The Tone Rebellion is a great sequel to Ascendancy, an innovative space strategy game that was unfortunately too riddled with bugs in the first release to attract many gamers. Although it doesn't ship with any major bug, The Tone Rebellion is still plagued with the same weaknesses as its predecessor, most notably the very weak AI that does a lot of stupid things. Nonetheless, the game's very unique premise and several innovations help set it apart from other 4X games, and qualify it for our Top Dog award. |
Simply put, Tone Rebellion is a pseudo-3D real-time strategy game with some RPG and puzzle-solving elements thrown in. Similar to Alien Legacy and Maelstrom, there is a plot that runs throughout the game and unfolds as you progress. You are leader of the Floaters, jellyfish-like aliens who must compete for "Tone", the life energy of the Floater world, against another race called the Leviathans.
Similar to other 4X games, The Tone Rebellion offers different races (called "clans" in the game) for you to control. Each clan differs from the others in its abilities, the structures it can build, and the type of spells it can cast. There four clans are unique enough that replaying the game as a different one is worthwhile. The game progresses in the usual fashion: build cities, explore the terrain, and be prepared to fight the enemies. What makes The Tone Rebellion unique is the different spells you can research and cast (similar to technologies in other games), as well as a nice mix of RPG and puzzle-solving elements. For example, your task is not limited only to rebuilding the Floaters' civilization, but also to solving the mystery of the Leviathans and unlock the keys to their defeat. Starting off virtually defenseless, you must use the little remaining Tone to build structures and reacquire lost abilities.
The game is split into levels, i.e. fifteen island worlds to discover and explore. Putting stronger emphasis on puzzle-solving, each world contains specific mysteries that must be solved in order to bridge the gap to new islands or find out how the land has come to its current state. As you discover new islands and build more structures and defenses, the Leviathans become more aware of the rebellion, and send more and stronger armies in an attempt to defeat you. Battles take place in real-time, and are quite fun to watch with many strange-looking units that look more creative than StarCraft. The interface has been improved to make it more accessible to first-time players. Although a complete single-player game, it also offers multiplayer support for up to four players over the Internet or via IPX network connection.
With all its strengths and its unique character, The Tone Rebellion is still best considered a "light" game. The AI, although stronger than the one in Ascendancy, is still not very bright. If you are a die-hard MOO fan who craves an equal challenge, play Space Empire IV instead. If, on the other hand, you enjoy story-based space games that are not too tough to beat, The Tone Rebellion is well worth your time. Thumbs up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs