme is well adapted to console play and it works rather smooth. You’ll also get the same mode of controlling the game like on PC, which sometimes makes it harder to do precision clicks. That being said, it’s clear that this way of controlling They Are Billions has been properly tested, especially considering the special button shortcuts.

Conclusion

They Are Billions can be challenging, and even feel unfair at times. But what it lays down in front of you, especially combined with the new Campaign, is pretty damned amazing. Especially for the price of a mere 25 Euros/27 Dollars/21,59 Pounds, it’s one of the better indie RTS games you can get that is guaranteed to deliver on excitement and hours of gameplay. A slightly bigger amount of Skirmish content, a tiny bit of polish in the programming, or perhaps a co-op mode would be a nice addition, but the game stands strong as it is right now.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (4 votes cast)
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They Are Billions - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
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Find me on youtube to see some playthroughs! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuBrlulGywcb0EiYWBnA1ng

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