Rising Empires is hands down one of the finest strategy games ever made for mobile devices. The basic premise is a lot like a fantasy version of Civilization: Expand your empire build cities, develop them by building improvements and improving the surrounding territory with farms and minds, research technologies, build armies battle rival civilizations to expand your influence and power.
What sets Rising Empires apart is detail and atmosphere. Military units are extremely customizable with different stats, weapons, equipment, numerous special traits, and corresponding costs. You can even name each company individually, if you want. There’s an automated but very deep battle system when armies clash, with individual companies attacking and supporting each other, based not only on unit stats and numbers but factors like terrain, time of year, morale, and force composition.
Military manpower is taken from your empire’s population, and damage to your units is measured in individual deaths. Even victory has a tangible price, one that can negatively affect your peacetime production and population growth for a long time to come.
There are six races with different traits, which actually play quite differently in ways that fit their fantasy archetypes. Elven cities thrive in forests, rather than plains. Greenskins breed extremely rapidly but have inferior economic productivity, making them better suited to war than peace. The evil undead Ende have a weird set of mechanical advantages and disadvantages that makes them potentially fearsome but dependent on a much larger greenskin underclass that must be kept in line.
The setting is mostly standard Tolkienesque fantasy with a bit of Steven Erikson thrown in, but the strength of the mechanics give it personality. You’re rewarded for playing fantasy races like fantasy races instead of reskinned humans, casualties in battle actually hurt even when you win, and the sheer quantity of options and customization, both civilian and military, made me feel more invested in my empire as mine. The gameplay is extremely strong, with lots of depth and the same compulsive “one more turn” quality of Civilization.
It feels wonderfully immersive, despite the rudimentary graphics. Rising Empires would be an excellent game of considerable depth even on a PC, and on mobile devices it blows almost everything else out of the water.