Sorcerer King is a game that takes the general terms and conditions of a 4X strategy title and turns them sideways. For those unfamiliar with a 4X strategy title, the term stands for eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate, and it's basically an easy way to say empire building game. The Civilization and Total War franchises are examples of 4X strategy games, so it's very likely you're familiar with them even if you haven't played one.

What Sorcerer King does differently than more traditional 4X strategy titles is you play in a world that has already been conquered. Instead of starting on equal ground with the other nations or tribes in the game, you come in after the Sorcerer King took over the world. All of the other nations are in shambles, and it's your job to rise up and bring down the Sorcerer King before he reaches his next goal: becoming a God.

To stop the Sorcerer King in such a dire situation requires players to be a little more creative than they would in a normal 4X strategy game. Instead of building an army from your own citizens and then taking down one nation at a time, you must travel to the other nations and attempt to recruit them into your army. At the same time, the Sorcerer King tries to get you to join his army, but doing so means a lifetime of slavery and the end of the game. That's not a recommended course of action.

There's a constant doomsday clock that ticks down as you play through the game. This clock represents the Sorcerer King's progress toward destroying magic shards throughout the kingdom and recruiting people from the same nations you're trying to build an army from. If the doomsday clock reaches zero, the Sorcerer King has collected all of the resources he needs and the game ends.



As you play through the game, the Sorcerer King may offer you a trade. He may present a helpful item in exchange for moving the doomsday clock up a few ticks. These are the kind of events that occur in the world of Sorcerer King that aren't quite as common in other 4X strategy titles. However, the changes don't stop there.

Sorcerer King also features a virtual Dungeon Master. The job of the virtual DM is to make the player's experience as entertaining as possible. In some situations it will be very clear when the DM made things easier for you. For example, once you've built a massive army, instead of having to deal with small battles that you'd easily win, the DM will essentially give you an automatic win so you don't have to waste time on the trivial battle.

There are other instances in which the DM simply steers the action properly to ensure everything plays out as it should. For example, if the Elves are at war with the Golems and you form an alliance with the Elves, chances are the Golems won’t be friendly. If the Golems happen to be your next door neighbors, that's probably going to cause a major conflict on the battlefield. The DM makes sure that's how things go and move forward at a fun pace. This helps prevent the issue with some 4X strategy games in which you know you've lost two hours before the game actually ends, and there's nothing you can do about it other than start over.

Quests to other nations are a multiple choice affair. You'll be given a series of choices to help make the gameplay experience more enjoyable. Do you want to invade the Orcs, befriend the Orcs or ignore them? Everything you do in the game has a significant impact on how the story plays out, and the plot is a huge part of Sorcerer King. To that end, the developers at Stardock hired a professional writer to give Sorcerer King that extra level of fun and entertainment.

Early access to Sorcerer King is currently available via Steam. The game is scheduled to hit the PC sometime in early 2015, but if you want to play a beta version now, head over to Steam to try it out. As you might expect, the beta doesn't include everything that will be in the final game, but it should give you a good idea how it’ll play.

We'll have more on Sorcerer King as we get closer to the early 2015 release date.