Every now and then, I come across a game that I didn't enjoy, yet I'm pretty certain that others do. Such is the case with Codex of Victory. A hybrid RTS/Turn-Based affair, you will find yourself happily expanding your base and building units in real-time, and then shift gears to fight battles on a hex-grid in turn-based mode. This is an absolutely fantastic merging of two genres, and works quite well. Unfortunately, there were several aspects of the game that prevented me from enjoying it. However, as I mentioned earlier (and it's worth mentioning again), most of the reviews on the App Store and on Steam are positive so take my criticisms with a grain or two of salt.
First of all, Codex on mobile consists solely of one single-player campaign (there is, however, very limited multiplayer on desktop systems). There are no skirmish maps or map making tools, nor is there a random map generator. What you get is one campaign that should take anywhere from 12-20 hours to complete, and once you're done, you're done. While the game description touts that some of the levels are randomly generated, they all seemed pretty similar, and in fact were the most repetitive levels in the game. While most people absolutely live or die by a heavily scripted campaign with a rich story, I, on the other hand, never play campaigns. I find them to be less strategic and more puzzley, as you repeatedly bash your head against each level trying to figure out the single way in which the designers intend for you to win. I am also deeply suspicious that many developers use up-front design and scripting to set up ambushes and load the enemy up with extra and/or more powerful units to compensate for a less than adequate AI. What I want is a fair fight on a big map with secrets to discover, precious resources to claim, exploration, and ultimately all out war. There is literally none of that in Codex of Victory. The other reason I dislike campaigns is because of the way they spoon feed you units and upgrades. I want to play with all the toys from the very beginning. Not just because it's more fun, but also because by the time you finally get to the good stuff, the campaign (in this case, the entire game) is all but over. This is especially frustrating here because there really is quite a bit of content to enjoy. Too bad you don't really get to play with the really shiny toys for very long.
Now, with all that being said, it's not particularly fair of me to dislike a game for what it doesn't do, especially considering the fact that it doesn't promise nor does it even imply that it offers any of the above-listed features. With that in mind, feel free to kick my prejudices to the curb, and let's get on with the gameplay. As I previously noted, the base building is performed in real-time, which is a great idea, and combat is turn-based. As with all campaign-based strategy games, to win you must figure out what you are supposed to do, then do that. If I had to choose a single piece of advice to impart regarding combat strategy, it would be to advance within each skirmish map methodically so as to "pull" individual units and fight them piecemeal. OK, I actually have a second piece of advice: Do not leave the enemy to fortify its positions. Doing so will make the level much, much harder than it needs to be, and also much more tedious.
Graphically, Codex is a very nice looking game. It walks a fine line between beauty and efficiency. Everything moved briskly on my iPad Pro, and I didn't notice any unusual battery drain while playing. The sound however, was definitely lacking. Minimal and somewhat repetitive sound effects and music will cause you to not only remove your headphones while playing, but may also cause you to mute the game entirely.
Codex of Victory is one of those games that you're going to want to take or leave with nothing in between. If you like your strategy games with a good hand-crafted campaign, this is your baby. If you prefer them with more of a 4X feel then you're going to want to pass on this one.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Good looking visuals that will likely run well on supported devices. Sound: - 2 - Not very good sound or music. Controls: - 4 - I found myself fumbling a bit at the beginning, trying to figure out how the interface worked. Once I wrapped my brain around it, I was good to go. Gameplay: - 4/2 - If you're a hand-crafted campaign lover, this is for you. If not, then... not.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Don't rush headlong into every skirmish. Advance methodically so you can fight as few units as possible at any given time. Don't let the enemy become entrenched. Doing so will result in a much more difficult level.