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This hybrid RTS citybuilder has big ideas, big hordes, and an even bigger sky laser

Diplomacy Is Not An Option is proper magic

It's been a long time since I've found an RTS that recaptures the many hours I spent playing Warcraft 2 growing up, but Diplomacy Is Not An Option gets pretty darn close. I've been playing the hybrid citybuilder/tower defence game's demo this week, and those long forgotten memories of building row upon row of archer towers to nuke incoming orcs, defending my town hall and sending my little workers out to fish, mine and chop wood all came flooding back. Only here, those enemy armies come in waves of increasing size. Fortunately, in addition to the standard sword and bow folk at your disposal, you've also got a bit of magic - including a big fat giant sky laser. Count me in.

Cover image for YouTube videoDiplomacy is Not an Option. Early Access announcement trailer #1

Alas, I never got far enough in the demo to unlock the sky laser (or Astral Ray, as it's called in-game), but you can see it in action in the video down below. And man alive, it sure looks like it will come in handy against the ever-swelling hordes coming to attack your town.

It's a surprisingly similar kind of rhythm to the recently released Tribes Of Midgard, just without the faff of having to gather resources yourself. Instead, you sit above the action in classic citybuilder fashion, deciding where to plonk down everything from berry picking tents, fishing huts and builder workshops to hospitals, cemetries, grave diggers, granaries and houses to help grow your town.

Cover image for YouTube videoDiplomacy is Not an Option. Some magic

Despite its blocky, low-poly art style, there's a pleasing sense of detail to Diplomacy Is Not An Option, and it's easy to tell at a glance what everything is. Your map also tells you exactly what direction the next horde wave is coming from, giving you ample time to prepare and fortify the right part of your settlement. Fortunately, the other enemy camps scattered around the map won't attack you unless provoked, giving you a bit of breathing room while you make preparations to take them on.

It's worth pushing out to tackle these camps between big raids, though. Clearing them not only gives you more room to expand your own sprawling settlement, but enemies will also drop blue crystals you can use to power your magical abilities. I never reached sky laser level, but I was able to summon spectral knights who could help bolster my human forces for a limited time.

With enough time, effort and resources, buildings and fortifications can also be upgraded and made stronger - and as you can probably tell from the screenshot below, you're definitely going to need a strong managerial head on your shoulders, because some of these hordes are MASSIVE. Properly enormous (and no doubt why Door 407 are giving you a big whacking sky laser to play with to help thin the crowds).

Hordes of soldiers fight in a giant battle in Diplomacy Is Not An Option

Still, even though the game's astral beam is probably far out of reach for me right now, the demo's endless mode has already convinced me this is one to watch for budding citybuilders looking for a nice wodge of extra tower defence challenge. So why not try it a go for yourself?

Diplomacy Is Not An Option is due to hit early access on Steam on January 26th 2022.

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Katharine Castle avatar

Katharine Castle


Katharine is RPS' editor-in-chief, which means she's now to blame for all this. After joining the team in 2017, she spent four years in the RPS hardware mines. Now she leads the RPS editorial team and plays pretty much anything she can get her hands on. She's very partial to JRPGs and the fetching of quests, but also loves strategy and turn-based tactics games and will never say no to a good Metroidvania.