It is generally thought that a simple question, during a 1950 lunchtime conversation about UFO sightings, went on to spark a debate that is still going on today. The Man at the centre of this conversation was Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi. This question can be best summed up by simply asking yourself this: If the universe is so large, then where is everybody?
Well, Anomaly Games gives you the chance to find out for yourself.
The Game principles
The Fermi Paradox is a narrative strategy game, with you in the god-like role as the Galactic gardener. It will be your responsibility to guide civilizations from evolution through the millennia, aiming to get enough civilizations to reach the Singularity Age in order to achieve victory. You will guide them through many events, both good and bad. The decisions you make will leave you to deal with the consequences for centuries.
The galactic map view is where you will experience your first interaction with the game and one of its key mechanisms: flares. Every one of these white circles, or blossoms, represents an event within the respective planetary system.
These flares also generate 1 point of Synthesis. This will become your main ‘currency’ when you interact with each civilization. There is more to come on this later.
At the heart of everything is the most important commodity of the game: synthesis.
As you progress through the galactic map, you will be pulled into dealing directly with the development of your civilizations.
Multiple flares will appear to interact within a planetary system. Each one will affect that planet and civilization in a variety of ways – more on this later. It is worth noting that the moment an event appears, you will have to deal with that, so you will lose the option to interact with the current system that you are currently in.
As we discussed earlier, this can be earned within the galactic map and also from within the species’ events as they occur.
It is here that the Fermi Paradox excels. As events pop up and species grow, more and more difficult decisions are thrown up in front of you. There will be times that you will need to spend synthesis to push advancements in one civilization, while staving off an extinction event in another. Then, when you have little or no Synthesis left, the game will throw another major event like a resource crisis at you. Inevitably, with insufficient synthesis, you have no option but to allow the major event to happen. This can lead to anything from regression to a previous technical age, which will lead to the degradation of that society, to a huge loss of life or complete extinction.
Guiding your civilizations
There are 5 key values that will drive your civilization. You want to drive them forward, however it may go backwards, if you are not careful:
– Tech Level – This dictates the research or technological level you can operate within.
This is determined by what age your civilization is currently in. With the right choices, it is possible to advance a civilization very quickly.
– Population – This shows the size of the population. As well as the size, it is here that you will see if your civilization is growing or is in decline.
– Resources – Here you will see how many years of resource consumption you have left.
This will be the one area that you will quickly become familiar with. Resource crises and issues are one of the biggest issues that you will face, particularly in young civilizations.
– Harm Potential – This shows the threat and intensity of deadly conflicts. It’s here that you will be able to see how badly any potential conflict could affect your people.
– Ethics – Utopian vs Dystopian. This simply gives you a measure of the state of your society: Peaceful and Just vs Great Injustice and Suffering.
The first challenge you are going to face with any new civilization is an evolution event. It is here that the choice driven narrative basis of the game truly takes centre stage. The consequences of this decision can have far-reaching effects. The game gives you 3 options to choose from:
Balanced – This is where all the values above are given positive uplifts. Here, you will start with a lower population. This, however, will cost you upwards of 20 to 30 synthesis, dependent on the chosen species.
Standard – Nothing is changed, which therefore costs you 0 synthesis.
Unbalanced – This is the complete opposite of the balanced approach. It is a much harder way to start. However, you will be rewarded with the sum of 20+ synthesis.
With nearly all of these events, the choice mechanism can be broken down into 3 distinct types:
1 – Spend Synthesis to return positive results. This can be an expensive option. This option, however, could be the difference between life and death.
2 – This is the middle of the road option. It is normally free or has a small synthesis cost. While the results may not be wonderful, they are not as bad as the final choice.
3 – The bad or negative option. While you will be rewarded with synthesis, this will normally mean that you are either killing positive events and developments or killing entire civilizations.
This Synthesis balancing act is made all the harder by the fact that you can have multiple civilizations running at the same time. This can lead to various scenarios, such as one society being launched into space, destined for another planet occupied by a primitive species that is newly evolved. You have no control over the star systems. They target just the events as they unfold and they make their own way.
Not only do you have the competing needs of various civilizations, you can also see one civilization break up into a multitude of distant cousins. For example, from another game that I have previously played, we saw the Prun break into 4 separate entities: the home world, two colonised worlds and a fourth group wandering through the stars. Suddenly, you are left with effectively 4 civilisations developing at different rates and slowly becoming separate societies. Once again, without Synthesis in the bank, you may also miss the chance to make long range contact with each other.
Re-playability and Early access updates
No one game is the same. The galaxy map changes and you have no control over evolution events, so you are guaranteed a different experience every time. With early access stretching into 2022, the road map promises to add a whole load more content that will add even more re-playability to an already excellent game. Here is some of the extra content that will be available:
– At least 30 more species of alien;
– More Technology Levels – Go further than the Singularity Age and explore science fiction themes of Faster Than Light travel, Advanced Nanotechnology, Matter Replication and Technological Ascension;
– You will have access to more good and bad endings;
– Species specific evolution and development;
– Add more depth to the contact events with added interstellar contact and alien invasions;
– Give planets a chance to evolve a new species where one has failed previously with second chance evolution;
– Galactic dominance, where civilizations may try to build a Galactic empire. In Summary
In the infancy of its development cycle, The Fermi Paradox already provides you with a multi-faceted experience in a story-rich galaxy of your own creation. With elements of resource management; god game; strategy and adventure selection choice – all contained within a gorgeous 2D environment. This game will only improve further throughout the early access period.
Check out my playlist of Fermi Paradox Season 2 on YouTube
I am a typical gamer, & member of the Indie game collective, with years of experience trying to make the most of the limited time that work and family life presents me with. I mainly play Strategy and City Building games such as Foundation and Suzerian. I also like to try and cover/play indie games such as Ambition: A minuet in Power and Kainga: Seeds of Civilization. My Trouserman Tries series sees me try to cover less well-known indie, in the main strategy, simulation and RPG games.