Release Date: 1 December 2015
Developer: SmartArt Game Studio
Tenshu General fills a very specific niche. It’s a real time strategy game for those who aren’t all that good at real time strategy games. This is a category I find myself firmly sitting in. A decent amount of the first PC games that I played (and were good enough to still remember) were real time strategies, and my favourite game for a long time was Age of Mythology. With all that being said however I’m pretty rubbish at them. I’m honestly not sure how many of these games I only beat because I used cheats or how many I must have given up halfway through the campaigns because it got difficult. The problem I think is that you need to manage so many different things in real time: troops, resources, upgrades. It can be very easy to forget about this or that.
Tenshu General is something of a devolution of the genre in much the same way as DiveKick is of the fighting genre. The amount of things you need to think about is very limited. You have one single base and can have up to four separate armies that all move as one. Resource Management is stripped down to a single resource, rice, and upgrading towns to collect more is a simple process. That isn’t however to say that Tenshu General is simple. The troops you buy for each army, which upgrades you buy and when, where you place your ambassador etc. – there’s still a large amount of choice and complexity.
There are also elements taken from grand strategy, namely the provinces. Each section of land is a separate province, if your army is the only one on it you claim it gaining any resources collected there. In addition to this, you move slower through unclaimed territories and you cannot pass through them meaning that spending the time to capture a province with no rice production may be worth it. Each province also has a different terrain which can impart bonuses or negatives on a particular troop type meaning that army composition is important.
Tenshu General has it’s limitations. Whilst there aren’t enough small factors to consider such that it overloads you, they also perhaps don’t have enough effect. The way to win almost any map feels exactly the same: capture as much as early as possible and crush your opponent’s main army before they are able to build it up, then simply take out whatever small forces they can muster until you have control of the whole area and have four fully powered armies with which to storm their castle. It hardly matters about positioning and terrain advantage when you have a fully stocked army and almost every game plays out in the same way. The only real difference for this is if you include more players.
As I said right at the start Tenshu General fills a niche and it does it very well. It’s simple on the surface but has just enough depth to it to allow for more interesting play. It’s certainly not for a hardcore RTS fan but for those who maybe missed the bandwagon of the early to mid 2000’s RTS it’s a small and cheap game that would be a great introduction to the genre. I should point out that the review key for this product was provided by the developer free of charge.