Gogogic is prepping their real-time-strategy PvP hybrid tactics MMOG Godsrule through closed beta and they gave us at GameOgre access to play. The front page paints an idyllic picture of an MMORTS game with glowing, cartoonish graphics, big-bad-monsters and all the glory that comes with being a god vying for the control of a new untouched land.

As a game, it’s billed directly as cross-platform and that means that it’s a Flash-based browser game (it’ll even run on the iPad.)

It’s a fairly good looking MMO with all the right parts of a hardcore-casual RTS game. While most of it does have everything you’d expect from a Flash-based RTS game, it does kick the style up a little with actual action in the battlegrounds (no card flipping or fights on its own for Godsrule.) As a result, it has something that many of the other MMOs in this market don’t have at the moment.

It’s a good looking game with a lot of polish. It’s still in closed beta, so there’s obvious rough edges here and there; but here’s a look at what you can probably expect from the final product.

Graphics and Sound: Flash-based browser game with strong fantasy elements ahoy!

Godsrule runs in a web browser powered as a Flash application so it’s good that it’s an MMORTS styled game, but it works well with the limitations inherent with that type of platform. Keeping that in mind, one of the selling points for Gogogic is that the game is “cross-platform.” This is true: If the platform can run a browser that will launch Adobe Flash Godsrule will run.

The first thing I noticed about the graphics is that it’s somewhat cartoonish. This is a fantasy-styled game and that’s not a problem at all—in fact the visual motif is vivid and colorful. The first things that I get greeted with are the region that I’ll place my village. Like every civilization-building RTS, I must raise a city, construct buildings, collect resources, and train troops. All of this is easily identified from the moment that I’m in game.

The UI is good, the icons are obvious and I didn’t have any trouble picking out how to move forward and where to go to look for certain functions.

Absolutely no qualms on the graphics or how the game functioned—and for those so interested, there’s even a full-screen mode.

Sounds are extremely minimal. Right now I’m listening to two looped sounds in my village: the gentle crash of the surf and someone hammering and sawing (I’m upgrading a building.) In battle there’s sounds for summoning, for combat, and the death of summoned monsters—there’s even an odd warning sound when something finishes building or I need to attend to the game. The background music is subdued, but epic, rising string-orchestra that fades in and out from time to time. Nothing that really bothers me.

Overall, there’s also a way to kill the background sounds (kills music also) or kill all sound entirely.

Gameplay: MMORTS with some action-combat summoner combat

From the outset, as I said above, Godsrule is very much an obvious MMORTS. Any veteran of a Flash MMORTS will know exactly where to go and what to do. For the rest, there’s a fully functional tutorial, including a quest-system that guided me to do particular things to bolster my troops, build my village, and clear brush by offering rewards to continue playing.

When it comes to building and troop training, though, the game definitely falls into the hardcore casual: everything takes time. Initially buildings and upgrades will take mere minutes, but quickly they shamble into the realm of waiting an hour or more just to upgrade village space. Of course, this feeds into the monetization of the game enabling people to “quick build” by burning the for-pay currency to get things done faster.

The place where Godsrule starts to diverge from them standard MMORTS is the combat system. Most people used to Flash games will be familiar with a card-based combat system that either runs itself, or involves a small puzzle combat. As for Godsrule, though, it’s full on real-time tactics across a battlefield where I had to actually pay attention to my summons, keep them in motion, and maintain them in conflict. Battles in Godsrule work by summoning minions (troops to the field) and then clicking on them to select them and send them forth. They’ll automatically engage enemy units that get close enough and can go down really fast if they’re not supported. The win condition is usually about beating down all the enemy units; but there’s also battle maps that require capturing a relic or a center point—that would be the PvP portion of the game.

The MMO aspects of the game is that it contains a great deal of multiplayer PvP. With two primary factions vying for the world map it’s necessary to land on and take arenas on that map. As the factions battle, the color of the different sections changes—it’s red vs. blue basically. The battles are fairly simple if there’s no enemy player to defend the map, just cut down the bees or bugs or whatever happen to inhabit the space and capture the relic. If there was an enemy player things got really dicey; especially if they were willing to deploy lots of troops to kick me back to the mainland.

I got my teeth kicked in more than once.

In fact, watching the world map, it’s possible for me to see when an enemy is making a landing in an arena and go there myself to hassle them or make it harder for them to earn a victory.

Freemium: Godsrule is the standard hardcore-casual MMORTS monetization

The freemium currency is orbs and they run about 10¢ an orb (at their highest price, there’s bulk discounting.) Orbs can be used to buy a variety of quality-of-life services in the game including speed-ups for building, production of resources, and clearing the land. There’s also automatic resource collection services.

The rest go for customization such as personalized emblems, taunts, and titles that can be attached to the player. All of which are pretty standard for any given MMORTS game.

Very little room for pay-to-win here, except perhaps that people who pay money will recover faster than those who do not from costly battles. They’ll also be able to set up and get going a lot more quickly than the very casual. It’s a time vs. money question when it comes to monetization. The closest that it can get is that “tokens” can be bought, these items permit a players to gamble for resources, troops, and other useful items in the game.

Conclusion: This is a triple-A quality browser-based MMORTS if I’ve seen one yet

Godsrule is the ultimate hardcore-casual MMORTS across all accounts; but what really might make it a good game for casual players is that it’s bid for a cross-platform role in the MMORTS community. As a Flash-based browser game it’ll be able to capture an audience of people who might want to play at home between chores, or at work during lunch, on a tablet or other mobile device (the click-to-act mechanic doesn’t require anything but tapping after all.)

The game is currently in beta, so there aren’t very many people playing—although as I noticed, those who are did manage to hand me my rump more than once. There’s a chat bar on the side for people who want to socialize while they wait for buildings to build and battles to start. Once this place starts filling up, no doubt the factions will be overflowing with chatter about strategy, blood, and guts.

The combination of click-to-strike and spells for the combat elements do help break up the monotony of the building and preparation portion of the game. I like that.

Oh, for anyone who is wondering. This game runs quite well on a Chromebook–it is a Flash-based application, after all.