Thursday, 23 May 2024

At The Gates: A Challenging Strategy Game Review

At The Gates is a strategy game that brings a new level of intellectual challenge to the genre. Unlike other games that focus on bloody action, At The Gates tests your strategic skills as you navigate the harsh world of barbarian life. In this game, you take on the role of a barbarian lord, leading your clan to survive in a land where winters are more deadly than enemy attacks. If you can survive the initial challenges, you may even have the chance to become a conqueror of Rome.

A Unique Blend of Strategy and RPG

At first glance, At The Gates may seem similar to other 4X strategy games like Civilization. However, this game also incorporates elements of rogue-like games. Instead of commanding armies, you manage clans with unique strengths and weaknesses. Each clan has its own portrait and conditions that affect their stats. For example, one clan may be quick learners, giving them the ability to train faster, but they may also have a tendency to steal resources. Assigning specific jobs to each clan member becomes crucial for the success of your growing empire. Some may gather resources, explore, hunt, or fight, among other tasks.

This RPG-like system adds depth to the game, as your units become more than just numbers on a map. Each character has their own needs and desires that you must manage alongside other aspects such as storing food, especially during harsh winters. In At The Gates, each turn represents a month, with spring, summer, and fall being crucial for construction, training, and stockpiling supplies. Winter, on the other hand, is a challenging time as foraging becomes nearly impossible, and your units’ health deteriorates if they do not have enough supplies.

The Challenge of Time Management

In At The Gates, losing units is not necessarily fatal. Dead clans are replaced, but you lose all their training and proficiency. This means that time is your most valuable resource. However, every important action in the game takes a significant amount of time, which can be frustrating. For example, training surveyors to find resources or crafting cloth requires multiple turns. This time constraint adds tension to the game, as you must balance the need for progress with the challenges posed by winter or enemy factions. Despite the slow pace, the constant threat of snowfall and the need to protect your clans from the cold keeps the game engaging.

More Than Just Combat

The combat aspect of At The Gates may not be as strong as its metagame design. Building a military force takes time and research, and battles are presented simply as animations between two units on a map. However, the game offers alternatives to pure military conquest, including diplomacy and an economic victory condition. You can focus on building economies based on specific resources, such as iron or crops. The procedurally generated nature of each game session adds variety, with different map layouts and starting clan attributes. You may find yourself in a well-endowed settlement or a challenging desert environment.

Crafting Compelling Stories

The unpredictability of procedurally generated game states often leads to compelling situations and stories. Forming alliances with other factions unlocks the ability to play as those factions in future sessions, as each faction has its own unique perks. This adds replayability and gives you something to work towards even when victory seems unlikely. At The Gates rewards careful planning and tactics, and the satisfaction of seeing your empire thrive is worth the initial learning curve.


  1. Can I focus on economic development rather than military conquest in At The Gates?

    • Yes, the game offers an economic victory condition and various ways to build a prosperous empire based on specific resources.
  2. How does the procedurally generated nature of the game affect gameplay?

    • Each game session is unique, with different maps, starting attributes, and available resources. This adds variety and replayability to the game.


At The Gates is a challenging strategy game that rewards careful planning and tactics. Its unique blend of strategy and RPG elements, along with the procedurally generated gameplay, create an engaging and immersive experience. While combat may not be the game’s strong suit, the focus on time management and resource allocation adds depth and tension. If you enjoy intellectually stimulating games that require strategic thinking, At The Gates is a must-play. Visit Wqaindia to learn more about this captivating strategy game.