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Ixion | The wheel will turn

Dec 08 - 06:47, by adaur

Ixion | The wheel will turn Many city-builders allow you to take it easy and indulge in a little bit of management. Ixion chooses a different path: that of keeping the player in suspense while giving him his dose of tycoon. In short, let's say that the fraction of friction is the function of Ixion's fiction. And I'm glad I'm not a radio journalist because I could never have uttered that sentence.

The year 2049. Your varicose veins have not disappeared. Stanislas from accounting still has bad breath. Oh, and the Earth no longer exists and all humanity now lives in a giant wheel-shaped space station, so maybe I should have started there. Anyway, as administrator of the Tiqqun station, it's your job to develop and run - duh - this habitat while lugging it all over the galaxy to mine asteroids and unravel the mystery of, uh, why you blew up the moon. And no, it can't "happen to everyone". :)

Well, there I am put askew with the sun in the eyes to make a pretty photograph, but reassure you one can adjust the camera.

Engine, it runs, Ixion. Ixion looks like many other city-builders: there are resources to accumulate, roads to lay, insect farms to build to feed the workers, a happiness gauge (the "stability") and a great research tree where many buildings have several levels of improvement. The whole thing is quite pleasing to the eye, especially thanks to the slight curvature of the playing field (wheel obliges) which is much more disorienting than another village at the edge of a forest. Otherwise, I did encounter some bugs and things that stuck (for example, I sometimes blocked a game by dismantling a warehouse before the second one was 100% finished), but nothing dramatic.

One of the big obstacles in Ixion is the lack of space, which makes for a rather interesting layout challenge and highlights the game's main innovation: sectors. Initially, you can only build in one segment of the Ferris wheel that is Tiqqun Station, but by spending enough resources, you can break into adjacent neighborhoods and expand your base. This is a vital action because we are very, very cramped in our initial piece of land and the buildings to be built - smelters, refineries, recycling centers - are more and more massive. Except that it's not just a matter of a silly expansion because the sectors are independent: they have their own resources, their own happiness, their own laws, their own population and if you want to transfer metal or inhabitants from one sector to another, you even have to go through a menu.

Sector and a half. The result is that you don't manage a large homogeneous colony like in all city-builders, but a set of distinct neighborhoods: as each sector is encouraged to specialize in one area to get bonuses, you can have an industrial district where disgruntled workers are working themselves to death next to a prosperous and quiet farm sector that provides food for all of Tiqqun. It's up to the player to think about the scale of the station so that the needs and happiness levels of all the neighborhoods balance each other out.

Despite this, don't think of Ixion as a cool, easygoing management game where you can tweak settings for hours on end: in reality, it's a city-builder based on stress, urgency and failure. The game puts us under constant pressure as the Tiqqun's hull requires constant repairs, and therefore metal - of which there is never enough. Everything is calculated to make you go from difficulty to difficulty: electricity is very expensive to produce, the happiness of the inhabitants deteriorates enormously over time, and food stocks are constantly on the verge of deficit. To make matters worse, small events are triggered where our people will make expensive demands, such as the opening of a new sector or the construction of an infirmary. After my first four-hour game, it's quite simple, I was exhausted.

The torture of the wheel. All this reminds of course Frostpunk, from which Ixion is very, very strongly inspired. And why not, it was great Frostpunk, even if the concept of "stressful city-builder" still leaves me confused. But I think Ixion has gone wrong by taking over Frostpunk's expedition system: in order to progress in the scenario and get new resources, it is vital to go to a galaxy exploration menu where you direct a small fleet of ships, which is great on paper... and a bit irritating when you have to interrupt three times a minute (!) to open the map and order ship X to go to point of interest Y.

I would have loved to have a quiet sandbox mode or a mode with less exploration, but no, only a single player campaign is available. Too bad for me, because because of the serial interruptions and the permanent sense of urgency, Ixion doesn't really suit me. At the same time, I belong to a very specific branch of city-builders, the ones who don't give a damn about the story and just want to be left to draw nice roads and build houses. If on the other hand you are less stubborn and enjoy the challenge, maybe for you this will be the wheel of fortune.

My opinion? Complete, addictive and just the right amount of original, Ixion would be in everyone's hands if it didn't constantly try to put the player in difficulty. Challenge fans will find the space Frostpunk they are looking for, just regretting its invasive fleet management. What do you think about it?

Genre: Management
Developer: Bulwark Studios
Publisher: Kasedo Games
Available Platform: Windows
Test Platform: Windows
Download: 11.6 GB
Languages : English
Price : 35 for the game

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