Meridian: Squad 22, developed by Elder Games, is an intense game blending a hard science-fiction story with real-time strategy gameplay. Primarily focusing on base-building with combat tactics, it is a sequel to the first installment in the series, Meridian: New World. Despite the fact that this game was developed by just one guy (so the trailer says) you would swear that it had a full-fledged team behind it.
The design work in Meridian: Squad 22 is extremely polished. I ran the game at its maximum settings and was taken aback by the detail in both the game’s environments and units. The texture on the water is better than a lot of games I have seen in the past. Furthermore, there are small details which help to sell the game’s world. If you defeat any machine based enemy (a Chimera for example), there is an explosion followed by a scorch mark on the ground. This type of detail, while not necessary, helps to create an immersive experience for the player. The combat aspect is flashy and fun with lots of colors trailing behind the different unit’s bullets. Needless to say, I was and still am impressed with all the visual aspects of this game.
As I previously stated, Meridian: Squad 22 is a follow up to the Meridian: New World game; the plotline of Meridian: Squad 22 builds on the events of the past game. In the distant future, Earth is faced with a global shortage of food and water. To meet this problem the people of Earth sent out a search team to the planet Meridian to assess its suitability for life. However, once the team was scheduled to arrive, Earth never heard from them again.
Enter Squad 22. You are tasked with going to this planet to find out what happened to the first mission. However, upon your arrival to the planet, your ship is shot down by some unknown force and leaving you marooned in an alien world. I make it a habit not to spoil any game plot so I will not go any further into the story. In conclusion, the game has a hard science-fiction plotline which is very well crafted and keeps the player engaged throughout the game.
Just like the rest of the game, the mechanics used in Meridian: Squad 22 are well put together. At its most basic level, the concept is simple like most RTS games. Highlight the units you wish to move then just click to where you want them to move. If you desire your units to attack a particular enemy then just click on that enemy. In the end, you want to use your tactics to help accomplish the goal of the mission. These core mechanic do not deviate much in RTS games. Throughout the campaign, you must collect shardium via drones and mines to pay for your units. So there is a challenging balance; you must keep your drones alive and efficient while going on the offensive to complete your objective.
There are different types of units available within the game as well. The game includes your standard ground units (infantry), along with mechanized units (chimera), naval and airborne units as well. Now each of these units has unique strengths and weaknesses and it is up to you to determine what best suits the situation at hand. As you progress through the campaign, you can collect various unique resources that are used as a sort of currency for different powerups throughout the game. Whether they be to increase your infantry unit’s armor or a number of resources, your drones can collect. Ultimately it is up to you to decide what you believe is best.
All-in-all, I enjoyed my time with Meridian Squad 22. It is a well built, real-time strategy game that includes a beautiful design and compelling story. The full game is now available on steam and if you are a fan of either RTS or science fiction games, I highly recommend this one.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Even better the second time around
Design - 8/10
Plot - 8/10
Gameplay Mechanics - 8/10
Congrats to Elder Games on creating a compelling, story-driven, real-time strategy game that was a constant pleasure to play.