Etherium

Game review by
Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media
Etherium Game Poster Image
Micromanaging play adds little to average strategy title.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Strategy game more interested in conquering, expanding colonies than positive messaging.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No role models, but players can choose how they play, using diplomacy with secondary factions or simply going for conquest. 

Ease of Play

Straightforward RTS design, decent tutorial for novices, option for some confusion with controls in heat of battle. 

Violence

There are explosions during combat, units disappear in fiery blasts, but violence is pretty minimal. A variety of weaponry used from ground-based units to aerial strikes and deployment.

Sex
Language

"S--t," other profanity used frequently.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Etherium is a downloadable 4X strategy game in which players explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate by conquering a planet and destroying enemy factions. Video cut scenes feature frequent use of expletives such as "s--t" and also feature unmoderated multiplayer. Though it comes with a tutorial that helps explain gameplay mechanics, parents may want to be on hand to reduce frustration for players. Fights in the game are conducted with both aerial and ground-based weapons, but, apart from explosions and disappearing units, violence is minimal.

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What's it about?

ETHERIUM is a 4X strategy game that pits three empires against each other to control a handful of planets and the resources found on them, such as etherium deposits. Conquest mode allows players to choose among three factions -- the Consortium, the Intar, and the Vectide Empire -- and though each plays slightly differently, the core strategy elements are the same. Each plays slightly differently, although the core gameplay elements are the same. Players can play politics in the game, use diplomacy, build up their colonies, and battle rivals in each mission-based scenario. There's also a skirmish mode for quick fights and multiplayer battles against other gamers.

Is it any good?

As in other strategy games, Etherium has a tendency to get you overly focused on micromanaging elements of your empire. You have to manage resources, build units, explore, conquer, and build up settlements to confront new challenges, which works for the strategy masterminds who want to fully control everything, but it can be daunting for many other players. This is definitely highlighted by the demonstrable gap between the simple tactics shown in the tutorial for handling your forces and the complex reality of managing everything during gameplay. Now, although Etherium comes with three difficulty levels to help players ease into the game at their preferred skill levels, many seem to be prologues for multiplayer matches. Multiplayer is what will keep players coming back, assuming the lobbies are populated with players looking for matches as well. During our tests, the multiplayer lobbies remained empty, which was a major drawback.

Some control elements seemed to demonstrate flaws in their design. For example, the right- and left-click elements feel inconsistent during commands, whereas the unit symbols didn't accurately depict what the actual unit might be (is that a fighter or a bomber you've just highlighted?). These oddities were slightly countered by some clever game elements; for instance, along with fighting other factions, players have to deal with indigenous species that are openly hostile and will attack when hatched. These natural threats mean you're frequently forced to fight on several fronts, providing an extra challenge to players and computerized opponents alike. Overall, although Etherium is visually pleasing and there are some unique game challenges, the entire experience is limited by the micromanagement focus and some game flaws, making this a solid but unexceptional strategy game.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in games. Is the violence in Etherium acceptable because only explosions are shown? Is limited violence acceptable, or should violence not be tolerated at all?

  • Families can talk about the strategies of playing a 4X game. How should you plan and think ahead for possible problems that could arise? How could these skills translate to planning in the real world?

Game details

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