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Parents' Guide to

Jon Shafer's At the Gates

By Michael Lafferty, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Average strategy game focuses on Roman and tribal warfare.

Game Windows 2019
Jon Shafer's At the Gates Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

Old-school civilization-building games can provide long-term time sinks of amusement if they're good, but if they're average, the time sink is more like a sinkhole. Jon Shafer's At the Gates struggles with a bare-bones tutorial and gameplay that isn't intuitive, but it starts to make sense after you've played for a while. The game relies on minimal animation on a watercolor map covered by the fog of war that, while colorful, simply doesn't give a feeling of wonder, even as players are trying to combat the seasons. To train takes a while, and players can't train more than one clan at a time, meaning that seasons rush past while they're waiting for essential skills to train and benefit the clan. On the plus side, At the Gates does contain all the elements of classic civ-building games. This is a 4X game (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) with solid game-winning goals. The idea is to build up a clan, survive the harsh seasons, and then dispatch the Roman legions from your lands while creating your own empire. But the game advances slowly, and there aren't even visual bits of eye candy to spice things up.

The skill trees are well-designed, with basic skills leading to more refined ones, although it takes longer to train better skills. But players also can't forget the harvesting elements, which are vital, because you need to acquire materials to advance the civilization. Jon Shafer's At the Gates is a true throwback game, boasting a turn-based chess feel that requires thought and that simply cannot be rushed through. While the game may not be long on eye candy, it does a nice job of engaging the brain without forcing players to rush through decisions. Since it's not entirely a game focused on violence, it could serve as a nice intro to the genre for younger players, while veterans may find the lack of graphical wonder and the all-too-familiar game structure merely average.

Game Details

  • Platform: Windows
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online?: Available online
  • Publisher: Conifer Games
  • Release date: January 23, 2019
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Topics: Adventures
  • ESRB rating: NR for Jon Shafer's At the Games is not rated, but the game does contain minimal violence between tribes and alcohol can be researched to help with the mood of the clans within the civiliation.
  • Last updated: January 24, 2019

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