Ah strategy; the great game of minds, planning ahead, preparing for every inevitability… How exhilarating!
So, Real Time Strategy (RTS) it’s a pretty damn old genre of gaming; I can remember watching some kid playing Age of Empire’s on the solitary computer at day care. I was so damn enthralled! That being said, why the fuck do all RTS games have to be some insane-ass Dark Souls-like challenge? You’ve always got some bullshit invisible clock over your head, and when it counts down, ready or not, the game’s going to kick you in the ass.
I’ve never been to good at RTS titles; I’m more a turn based fella myself – That being said, I love RTS games nonetheless; Red Alert 3 was one of my favourite PC games back in the early 2000’s, and I absolutely love, love, love Tooth and Tail.
However..! I’m fairly sure most video games are kinda required to have tutorials. They Are Billions, however, seems to have missed that memo, at least on console. On PC there’s a tutorial, but not on console, which is weird. It’s rather jarring to be honest; the game just straight up backhands you the instant you start, no hand holding at all, no nudges, no hints, nothing. I lost my first game literally seconds after starting because I had used up all my wood, and I couldn’t get more.
This is not the sort of game that should be played on console – The controller is not well suited to quick responses. In the span of three hours, I lost several times in a row, all because I didn’t know what to prioritise first, or what to build… And then there’s the difficulty settings; I’m getting my ass handed to me on fucking Easy! I dread to think how Nightmare mode is even feasible..! But, what exactly is, They Are Billions? Well, let’s backpedal…
They Are Billions is a solo, single player-only RTS, which alone is a ’the fuck?’ thing, cause RTS is usually player vs player… So, instead of fighting another player, you fight the oldest trope of horror. Zombies. As the title implies, there’s a lot of them – Even on standard difficulty, the small hordes can put The Walking Dead to shame. It plays like a standard RTS, you have a main base building you have to protect, you have to manage resources production, and build out defences and structures to make yourself stronger.
Whilst most RTS games maybe have like, 4 or 5 resources to manage; They Are Billions has 10, fucking 10! You have to manage money, wood, stone, iron, oil, workers, food, energy, and more! And nearly everything requires at least two of them if not more..! Trying to juggle everything, especially without a tutorial, is not a very good introduction to the game.
It’s not even that fun when you actually get into the game, past all its bullcrap lack of guidance. Whereas most RTS games have a focus on building up your super weapons till you can stomp the comp, They Are Billions has none of that. It’s not fun fighting the undead; they always show up at the worst times, and if you haven’t got a perimeter set up before they show up, it’s practically a game over. If so much as one zombie gets into your settlement, you’re fucked; all they need to do is infect one house, and that’s that, there’s no saving it. You’re basically expected to place huge gun turrets next to every damn house or farm just to be somewhat safe… And even then it won’t do much other than slow the horde down.
It’s also horribly balanced; in order to build most things your need workers, and each worker needs a home, so trying to have a compact, easily defended and fortified base is next to impossible. Workers need food, so you need farms; farms need grass, so if you in an area with no grass, you’re fucked from word one. You pretty much have to expand as much as possible, which near guarantees you won’t have every area fully fortified, and on higher difficulties, that’s a death sentence.
…And then of course the game has the fucking balls to grade you for what difficulty you’re playing on. What is this, Devil May Cry? Oh sorry They Are Billions, so sorry for not playing on the bullshit difficulty… So sure, go give me a 3% score for playing on super easy. I’m sure the game is more forgiving on PC, since PC has a fucking tutorial and more features as well. Least I’m fairly certain it does after a quick look see on YouTube.
Developed by Numantian and released in 2017, They Are Billions is a cold, abrasive and boring RTS game that takes at least an hour to figure out. It’s poorly balanced, a juggling contest that explains nothing and expects you to know what to do on day one. It’s not a fun at all. The fact that the console version of the game doesn’t have the PC version’s tutorial or campaign is just infuriating. I am honestly disappointed that I don’t like They Are Billions; maybe the PC version is better and more fulfilling… But for now, the console version is just not cutting it for me, and that’s upsetting.
They Are Billions may have billions of zombies, but from me, it gets a 5/10 and nothing more.