Meridian: New World isn’t exactly the type of thing I would normally review here at Bricks of the Dead. It’s a sci-fi real-time strategy game with absolutely no horror elements, and certainly no zombies. So why am I talking about it? Well, if there’s one thing I like to do here, it’s support people who pour themselves into the things they love. That usually means indie authors self-publishing their horror novels, but not always. While Meridian: New World might look like it was developed for millions of dollars are a small studio, the shocking thing is that this is the product of a single person.
That’s right, Meridian was conceived of and developed by Ede Tarsoly over the course of about three years, although you’d never guess that by looking at it. This is a really, really nice looking game, and it’s unbelievable that it was made by one guy with a dream. Okay, okay, a few of his friends helped out with some game assets, but the vast majority of Meridian was the efforts of a single person. That’s impressive.
Of course, you can’t judge a game based on its development back-story. It has to be, you know, fun. So, does Meridian live up to that challenge? I’m happy to report that it absolutely does. I’ve logged a few hours into the game and, while it took me a little bit to really get into the game, once it started cooking, I was hooked.
The game’s campaign focuses on a conspiracy of sorts. The planet Meridian is the new great hope for humanity. It’s incredibly Earth-like, and ready to be colonized as mankind is finally able to spread out into the universe. You play the commander of the group sent to check out Meridian before the colonization can begin in earnest, but right as you were about to go home, things get violent.
Since this is an RTS game, things are mostly revolved with big set-piece battles and economy building. However, there’s also a clever meta-narrative that takes place between missions, where in you can explore your ship, interact with various crew members, and learn more about the universe. During these periods of downtime, you can start to unravel the mystery by questioning different characters and gathering evidence.
Of course, that’s only really true in the campaign, and I never really stick to the campaigns in these games. I essentially use the first few missions to learn the game’s units and rules, then switch over to random map skirmishes. That’s where these games really come together for me. I’m rarely interested in the story; I just love trying to build up my economy and holding off the bad guys long enough to bury the bad guys in superior technology. I take the same approach in every single game like this I play, and it never gets old. Thankfully, Meridian offers a fair bit of research and upgrades, both to your units and to yourself as the commander.
While I very much enjoyed Meridian, it does have its fair share of issues. The biggest one is that there is simply not a lot of variety to be had. You fight other factions, obviously, but everyone shares the same tech, units, and buildings, only differentiated by color scheme. There are also a few other irritants, especially in the campaign. My two big gripes there were unskippable scripted scenes, and sections were you have to hold off an obscene number of enemy waves trying to kill you.
I’m not sure if the game is going to be developed any further, but I really hope it is. Adding new units, buildings, and technology would do wonders to build out this game. Even if nothing more is added, Meridian is still very good, especially considering that it was produced largely by the efforts of a single person.