Review: Cradle of Rome

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: E - Everyone
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: Match 3
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2007
Review Published On: December 30th, 2017
Played on: Martha & Thaddeus

Available from:

Gamer's Gate, Steam

Save System:

You'll never have to worry about losing progress, as your game is saved in your own profile whenever you quit.

To pause, press the menu button or hit ESC.

Summary of
Major Issues:

The only real issue with the content in this game comes from it being based around ancient Rome -- that is, you'll be building monuments to the Roman gods and eventually join them on Mount Olympus.


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A typical level

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Building the Pantheon

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Welcoming a new citizen

Game Overview

Cradle of Rome is a fairly by the book Match 3 game. The main twist is that as you match the various tiles, you collect resources to assist you in building the Roman Empire from the ground up. At first, the mighty empire is nothing more than barren land, making your first goal to build a small farming community. As time goes on, your influence and wealth increases, allowing you to become a greater power in the region. However, you don't command troops, manage taxes, or anything like you'd see in a city management game. You just provide the infrastructure, and the world moves on around you.

In each level, you're tasked with clearing a grid of marble plaques. To do this, you simply make a match over the plaques you want to clear. As you progress, things will become a little more challenging as tiles are tied down with chains, hidden by crates, or prevented from accessing part of the grid by locks. Eventually you'll be dealing with tiles tied up by double chains and you'll need to clear two matches to remove a marble plaque.

Along the way, you'll gain access to eight different powerups. These are charged up the same way you gather resources, and once fully powered, they can clear tiles, remove obstacles, alter the playing area, or just give you some additional time or resources.

Overall, this is quiet little game that's good for any fan of Match 3 games.

Points of Interest

Powerups are easily earned and used
Once you've purchased the building that unlocks a specific powerup, you'll start seeing it during the levels like the other tiles. Clear enough of its tiles and it will become available for use. Some of the longer levels give you enough time to let you use and recharge a powerup multiple times. Additionally, while many games end up with worthless items or powerups, each powerup in this game is useful in its own way.
100 levels to complete
Each level has its own unique grid layout. As mentioned above, the earlier levels are fairly easy and get you familiar with the game's mechanics, while the levels towards the end of the game are much more involved. I would hesitate to call them difficult however, as the combination of useful powerups and simple design limit how hard the levels can become.

Another interesting bit about the level design is that the backgrounds change to reflect the development of the city. They begin with woodland scenes, and as your city becomes an empire, they shift to elaborate palace rooms and temples.
Almost too easy
Probably the harshest complaint about this title is that you'll breeze through many of the levels with little trouble. The Match 3 gameplay makes it simple enough to move tiles where you need them, so unless a level has a particularly tricky layout, you may never run out of time. Even if you do, you'll end up with a surplus of extra lives, allowing you to ignore any real problems that develop.

Of course, one of the things that really lowers the difficulty is the star powerup. It clears every tile of a specific type from the board, including tiles that are locked behind chains. Since you can use and recharge it repeatedly in a single level, few obstacles can hold you back.
Unknown conditions
You can unlock special citizens to go with many of the buildings. These citizens assist you by giving you extra supplies or enhancing the way your powerups work. Unfortunately, you're only told that a citizen can move in; you're not told what you need to do to earn them.

Concerns and Issues

Roman religion
Since this game is based around ancient Rome, it's not very surprising to see that there are references to the various Roman gods and goddesses. This includes their monuments and places of worship. Fortunately, this is mostly there for flavor; you don't actively use of these buildings or interact with the deities yourself.

However, the Romans believed that their Emperors were gods themselves, and once you make it far enough in this game, you end up ascending to godhood and joining the rest of the gods on Mount Olympus.