Epic Manager on PC
One of the best things in the world of gaming is when two ideas come together to form something new and interesting. Epic Manager, a mash-up of traditional turn-based RPG and tycoon games, pulls it off with a fine flourish. This Early Access game puts players in control of their very own adventuring agency, putting a competitive-sports style spin on the “heroes for hire” concept. Will your agency rise to the top of the league, raking in fame and fortune, or fall flat amidst the perils of the world?
Epic Manager introduces the realm of Astraeus, a land rife with competing nobles and devious monsters. In response to the various threats to the peace, adventuring agencies were founded to give heroes some structure to their purpose. Players, as the head of one of these agencies, will have to manage their roster of adventurers, agency finances, and much more as they seek to build an empire that stands above the rest and makes the world a better place.
Gameplay in Epic Manager is largely divided into two equally-important sections. The larger, of course, is the high-level oversight of the agency itself. This job includes managing money, making decisions about which factions to come to the aid of, and keeping your adventurers under contract without breaking the bank. On the other end, you’ve got the week-to-week running of each of your agency’s parties, the groups of individual heroes who are out doing the heavy work.
While it may sound simple on a broad scale, Epic Manager is filled to the brim with tiny details that keep things interesting. The driving factor for the success of your agency is where they place in the league standings. Each year is divided into four “trimesters”, consisting of 12 weeks each. At the end of each of these, the bottom two agencies from the league are eliminated, meaning the competition gets more fierce as the end of the year grows nearer.
Epic Manager’s focus on staying atop the league standings is based on one of the game’s most important resources: fame. Agencies may garner fame, and thus stay afloat, by completing quests, signing seasoned veterans to new contracts, or through completing random encounter events that pop up from week to week. In addition to fame, players will need to ensure their agency has plenty of cash on hand, as each hero’s weekly pay must be accounted for if you’re to keep things going.
In addition to the high-level view, Epic Manager also keeps players in control of the weekly work of their parties and heroes. Where they travel, which quests they attempt, and direct control over turn-based combat all keep players involved in the affairs of their crew. Several underlying systems, including class-based hero leveling, astrology-style bonuses to the worshipers of certain gods, and more all factor in to how successful each hero, and thus each agency, will be on a given week.
What strikes me most about Epic Manager is the level of control and detail it puts into the player’s hands. The smooth combination of the management side and RPG elements create a compelling experience. As an example, while putting all of your strongest heroes together in a single party may pay off in the short-term as they chew through quests, when it comes time to re-sign the contracts, you’re likely to feel the weight of your decisions pulling on your pocketbook.
Epic Manager is a game about balance, attention to detail, and planning. Trying to think too short-term will keep your heroes going strong but may leave your agency strapped for cash or unable to meet its heroes’ demands. Conversely, focusing too much on “playing the long game” may mean falling short when the trimester ends, ending your game as the final tally cuts you from the competition outright. With so many moving pieces, it can be tough to manage everything, but when things come together it’s a wonderful time.
Altogether, Epic Manager is packed with features and details that make it shine in both aspects of itself. Sure, the RPG side is a bit lighter than a more focused title, but it’s certainly better than I anticipated. Consistent, well-done audiovisual design brings everything together, and the user interface makes keeping tabs on all the important things simple and efficient. It may still be in Early Access, but Epic Manager is a complete package that’s well worth the $17.99 price on Steam, and an easy recommendation for RPG and tycoon fans alike.