Meridian: Squad 22 Steam Early Access Review

Meridian: Squad 22 is a game crafted solely by one man. Let that sink in for a moment.

Ede Tarsoly single handedly crafted all elements of Meridian and with knowing this before playing I did not expect to enjoy the well-rounded RTS experience that I did.

Meridian: Squad 22 is a base building sci-fi RTS, a sequel to 2014’s Meridian: New World which received mixed reviews on steam namely regarding the developers choice to focus on the sequel when players felt the original wasn’t yet finished. Yet now we have the sequel, albeit on Steam’s Early Access, and if you’ve ever played Command and Conquer you’ll know what to expect.

The story pits you 1000 years into the future where the Earth has become so overpopulated that colony ships are sent to find new worlds. They find planet Meridian and low and behold they lose communication with ground control. Squad 22 is then sent to investigate.

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Takes me right back to C & C days.

Missions are initially fairly standard fare for a base building RTS: mine, build, mine, deploy troops, mine, build, mine, attack. Yet eventually the game gives you more choice on how to approach a situation, giving multiple routes based on offensive or defensive tactics which prompts researching different abilities in turn encouraging replayability.

Although the base building aspects don’t really break any new ground it is refreshing to have a single player focused base builder running current gen visuals. Speaking of which, to say one man crafted this beautiful game is again commendable, the game looks gorgeous; the textures are detailed and the overall design is colourful and fun to look at.

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Battles can take place at land, sea or sky.

Unfortunately Meridian: Squad 22 does have its flaws. In each level you are assigned at least one ‘hero’ character that have their own dialogue and abilities. The problem with the ‘heroes’ is as soon as either of they die the game is over. Now, considering they seem to die just as quickly as other troops I found myself not using them in battle and instead keeping them back at base with units to protect them in case of a surprise attack. This is surely not the intended use and it felt more like having civilians to protect rather than heroes to aid me in battle.

The biggest gripe for me personally was the inability to select all units. I found nothing in the game settings to let me assign a key to select all units and scouring internet forums didn’t help me either, this single flaw meant the game often felt a lot more tedious than it should have. Finally the AI seemed rather useless at times, often I would engage the enemy only for my troops to stop at the first sight of the enemy, kill them and then fail to advance any further towards the other enemy stood right next to the one I had just slain. These issues although seemingly small had a lasting negative impact on my enjoyment of the game.

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The Sci-Fi look is nothing new, but it does look good.

Although the majority of Meridian felt like a game taken straight out of the 90’s and given a graphical overhaul, the research tree was implemented in a fresh way. The choices you make in terms of research stay with you for the duration of the campaign, so choosing to focus your research points on air ships may mean that when you later encounter a sea focused battle you’ll be at a loss. In order to gain more points to progress through the research tree you’ll need to scour the map searching for research canisters that you can spend to level up the corresponding element of the skill tree. This gave the game an additional layer of strategy as rather than focusing simply on the level at hand you were also planning elements of your future battles.

Aside from the campaign, there is the option for ‘Squad Missions’ that, at the time of writing are not yet available, and finally there is a conquest mode that tasks you with focusing on a hexagonal grid as you progress with a new stripped down research tree, this mode is the closest thing to a  skirmish mode the game boasts.

Meridian: Squad 22 is not without its problems, though it is currently in early access and all of the issues it does have can be easily rectified. If that were the case this would be one of the most refreshing base building real time strategy games in a long time. Though as it stands right now I would recommend waiting until the full release unless you’re happy to look past its flaws.

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