Respectably purple spy game Sigma Theory: Global Cold War was succesful last night in extracting a full release from the clutches of the early access hell slog. The futuristic cold war strategy game is out now.
I’m prone to grumbling about currently faddy neon-dominated art styles, but I dig Sigma Theory’s look. It looks like a less abstracted Frozen Synapse, and its shiny but non-sterile world seems fitting for a story about anticipating the AI singularity. The world is on the cusp of a revolutionary technological era, and you’re the boss of a special espionage force trying to place your country in the position to control how that pans out.
You do this by recruiting and secreting special agents around the world, aiming to dig up secrets, locate and purloin data and turn or outright kidnap talented nerds to work for you instead. There’s a big focus on diplomacy too, as you jostle with rival nations, manipulating or bullying or blackmailing them out of the way. You have practical concerns about moving your agents around and keeping them safe, and there’s nothing stopping enemies from turning your own people in kind.
Brave gamediver Steve Hogharty tested an early access version of the game back in April, and had a rather good time. “There’s a well written meta-game playing out as you research these paradigm-obliterating technologies too, which tackles some meaty themes of technophobia and the encroaching paranoia of the world’s superpowers,” he said, before demonstrating what sort of messes your actions can cause: “I sold advanced hypnosis tech to a military contractor and turned every country in the world into a dictatorial police state overnight, after I naively believed I’d only be helping a bunch of people get over their fear of flying.”
I’m intrigued by that setting. The concept of a cold war that isn’t just a retreading of the last one is rather novel, as is its savvy focus on securing technological leads rather than interpreting geopolitics as a traditional military excercise.