“Hell is other people.” Trapped together in a small room, the central characters of Jean-Paul Sartre’s novel “No Way Out” gradually understand that being watched, watched and watched by others is a special kind of nightmarish punishment. When writing about video games, you don’t often mention French philosophy or the pain of psychological pressure, but you do Solium Infernumnew strategic game, which takes place in Hell, where manipulation and treachery are far more dangerous than weapons. With influences including Doom, Civilization and Dark Souls, Solium Infernum pits you against human players (although single player is still available) as you compete for the throne of Hell – Lucifer has mysteriously disappeared and a new ruler of Hell must be chosen. It all started back in 2009.

“The original Solium Infernum was designed by the enigmatic Vic Davis of Cryptic Comet, League of Geeks co-founder and Solium Infernum’s (new) creative director, Ty Carey, explains. “This was an incredible achievement for a solo indie developer with no prior experience in the gaming industry who was experimenting in the ‘digital tabletop gaming’ space.” It was never released on Steam, only sold through Vic’s website. It was clunky in terms of looks and interface, but it had a hidden diamond in the rough.

“However, Solium Infernum really struck a chord with the core group, whose love of board games, indie strategy, and quirky infernal things seemed perfectly triangulated,” Carey continues. “It was an experience I really wanted to share with the world. So, I kind of…followed Vic for a bit, sending annual emails asking what happened to the license. When we had a team looking for the next job, we pounced.”

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Playing as one of eight Archfiends, each with their own exclusive units and abilities, there are multiple paths to becoming the hellish ruler of Hell. Open warfare is an option, but diplomacy, subterfuge, and political wrangling are Solium Infernum’s most powerful weapons.

In our original preview, we saw how an entire game could be changed in just eight turns – and without a single combat encounter. Think of yourself as Machiavelli, or to use a more modern reference, Littlefinger from Game of Thrones. Solium Infernum’s strongest players will remain in the shadows, pulling all the strings, and no one else notices.

“Solium Infernum is not focused on base building or straight-up conquest,” says Carey, “but more on bitter political rivalry and machinations, where information and secrets are actually very powerful, and uses diplomatic ‘moves’ to make opponents vulnerable. how to move forward

Welcome to Solium Infernum, the Dark Souls of Strategy Games

“The game allows you to get into the heads of your opponent, trying to outsmart them and outsmart them. This is because all players enter their orders at the same time, meaning you have to be able to anticipate your opponent’s plans. This is a serious mind game with high stakes. The question is, how mean can you get?”

If you capture the capital of hell, Pandemonium, and hold it for enough turns, you win. But there’s another, more complex system highlighted by Solium Infernum, where you can gradually earn the admiration of the bureaucratic Conclave and be anointed leader by being sneaky and manipulative.

Each player has a “Prestige” meter that reflects how much they are respected among Hell’s government elite. Raise it high enough by holding certain important areas of the map or scoring political points over rivals and Hell’s House of Representatives will elect you to Lucifer’s throne. However, get humiliated or fail to anticipate the devious plans of your opponents and your Prestige will take a serious hit.

Let’s say you’re competing against two other Archfiends. You can offer yourself as a vassal to one of them, effectively forming a pact and becoming part of their inner circle. In front of the Infernal Parliament, you can criticize or insult another player, forcing them to accept your humiliation and lose prestige, or respond to your disrespect by declaring war.

Welcome to Solium Infernum, the Dark Souls of Strategy Games

Provided they take the bait, you’ve successfully set the other two Archfiends against each other. While they spend their turns hacking, you build up your army and advance towards Pandemonium.

“The core of Solium Infernum has always been a diabolical, high-stakes psychological game that you played against your opponents,” Carey explains. “It’s something that a lot of games try to accommodate, but often don’t seem to understand the types of intrigue that can occur or how the social dynamics work. There are many board games that offer interesting social dynamics or mechanisms of scheming and bluffing, but strategy video games tend not to address these spaces.

“The original Solium Infernum was great at creating a social powder keg pressure cooker, and we wanted to reflect that and even find ways to emphasize that. From a social engineering perspective, success to us looks like people colluding in the background of their games, both inside and outside of them.

“It also lends itself to the setting of Hell,” Carey says. “Unlike the chaos of fire and brimstone, hell is really stuck in and moving through bureaucratic red tape. There is something compelling about airing your grievances before the Parliament of Hell, or deftly insulting your rivals before the Conclave. The most intense politics seem to be carried out on a knife-edge, waiting to erupt into violence.”

Welcome to Solium Infernum, the Dark Souls of Strategy Games

But of course, all-out war is still a possibility. Each Archfiend has a personal legion completely devoted to him. You can also purchase new units from the Solium Infernum Bazaar, essentially an auction house where each Archfiend bids for the allegiance of various demonic factions.

“There are a lot of infernal units out there,” Carey says, “with varying balance stats (some of them may be better at ranged than melee or sorcery, for example) and game-changing perks. They’re offered through the auction house somewhat randomly, so every game you’re going to see and deal with, very different legions.”

Solium Infernum also has a permanent “wrap card”. In keeping with the classic vision of Hell, where the rules of physics and reality no longer apply, the world of Solium Infernum is almost like a small sphere – if the enemy is gathering legions to your east, scroll far enough and the same legion will appear to be to your west. There is nowhere to put your back against the wall, there is no way to strengthen yourself in a single, impregnable position. Hell is other people. In Solium Infernum, your enemies are constantly surrounding you.

“Playing Solium Infernum is described as ‘losing yourself in the cold glory of a difficult decision,'” Carey says. “We call it The Strategy Game From Hell, or sometimes jokingly, Dark Souls Strategy, because it puts you in a very difficult and terrifying situation. The screws are really turning around you – we’re in hell after all.”

Welcome to Solium Infernum, the Dark Souls of Strategy Games

Although single-player is available, the essence of Solium Infernum is its slow-paced, asynchronous PvP. Each player can enter their turn and then exit the game and wait for their opponents. No one knows what the others are up to until the turn is over – log in, make your turn, then log in the next day to see what everyone else has done and decide how to react.

Similar to the long-term game of postal chess, while also allowing time-strapped players to enjoy sprawling strategy games, it reinforces Solium Infernum’s focus on planning, cunning, and political machinations.

“There aren’t many games that offer asynchronous long-term play as an experience,” Carey explains. “We coined the phrase ‘scheme in your sleep,’ which means that the game will stay with you after you close it—you’ll be thinking about your next moves and your opponent’s plans as you lie in bed at night.

“It also gives you the ability to do short queues regularly in the game, which is great if you don’t have time to play for hours, although you can still do that. You’ll be notified when your turn is ready, then you’ll log in and take your turn, which can only take a few minutes if you’ve planned ahead.”

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While there is no release date for Solium Infernum, a technical demo of the game will launch in 2023, which League of Geeks hopes will provide live feedback from potential players. You can participate through Solium Infernum Discord. League of Geeks also hosts regular dev magazines on Steam, where you can already contribute Solium Infernum to your wish list.

“There’s something special about Solium Infernum that you risk undoing when you take it apart and put it back together, even with the best of intentions,” Carey says. “We’re looking for the most obvious forms of friction, confusion, or complexity, and looking for a more fluid method – looking through the lens of modern design, using the extra decade of game theory that’s passed since the original Solium.

“The new Solium Infernum will have its own unique feel. It will be different, but that’s okay. And not knowing exactly what that feeling will be is actually exciting.”

If you’re looking forward to Solium Infernum, check out some of the other greats in the meantime Games 4X. You can also try something fantastic RTS gamesmaybe the best grand strategy games on a PC.