Contradicted, Yet Carried, By Atmosphere
Roman mythology and Greek mythology, will always have a place in media. The sheer depth of material can influence countless people in their creative states. However, there does exist more than enough proof that not everything based of said material can be great, or even inspired.
Not that Astrae Bellum isn't inspired. It really is, and cccplay should get an award for that alone. It goes beyond what an ordinary Flash game would do, taking the stories of old, characters from ages ago, and creating something slightly interesting out of it. The moral -- we are stronger united -- isn't subtle, but it is never forced upon you. By contrast, the music quietly makes its way into your consciousness and mixed with the smooth winter colors used in the background it creates an amazing aura, an atmosphere like few others. In fact, name even just one other game online that does this. Hard, isn't it?
But atmosphere aside, there isn't much to be said about Astrae Bellum. If you've played the board game Risk, you'll get the jist of this. Just build up your mana (troops) and try to take the other stars (countries). A little more strategy is involved in this -- you get to unleash spells (roll dice) that could affect the outcome of the battle. It's kind of boring, actually.
Why is it so boring? We've seen it all before, first of all. Secondly, which is odd, I believe it's also because of the atmosphere. When the aura is as quiet and soothing as this, you're supposed to relax. But you're playing a powerful god trying to conquer stars before your adversary does -- an adversary who is also a god! It doesn't help when there's barely any action going on onscreen -- sparks and stars moving to and fro, maybe a spell animation and sound effect here and there. Where's the stirring music? The visualization of conflict? The feeling of power, the power of gods and their epic confrontations? It's just not there.
It's not an awful game. It's not even bad. Effort has been put into this, lovingly so. You can tell a long time has been put into making this game. But I don't think I could myself recommend it. Sure, try it out. Maybe this is game of the year for you. But for me, there is only calm and relaxation to be had. Not what I want when I'm playing a game.