Ashes of the Singularity

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Ashes of the Singularity Game Poster Image
Epic sci-fi strategy warfare has some violence, tame play.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Main focus of game is war, conquest on a galactic scale. Each faction is fighting for its own self-serving interests, be it strip mining resources, revenge for past actions. Ultimately, reasons for fighting become secondary to survival by way of eliminating opposing side.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although there's very small number of characters exhibiting some sort of heroic qualities, there's very little in the way of character development. Even in-game dialogue describes units as expendable resources.

Ease of Play

Fairly complex real-time strategy game, with lots of buildings, resources, units to manage. With "Form Army" command, players can group large numbers of various units together, give them a general order, after which units operate independently, in support of one another without need for micromanagement.

Violence

Violence persistent, with ultimate goal of wiping out opposition. Can be, literally, hundreds of units onscreen at a time battling one another. Despite  amount of violence, scale of units, robotic nature of most units means there are plenty of explosions, but no blood, gore.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ashes of the Singularity is a large scale, downloadable sci-fi themed real-time strategy game. Violence is non-stop in the game, with players tasked to build armies and face off against opposing forces in massive battles that could include hundreds of units at a time. Although the game encourages violence, the impact of that violence is lessened due to scale of the game and the sci-fi/robotic nature of the units keeping much in the way of blood from showing on the screen. There is a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to getting the hang of the controls and micromanaging your forces, though the game does try to lighten some of that responsibility by managing groups of units during battles. While plot in the single player campaign is fairly PG, parents should be aware that players could be exposed to more offensive language during online multiplayer matches.

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What's it about?

IN ASHES OF THE SINGULARITY, technology has developed that allows humanity to evolve to a point where it has shuffled off its mortal coil, becoming a collective A.I. seeking to expand its reach throughout the stars. To accomplish this, the "Post-Human Coalition" has traveled through space, transforming dead planets into resources needed to continue to evolve. Recently, though, PHC forces have had to deal with "Splinters", A.I. that have seemingly been corrupted and taken over by an unknown force bent on revenge. Once, humanity thought it was unique in the cosmos. Now, its legacy will wish it was.

Is it any good?

In most real-time strategy games, the bulk of battles are usually small skirmishes between a limited number of troops. This mainly happens because it's difficult to manage the actions of large groups of units. As a result, RTS games generally lack the epic scope of their turn-based brethren. Ashes of the Singularity, on the other hand, manages to keep battles huge, thanks to a unique features that let players collect different units together in a group, but treat them as a single entity. After forming an army and giving it an order, the game's A.I. handles the individual management of those troops, making sure that each part acts independently of each other while also supporting the other units within the group. This way, players can send waves of units at opponents and still focus on a larger overall strategy, instead of worrying about whether or not the long range cannons are positioned to give infantry covering fire. This kind of streamlining makes it much easier to command massive forces, sometimes leading to epic onscreen warfare of hundreds of units at once.

As great as it is to see all those units fighting each other in such a grand scale in Ashes of the Singularity, it's not enough to make up for the rest of the game's mediocrity. Take away the ability to control swarms of troops at once, and you're left with a fairly basic and bland RTS experience. While it's definitely a good looking and highly detailed game, that all gets lost once you're forced to zoom away from the action to manage larger groups. The epic sci-fi battle you saw a second ago quickly becomes little more than trying to micromanage a glorified ant farm. The 10+ missions in the single player campaign never really draw the player into the lore of this universe, and instead leave the player scratching his head while trying to sort out the plot. Not only that, but the campaign just feels underwhelming on the whole, almost as if it's an afterthought hurriedly tacked on to the multiplayer experience. On the positive side, the multiplayer matches do a lot to make up for the single player shortcomings. Matches, especially large scale face-offs, feel like they have to be won through tactics and strategy versus luck and speed. Also, from a technical standpoint, multiplayer games tend to run smoothly, despite the number of units on the screen. Still, it's not quite enough to keep Ashes of the Singularity from buckling under the weight of its own potential.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in gaming. Which has more impact: small scale skirmishes with small numbers of characters depicting the violence, or large scale battles where the overall destruction and body count is larger but the carnage is more implied than explicit?

  • Talk about advancements in technology. While the game is set in a fantasy future where humans are more machine than man, what are some real-life ways that technology has been used to improve our way of life?

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