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Pharaoh: A New Era

Pharaoh: A New Era Breathes New Life Into an Old Classic

Want to build your own Ancient Egyptian empire? Pharaoh: A New Era challenges you to shepherd your people through thousands of years of history.

At least, that’s the theory. Pharaoh: A New Era made us grin every time our empire, the Nuff Dynasty, got that little bit bigger. But we also learnt a valuable lesson. When a game advises you something is very combustible, you should really listen to it.

We were so swept up in admiring my growing city that we overlooked the the fact a significant portion of it was on fire. But that’s part of Pharaoh: A New Era’s appeal: even if you’ve only got a passing awareness of the period/culture, its Ancient Egyptian trappings lend it real charm.

Sure, Cities: Skylines is excellent but you can’t beat building a giant Egyptian statue slap-bang in the middle of the city. Did we spend our citizens’ money building two of these, just so they could walk past them on the way home to work? Yes. Did this bring us even closer to bankruptcy? Also, yes.

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Because, while you can play Pharaoh: A New Era in either sandbox mode or campaign mode, it doesn’t hold you back from making mistakes. Each of the first few campaign missions introduces a different mechanic, so you’re not thrown in at the deep end. But if you’re determined to make suspect decisions it won’t stop you.

Pharaoh: A New Era

Through the aforementioned fires and a couple of bankruptcies we learnt that, yes, the historical aspect of Pharaoh: A New Era is charming, but you’re going to have to put real work in. Speaking of work, slavery is notable by its absence, which makes sense in the context of the game. But it’s also papering over a particularly suspect aspect of Ancient Egypt.

We wouldn’t advise diving into sandbox mode until you’ve completed at least a few missions, but the freedom it gives you is quite something. Certain features are only available when other buildings have been completed, but it’s up to you what direction you take. Want to mine gold? Grow olives? Murder ostriches? Knock yourself out.

Of course, being a pharaoh comes with its own issues – you’ll have enemies trying to sack your city, unhappy citizens and more. The more time we spent with the game, the more we wished fires were our only problem. But we enjoyed almost every minute, even with the barrage of problems we’ve had to deal with.

Pharaoh: A New Era isn’t perfect, however. As a remake of the original 1999 Pharaoh, it improves on most aspects of the original. Aside from just being prettier, it sports a better interface and is much easier to get to grips with. But some reason it won’t let you rotate the map, whereas the original did.

So you can only ever view your city from one angle, which is a little disappointing. There are also some aspects of the game that aren’t, strictly speaking, historically accurate. Coins weren’t around as early as the game suggests, nor were police stations.

But, these grumbles aside, we had a blast with Pharaoh: A New Era. If you want a city builder that’s a little different, but still as engaging as modern-theme offerings, we doubt you’ll regret getting wrapped up in it.

Pharaoh: A New Era is available on PC via Steam, priced at £19.99 with a 15% launch discount.

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