Age of Empires 4 is certainly a masterful strategy game. Start out with just a few villagers and gather resources, build out your city, explore the horizons, scout out your rival factions, and eventually prepare for grand-scale combat to claim your rightful place as the victor. But while the historical battlefields of humanity are certainly interesting, don’t you sometimes wish you could inject a little more anime into the action? Enter The Touhou Empires, a new RTS game doing just that, with a score from beloved Dark Souls and Elden Ring composer Yuka Kitamura to help bring the thrill of battle to life. With a free demo out now as part of Steam Next Fest, this is a combination you have to see for yourself.
The Touhou Empires blends the core fundamentals of gameplay long-established by Age of Empires, among the most well-liked and best strategy games on PC, with characters from the popular Touhou Project series. If you’re anime-curious but unfamiliar with Touhou, it began in the ‘90s as a series of bullet hell shoot-em-ups created by solo developer Jun’ya ‘ZUN’ Ota, and has developed into a sprawling franchise that’s still active today.
The fundamentals of The Touhou Empires will immediately be familiar to Age of Empires players – you start out controlling hero units Reimu and Marisa, with a small shrine surrounded by worker fairies ready to do your bidding. Send them out to gather resources including wood, crystals, and wine, and then use those to build first additional housing, then facilities to train combat units, and eventually more powerful upgrades and defensive structures such as walls and towers to secure your base.
I spent some time with the demo and found it to be responsive in exactly the ways you’d hope for – most controls are handled with a simple ‘left click to select, right click to move’ setup, there are hotkeys to construct buildings and recruit units on the fly, and you can set up the likes of spawn waypoints so that new units will immediately get to work.
With many more characters from the Touhou Project series to discover, each with their trademark spell cards giving them unique abilities to use during battle, and specific specializations for each of the various factions, there’s certainly plenty going on in The Touhou Empires.
The Touhou Empires demo is out now on Steam as part of Steam Next Fest, which runs until Monday February 12. You can head over to the game’s store page to download it and add it to your wishlist if it tickles your fancy.