In the sea of Steam Summer Sale there are lot of floating barrels hiding some nice games you may overlooked from various reasons.
Domina a strategy sim with an ancient Rome gladiators fights background. At the first view may not be attractive but as you start playing it grows on you.
Even tho the gladiators and associated historical assets are not very accurate the game manages to build a proper credible atmosphere.
Taken the role of Domina - a ludus owner your main task is to develop a high status school of gladiators starting from scratch.
The menus are easy handling but it takes some time to learn when and what to upgrade and how everything works in your favor. Hiring the right helper like an Agent or an Emptor, can boost the game in a certain direction or help you providing a healthy but cheaper environment for your fighters to win. Winning will allow you to earn enough money to invest in future upgrades. The skills and the upgrades tree are also easy to understand but picking a path of development adds a lot of replayable value to the game.
One of the most impressive aspects of the game is the amount of small details like the spices into a food: the public insults (which you can turn off if you are sensible to that) or cheers, the rain that casually appears in the training days, the description of the gladiators status and mood, the dialogues and story. This game was made with care and love and looks like they enjoyed making it.
And there is more as the gameplay requires to also carefully handle your political connections, while evolving your property, winning the battles and the public sympathy.
And when I say the public sympathy I don't mean just the in-game one. There is a nice catch to this. If you chose to stream the game you can get the stream viewers involved. And this brings everything to another level of fun. You can enhance or reduce the money reward by voting !ya or !boo and there are also more or less moral choices to be voted for but you have to keep in mind that you are a ludus owner in the ancient Rome not a XXI century citizen with proper ethics.
Even better if you join the chat you automatically become one of the gladiators.
The fighting itself offers plenty of satisfaction and if you research Mind Control you can directly give the hits and dodge the attacks. Or you can just be a spectator and let the AI do all the job.
If you lose but surrender just like in the past the public can vote for your gladiator life or death.
But winning will give a great deal of rewards. Wont spoil with the final outcomes of the game but there is also an option for an endless mode.
Overall is worth trying for the sheer fun. Doesn't matter if you lose or win.
It has plenty to do and more depth in the gameplay that I was expecting. A nice surprise. Vote !live. You wont regret it.
*Images and video courtesy to DarrigazPlaysGames on Twitch.