2004 IGF Independent Game of the Year Winner
2004 IGF Winner, Innovation in Game Design
Game Tunnel's 2005 Independent Game of the Year
Oasis is, at its core, a highly original casual game--but with strong crossover appeal to strategy gamers. In some ways, our site is where it belongs, probably more so than at, say, Yahoo! Games.
Like most casual games, it's very easy to pick up and play, and you play it basically with one button--just click on the map to explore dark squares, build roads, assign workers to mines, etc.
But the way it plays reminds us of "Eurogames," the genre of adult boardgames that's gaining increasing popularity worldwide (and mostly come out of Germany). In other words, it plays quickly, but every choice you make is important, and has a real impact on the outcome.
There's another reason we like Oasis: It was developed by two old school game developers whose work we greatly admire--Andy Leker (Skyrealms of Jorune, Alien Logic, Silencer, Resurrection) and Marc LeBlanc (Thief, System Shock). These guys know exactly what they're doing, and it's no surprise that when they turn their hand to developing a casual game, they come up with something beautiful and original instead of another twist on the "pick three" paradigm.
How's It Work?
At the end of each level, a horde of barbarians will show up and attempt to destroy all your cities. Before then, you must set up your defenses as effectively as you can; the more of your cities and population you save, the more you'll score for the level.
Each level is a randomly generated map--and initially only one or a handful of squares on the map are revealed. You can reveal them by clicking on hidden squaures adjacent to places you've already explored. Most explorations add small numbers of people to placeable population--some terrain types more others. You want to find all your cities--then link them via roads by clicking on explored squares to build roads there.
In addition, some squares have mines; you can assign some of your population to exploit them. Each turn (that is, click), mines with workers work to improve your technology, which gives you benefits in the inevitable battle; however, workers aren't themselves available to fight at that time. So it's a tradeoff. Starting work on mines early in the level is almost always worthwhile--but doing it late is probably not.
You have a limited number of clicks; when you've used them, you have a few moments to prepare for the barbarian invasion. If you're lucky, you've uncovered the "cairns" where they show up; they head for the nearest city first, so one strategy is to concentrate as much of your population as you can at that city, to defend the rest of your empire.
There are a lot of other little aspects, too--nomad encampment squares provide extra population, and discovering Pharaoah's monument and surrounding lake is worth extra points. Basically, every click can benefit you in some way--but optimizing what you click and when in order to maximize your score and chance of defeating the barbarians isn't easy. There's a tradeoff for everything you do.
Good simple fun.