As a Professional Game Reviewer (I can capitalize it if I want, dang it), I’m often assigned titles I’d never have considered playing otherwise. Building the China Wall, an RTS-style resource gathering/management game from Nordcurrent, is one of them: At first glance, it looked so boring, so downright meh, that I worried there wouldn’t even be enough gameplay for me to build a solid review around. You might find this hard to believe, but it turns out I was wrong. There’s plenty to like about the game – gameplay and pricing structure chief among those – and I’m a giant dolt for assuming otherwise. It’s so good, in fact, that I’m up late writing this review because I wanted to keep playing instead of doing the right thing and finishing my work first. “Professional” doesn’t always have to mean “adult,” after all.
A Better Love Story than Twilight
Things are going pretty well for Kong Batou. In one day he’s summoned to the emperor’s court and given a sweet job, then – perhaps best of all – told he can marry the big cheese’s daughter if he handles his duties like a pro. There’s only one problem: His task is building the Great Wall of China.
Fortunately, he knows how to delegate. Playing as Kong, your entire job in Building the China Wall revolves around telling laborers what needs done to fulfill the emperor’s monumental request. Building camps and specialized buildings like lumber mills, collecting resources, stonemasonry… whatever needs done, your “employees” know what it takes to do it right the first time. Just don’t take too long handing out responsibilities – those imperial-types aren’t exactly known for their patience when it comes to protecting their lands. Or allowing people who fail them to, you know, live.
An Effective Taskmaster
Think of Building the China Wall as an RTS without the combat. Tapping a resource or building site sends one of your workers out to collect or construct, which occupies him for a set amount of time. Once completed, he’s out of play until he returns to camp, at which point you can send him out on another job.
The fun comes by way of how hectic things get: It’s hard not to feel nervous about little men on the screen when the timer’s running out and you’ve still got sections of wall to build. Send a worker out to collect food when you’ve got ample supplies, for instance, and your performance rating (represented by one to three stars at the end of each level) may suffer for your indiscretion.
Things get even crazier in later levels, where you’re left to manage multiple units and resources across larger environments. Do you waste wood to build a bridge or send all your guys out to gather the stone near your camp? Build a stone mill or chop down trees? Finish a section of wall first or go for a relic across the map? As the boss, every decision is yours to make… and each could have dire consequences on your video social life.
Worth Your Attention
The free version of the game offers eleven levels of resource-gathering, wall-building fun. Even better, there’s no freemium content to be seen. Whether you like the game enough to buy the full version ($5 as of this writing) or decide to spend your dough on something else, you don’t have to worry about the game nickel-and-diming you to get the best possible experience. In a mobile industry where a lot of titles cost nothing up front and get you down the line, the old-school demo system is a refreshing change.
My opinion? Check it out, or at least go to the Play Store and look at the reviews if you’re on the fence about it. It’s a hectic, charming, and all-around engaging little game, and with a full-fledged demo at your disposal, you won’t have to pay a dime to decide if it’s for you.