The future, the Middles Ages, and various fantasy worlds are somewhat densely populated with strategy titles. Antiquity, on the other hand, seems to get less love than it deserves. The Fertile Crescent, currently in its alpha stage, and developed and published by LincRead, changes that and sends you all the way back to the Bronze Age.
While not exactly saturated, it has to be mentioned that the strategy genre has some ancient period entries such as Caesar, Pharaoh, or Europa Universalis: Rome. In the traditional real-time strategy niche, one of the most prominent titles is with no doubt the original Age of Empires — which also happens to be the game The Fertile Crescent draws its inspiration most from.
Both games are largely set in the antique Near East. You take control of a tribe of diligent workers, have them collect resources, construct new buildings, train military units, research technologies, and walk the path of glory by wiping out anybody else in the area.
The Fertile Crescent starts you off with a scout, some workers, and a mother and her adorable little child. The latter two can establish your headquarters, which is used to train more workers. Said workers are primarily used to build new structures and collect resources, namely food, lumber, gold, metal and clay.
Some strategic choices have to be made right from the start. The Fertile Crescent does, true to its name, offer fertile soil, but not everywhere. Clay pits need to be built in swamps or near water. Fields yield more food the better the ground they are built on is. Building one near water is wise, whereas building a field on rocky terrain makes it virtually useless.
Food is a key resource in The Fertile Crescent. All units constantly consume it, and should you ever run out, your starving tribe is going to revolt and overthrow you. Additionally, a surplus in food speeds up research. Stockpiling food is possible, but having a steady income is recommended.
Research mostly improves the efficiency of your economy, but can also give military units a boost or allow your tribe to move from copper to bronze weapons. As of now, all technologies can be researched — there is no branching tech tree.
Once your economy is stable, it is time to build up a military and subdue the enemy tribe. Currently, this will either be a human- or AI-controlled tribe on a random map, with three difficulties being available for the AI. Additionally, there is a sandbox mode in which no hostile tribes are present.
Otherwise, The Fertile Crescent does not hold many surprises. The structures and units are nothing special, and are sometimes not as visually distinct as they could be. The Fertile Crescent does feature charming pixelated graphics — the visual can be quite soothing, provided you are not suffering from pixel art-style fatigue.
That said, The Fertile Crescent is still in a fairly early stage of its development. While it may lack content, it has functioning online multiplayer and random map generation, runs smoothly, and comes with an interesting idea or two that can be built upon. It is free of charge, so give it a go.