Review – Fate of the World: Tipping Point – A Game about Global Warming

Posted by on October 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Fate of the World LogoFate of the World is the second game by the indie developers Red Redemption, and my first reaction was that this was going to be a green-peace-yuppie-tree-hugging-save-the-whales kind of game. The game features real-world climate data gathered by a Dr. Myles Allen of the University of Oxford, which is importnant considering the emphasis on Global Warming and the basic concept of the game is to save the Earth, from the year 2020 to 2200 and keep 50 “signature species” from going extinct, and 40 technologies to develop, as well as tipping points, like the Amazon Rain Forest collapses. Read on to see if my initial reaction is justified, or if there’s some real meat to this game.

Fate of the World begins in the year 2020, after major natural disasters and world-wide economic turmoil has led to the creation of the Global Environment Organization (GEO), which super cedes all governments on environmental issues. You take the role as the president of GEO, and it’s your job to ensure that planet Earth isn’t doomed. And it’s a helluva job.

The game doesn’t have many options, but then again it really doesn’t need many. Fate of the World: Tipping Point is more of a theoretical simulator with a bit of story thrown in than a traditional game. It reminds me of Universe Sandbox in some ways, but with a greater focus, and less sandbox. When starting up a game, you put in your Name, and Title (such as Sir, Your Excelency, My Lord) and then you are presented 5 or 6 different scenarios. For my review, I played “Africa Rising”, where I’m to improve Northern and Southern Africa. Sounds easy enough, but once the game begins, you realize how much harder it’s going to be.

The controls are mouse driven, so no keyboard keys to figure out. Instead, you have to click through the UI, mousing over buttons to figure out their purpose. The Game gives a brief tutorial that leaves a little to be desired. The tutorial gives you the basics, but really doesn’t guide you around the UI as well as it should. It took me a minute to figure out how to leave the “Card” area (more on that later), but once you get the hang of it, the UI is fluid and easy to use.

At least it's not on fire yet.

In World View the Earth takes up the center of the screen, and you can spin it, wiggle it, and view information on certain areas. It has 3 extra views for the Earth, as well. The first view shows how stable a region is. The second view shows the temperature of all of the regions. and the third shows what locations have changed, be it from the caps melting to coastal regions drowning. As I played, I found very little actual use for the views, but they were more of an interesting look at what policies I put in to place did to a specific region.

From world view, you can recruit individuals to work for GEO and place them in regions. There are 11 Regions in total with North America, South America, Europe, North Africa, South Africa, Middle East, Russia, India, South Asia, Japan, and Oceana. You can place up to 6 recruits per region, and that gives you six card slots . And if you’ve been paying attention, you’re probably wondering what the hell these “cards” that I keep talking about are.

When you select a region, your view is focused there. You can read local news for that region and find out what the people need/want, and you can also play cards. Cards arranged in categories and color. Green for Agriculture, Blue for Technology, Yellow for Energy, Red for Social, and Grey for Political. Before any cards of extreme use and importance can be used or made available, you have to play an opening card, such as an Energy Office. The cards are like policies, where you may play a card that researches renewable energy, or a card that increases coal mining. The hardest part of the game was finding a balance of energy creation, emission control, research, and keeping the region’s people happy.

Each turn of the game is equivalent to 5 years. That means that there are no more than 36 moves to make. Ever. Rise of Africa took a meager 5 turns, while some of the other scenarios took 20 turns. The upside is that no scenario feels like it’s drawn out, keeping the game interesting. The problem I ran into, though, was difficulty. It may be that I’m doomed to destroy the Earth instead of save it, or it could be that the game is very difficult, but I could not beat any of the scenarios. And they may be because of the small nuances in the game, just like an RTS.

Fate of the World: Tipping Point really impressed me. I had reservations about it, and I was right, to a degree. It is a tree-hugger game, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong or that I can’t enjoy it. And I found myself enjoying it immensely. Even if you ignore the global warming aspect of it, the premise is still a noble one (who doesn’t think that weening ourselves off of finite resources is a good idea?). And the sheer challenge of not destroying the world the world is actually quite fun. It’s not a game for everyone, and it most definitely should not be your sole source of information or decision making on climate change. Find it on Steam for $9.99 for the basic game, or $18.99 for the Tipping Point version, which is the basic game plus expansions.

7/10 FleshEatingZipper

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  • Cody Meyer

    Interesting .. though I think that games like this always feel doomed to single-focus perspectivs. Oh, and your site isn’t quite phone friendly yet. I’m typing while your corner pop-up covers up my word-entry space. ;)

  • Good review, Brandon.  When I saw this game on their website, I had the same reservations you did.  I wasn’t sure I could get behind the environmentalist aspects of the game and allow the game itself to shine through.  I, like many, am conscious of the environment but not so conscious that I want to play games about it.

    I’m glad to know the other aspects of the game are able to come to the front and, though I may never play it, I’d be confident talking to my gamer friends about it after having read your review.