It’s 5 in the morning and you’re sitting in your bunk when the bugle sounds. Sarge wants a crack team of specialists to liberate a supply of cabbages from the clutches of the evil Dragan. This isn’t a Saturday morning cartoon, this is One Military Camp.
Players take on the role of a general for an army with vaguely American nationality and no purpose save to liberate the area from the clutches of Dragan, a campy villain that mixes the aesthetics of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union into the ultimate narrative punching bag.
It won’t be an easy task though! Dragan has commanders under his banner and the only one small region stands between Dragan and total conquest.
One Military Camp
Developer: Abylight Barcelona
Publisher: Abylight Studios
Platforms: Microsoft Windows (Reviewed)
Release Date: July 20, 2023
We’ve managed theme parks, guided vikings to the peaks of Valhalla, and used giant furnaces to save what’s left of humanity. The City Builder genre remains as versatile as ever and running a military base should come as no surprise.
Graphically you can see what you’re getting with One Military Camp. This isn’t some high-end realistic milsim, this is a cartoonish parody of an actual military base and that’s what’s needed here.
The style of the game is cartoonish but that just makes it easier to take in all the information going on, an important ability for a City Builder. Animations are fluid and the NPCs are fluid and expressive.
I do wish there was a native FPS cap setting however, the graphics aren’t intense but it’s stressful to hear all my computer fans kick on because the game arbitrarily wants to run at like 190FPS. But that’s a problem that can be fixed with a program… probably.
Underneath the cartoon art style is a surprising amount of depth. Market prices, territory control, defense, even noise pollution. A lot of thought and planning goes into running a smooth military base.
The layout of your base is just the beginning. Soldiers will have to be guided to training that fits the specializations you need, adding a bit of extra work to fill all your specialist positions with viable soldiers.
The game also warns you when placing buildings to consider things like roads, power, and the various noise levels caused by buildings. Noise forces you to be a bit creative with your base layout, since you want barracks and housing to be close enough to where the occupants work, but far enough from all the noise caused by entertainment and training facilities.
All of these different facets of gameplay are at your finger tips with an intuitive UI and in-game notifications when something needs your attention.
So with all of this information, what do we do with it? Well we train up our soldiers and head to the frontlines via helicopter.
Missions will become available near the end of the tutorial, these missions require a healthy roster of soldiers ready for action.
It’s an easy to understand system with one problem, it’s so busy. Recruits have to be added, housed, and cared for with support staff, which is all fine and dandy. But then you have to manually steer their career path.
It’s fine to have a nuanced level of control, but on the other hand it feels like the real game is as much spreadsheet simulator as city builder sometimes. Recruit, assign to a building, assign a career goal, juggle notifications for when they need reassigned to a different building to further their career goal, rinse, repeat.
By the time I only had about 25 recruits I was a little irritated at how much hands-on management was needed. Not enough to impact my enjoyment of the game, but enough that I was trying to do everything at once. I hired recruits in batches and quickly played catch up with my infrastructure; I watched the notifications in the top left like a hawk to fill out my ranks.
Once I mentally optimized the process of managing recruits I managed to cool my head a bit and appreciate the level of control. But, on the other hand I feel like it’s something that could have been better with more automation.
The writing is shamelessly silly and I love it. The villain, is like a G.I. Joe bad guy and the plot points are ridiculous. We see one of Dragan’s commanders ordering the oppressed people of her territory to cut down the flowers because of her allergies, and in the first mission of the tutorial we literally rescue a region’s cabbage supply.
The protagonists are equally silly and the very first guy we meet is a cliche drill sergeant who loves his country, loves his soup, and hates Dragan, simple as.
Ultimately, One Military Camp is a fantastic city builder for all-ages; and I really mean all-ages. It has enough depth for most players to feel like they’re accomplishing things, but also the cartoonish aesthetic and direct controls make it an ideal game for parents who want to introduce the genre to their children.
The humor is a bit random, but that just puts it on par with children’s cartoons and a few jokes are silly enough to get a laugh out of a grumpy thirty-something like me.
If you’re after a grueling challenge then this might not be the game for you, but with a fun and campy plot, enough mechanics that the game requires some thought, you’ll probably have fun whether you’re new to the genre or a city building veteran looking for something a little more relaxing.