At first glance, Imagine Earth has a lot in common with games like Civilization and Age of Wonders. Starting out with a simple tutorial, you’ll build a city centre, place farms to cultivate food, and build coal plants to harvest enough energy to keep everything running. Just like other games in the genre, you’ll find yourself building structures on a hex-based map and slowly expanding the borders of your territory. Once you set up a warehouse and a trading post, you’ll be able to mine gold dotted around the map, and sell minerals, resources, and gold pieces to merchants. While the tutorial is a great way to grasp the basics of the game, I did find it unclear in some places and overly descriptive in others. The interface can be a bit confusing too, but if you’re familiar with other strategy titles, you’ll be able to grasp the essentials quickly.
The game’s two main modes are campaign mode and competitive mode. While campaign mode sees you completing the game’s story and getting promoted from one planet onto the next, competition mode sees you competing with rival companies in a very similar format to Civilization or Humankind. There are competing AI colonies on the map, and the game features a mechanic where you can buy shares in your opponent’s companies, giving you the option of buying a rival company out of the game completely. In total, Imagine Earth features nine planets with very different biomes to explore, all of which are visually stunning and a delight.