After the overwhelmingly busy months at the end of 2022, we’re taking some time in January to check out some of the games that are coming out in 2023. We’ve been able to check out some of these in person already, and are happy we can finally share our thoughts with you at a time where we’re not all being swamped with new games. First up: three upcoming titles from Kalypso Games: Tortuga – A Pirate’s Tale, Railway Empire 2 and Dungeons 4.
When we think of Kalypso, the strategy genre comes to mind, but that’s not why it’s one of our favorite publishers. What we like about the Germany-based publisher is that they tend to have long-lasting relationships with their development studios, and they give them time to iterate on their work. Sure, that means you get quite a few sequels (Tropico 6, anyone?), but they’re also pretty consistent about putting out quality titles. For 2023, they have three lined up already:
Tortuga – A Pirate’s Tale
We’re mentioning this one first, as it’s already getting pretty close to its release – scheduled for January 19. Developed by Gaming Minds Studios, it’s a swashbuckling adventure from the studio behind (amongst others) the Port Royale games – meaning they know their way around ships and exploring the Caribbean.
Tortuga – a Pirate’s Tale relies much less on (honest) trade though, and instead tasks you to fulfill your destiny as one of the greatest pirates to ever set sail. This results in a game that features a lot more combat and plenty of role playing game mechanics, which fans of games like Sid Meier’s Pirates! will certainly appreciate.
There are numerous upgrade paths in the game as well, from the ability to upgrade your ship and its components to the chance to learn new skills that are useful for an ambitious pirate. And combat skills are important (battles take place from a turn-based perspective with mechanics that feel like an expanded and improved version of the combat in Port Royale 4), but you’ll also need to learn how to manage your crew. Your crewmates aren’t necessarily the most polite and loyal bunch, and when aligning (or not) with towns and other pirates you’ll regularly find that information is king.
We already had a short developer-led demo of the game last summer and recently went hands-on with the game as well, and can’t wait to see where our pirate ambitious take us once this launches.
Railway Empire 2
As proof that Gaming Minds is a busy studio these days, they’re also developer a second Railway Empire game for Kalypso. It’s scheduled for a launch later this year, and as with the first game it’ll be launched for consoles as well – a bit of a rarity in the strategy/tycoon genre.
We’ve covered the first Railway Empire a number of times, most recently in the Complete Edition that came out about two and a half years ago – which brings us to an interesting point. Where do you go in a sequel when you’ve already covered so much of the world in the base game, especially if you count all the post-launch DLC?
For one, the base maps in Railway Empire 2 are quite a bit larger than those in the first game, with two large maps that cover the United States and the European mainland. If you already have the complete edition of the first game then that might not be the biggest draw for you though, but the sequel promises several quality of life improvements that relate to its gameplay – some of which we’ve already seen in action.
These include a forgiving way to build tracks, which now involves less busywork as the game will automatically terraform the environment for you. But as fun and streamlined as that sounds, it’s still costly to go through a mountain or a valley, so you still have important decisions to make on that front. Also improved are the train stations, which can now be larger than before, allowing you to build true hub stations that connect tons of lines across the continent. Combined with optimizations like automatic signal placement and wider bridges, digital train enthusiasts will no doubt enjoy playing around this massive sandbox when it releases later this year.
Did we mention that Kalypso likes sequels? After Tropico, Port Royale and Sudden Strike, developer Realmforge Studios is producing a fourth entry in the Dungeons series as well. It’s scheduled for a release across all current platforms later this year.
We briefly saw this one in action back in the summer, but it’s keeping its secrets close to its chest. A quick look at Dungeons 4 reveals a game that looks and feels similar to the previous one in the series, and while that’s good news for longtime fans it makes it harder to judge what’s different this time around. Protagonists like The Absolute Evil and Dark Elf Thalya return, as does the mix of dungeon management and conquering the overworld – which was a great addition to the Dungeon Keeper-inspired formula.
New for Dungeons 4 appears to be the role of the dwarves, who are taking a keen interest in your underground lair for the rich minerals it might hold. As fantasy lore has told us, these are promising to be fierce adversaries in this new Dungeons game, so we’re eager to go hands on with this one later in the year. We expect this one to come out in the second half of the year, but we’ll be keeping an eye on updates as they come in.