The Ottoman Empire was one of the most powerful Empires in not only in Turkish and Islamic history but the history of the world. It’s name comes from the first Ottoman ruler Osman who established the Sultanate. Its origins can be traced to one of the Beyliks established after the fall of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum ,which itself, had its own set of achievements.
The Ottomans expanded by seizing territory from the Byzantine Empire and other Beyliks, ultimately supplanting them as the power in the region. Their most well-known exploits include, implementation of gunpowder technology, subjugation of the Balkans and of course their harem of beautiful women from all around the world.
Their greatest achievement, however, which reverberates through Muslim history, is the conquest of Constantinople (which was then renamed Istanbul) from the Byzantines, and bringing an end to them completely.
Game of Sultans is a gaming title that takes you to this golden era of the Turks. It is an RPG Empire simulation game developed by a Chinese company, Mechanist Internet Technologies. It was released on 30, July, 2018. Since then it has climbed great heights or staying with the Ottoman theme, conquered many cities. It has over 10 Million downloads.
There is a lot of replication of recorded Ottoman ways and the Sultan’s (Ottoman and Muslim Rulers in that time called themselves, Maliks, Sultans and Shahs) personal customs and the game from the start remains true to the Ottoman theme. Erudite Viziers excelling in areas such as war, politics and creativity, game has that. A harem of attractive consorts who you, as the Sultan personally selects, the game has that. Extravagant marriages for your sons and daughters, the game has that. Raising an army, game has that. And of course you get to go on conquests. The game would be incomplete without that.
The first thing a player will see after the tutorial is a city with impressive Turkish architecture and a massive wall stretching across the edges of this city. It’s refreshing to see exotic architecture at the start and much better than seeing concrete-jungle architecture that we always see in New York or Chicago regularly. But wouldn’t you want to see something different after, say two months of constant play though?
And there are a huge number of icons on the top, right side and the left. Game of Sultans can be quite overwhelming at the start. Many players have rage-quitted the game after they could not get into the game at all with all these different icons (without it being explained what each one does). And the constant pay-walls do not help either.
Gold, grain and soldiers are the resources in this game. Gold is used to upgrade Viziers, grain to recruit soldiers and soldiers to attack enemies. These resources are gained from the Imperial Parliament where two advisers stand ready to guide you. But you aren’t told that one of these advisors helps levy and the other one gives you rewards like books, gold, experience and what not.
But as conventional wisdom dictates you would expect to earn these by building various structures or assigning villagers. But Game of Sultans focuses more on a RPG style, and you do not produce gold in gold prospectors, assign villagers to work at a grain farm, or manage the composition of your army which I feel would have enhanced the game.
Why give us resources we can harvest with a click of a button or armies whose composition we can’t change at will? It makes the game too simplified (only in this regard, the game can be complex for the beginner) and you can raise levies easily without a care for anything in the world. You can introduce these levies at a maximum of three at one time in the start at Young Sultan level I but you can either wait for a minute, use items to speed it up, or this can be upgraded later on as your Sultan levels up.
You also get rewards for completing objectives. The Objectives are indeed helpful. Without these objectives, the player would be near helpless at the start. It also gives the player specific goals to strive for.
Almost everything can be upgraded. Your character level can increase with the lowest being Young Sultan, and you work your way up to being a Grand Sultan. As you advance in level you can levy more gold, grain and troops at the same time.
Scrolls or XP books are also available that help level up your Viziers (Translates into a high official in English) attributes as well as overall level, just as there are ways to upgrade yourself, the Sultan. The Viziers have four attributes, military, research, politics and prestige and there are items to upgrade each. Or you can pay to get a head start.
This is the thing that annoyed me most about this game. There is a whopping price tag to get an huge advantage and some items are hidden behind a pay-wall. To say Game of Sultan’s is extremely exhortative is an understatement. A whopping 370 Dirhams can bring you an entire horde of items but a knowledgeable gamer would rather buy super-hit RPG games like Pillars of Eternity 2 and Diablo 3 that have more polish for less than quarter the price now.
At least the game doesn’t force you to pay to play but obviously those who do pay have a much better advantage than those who do not. Perplexingly people are buying packs (or victory chests) in Game of Sultans and the game is a super hit. To know where the magic is you have to expend time on the game and learn about it before you can get addicted to it.
But clearly it is the reward system for this game that makes it addictive for some users. The game is generous that way and you get rewards every time you login, at least at the start. And there are even more ways to reward you, for example the divination can shower some useful items just for a cup of coffee.
Another element of this game is that you get to customize your sons and daughters and arrange marriages for them or advance them in other ways. However this is unlocked later in the game and you have to play regularly to unlock new features.
But the game gets stale very quickly because the system gets very repetitive. Yes you can unlock new parts of the city as you go, but after that you are endlessly doing the same things over and over. Take the levies for example. You will be spending a lot of time levying. And leveling up your Viziers. Finally the only battles are attacking castle after castle.
In these battles, which only seem to revolve around attacking castles (In reality battles could occur on open, woody or hilly ground, river crossings, the sea or even on the streets of cities) where the castles themselves aren’t even shown (They show you a wall and most battles take part in front of it except the last one of each castle attack, where you bring cannons and attack archers behind the wall. You have no control over battle tactics). There are also one on one fights between your Vizier and the enemy commander. That is all the war-making that is in this game.
Clearly I would have preferred it if I was allowed to choose the composition of my force, their stance, their formation and test different strategies for battle. Instead you have no power over battles and the only solution is having a large army. You will easily get through these campaign battles, at least at the start, by spamming the levies button in the Imperial Parliament and then choosing the castle you want to attack from the campaign menu.
But the most important upgrade would be some way, even minor, to upgrade your army and the game does not allow that either. For a game where conquest and leveling up your Sultan are the goals (Your Sultan will gain experience from attacking castles), the inability to build and manage an army makes this game quite uninteresting for me. Instead of focusing so much on leveling up the Sultan, your heirs and having an endless horde of items, Mechanist could have worked on making the battles more engaging by adding some form of strategy or tactics within them.
Court flirtations too seem like a useless addition and this part of the game only works because of the imaginary women you get to romance with, which some people obviously dig. It certainly makes men, who usually sit behind computer screens, feel good about themselves, so that could be the rationale behind why this section is so successful.
At least there is no objectionable content within the game and the women are (relatively) well clad. If it weren’t the case it would have annoyed more pious players from the region where this game has been most successful (Turkey and the Middle East)
Then there are the chat rooms where all kinds of vulgarity and bullying is said to take place. I didn’t notice it much because everyone was talking in Turkish, Arabic or other languages so there’s no way to confirm this but this is what a lot of negative comments about this game have mentioned. I will have to confirm this so I will not include it as a negative point.
Anyway, despite the limitations like lack of control over battles, repetitive gameplay and extreme extortion policies, the best thing about this game is that it replicates the ways of the Ottoman rulers. Even the names of consorts and Viziers are, for the most part, real Turkish names. The soundtrack is also Turkish and the one for battles conspicuously stands out. The reward system also keeps players engaged.
This game is exotic because it gives you the opportunity to not only play as an Ottoman Sultan but also experience the Ottoman traditions of the past. Turkey may have come a long way since then, with Ataturk’s tolerant and secular legacy, but it would surely feel good for Turks to witness their own history despite the Ottoman Empire having a different ideology. Even if you are not Turkish (The game is most downloaded in Turkey and the Middle East) you can still get a feel of what it is like being a (Muslim?) Sultan.
Here it is specially reviewed for Eid season and if you want to try a history based game with some form of Muslim or Turkish theme this Eid, do try it. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea though, nor the best game out there.
Review Platform: Android
- Congenial reward system
- Lets you play as the Ottomans and experience their old ways.
- Good ways to upgrade your Sultan, Viziers and children.
- Impressive Turkish architecture shown on the main city map.
- Turkish themed music. The battle music is the best.
- Lack of control over battles. You can’t chose any tactics, formations and attack style. Instead you rely on numbers to win.
- Extortionate game.
- Doesn’t properly explain what all those icons do and is overwhelming for the beginner.