EMPIRE OF SIN
PC Gamer US Edition|January 2021
A new boss is in town to take over the forgotten gangster sim genre
Robert Zak

NEED TO KNOW

RELEASE December 1, 2020

DEVELOPER Romero Games

PUBLISHER Paradox Interactive

LINK empireofsingame.com

I don’t know exactly what it was that caused five different gangs to go to war with me at once. Maybe envy, maybe my aggressive expansion into the wrong neighborhoods, or maybe the fact that I allowed the cops to use one of my speakeasies as a hangout in exchange for some leniency from the law.

The sudden surge of chaos felt like a real Paradox touch, where your seemingly stable empire can quickly fall into disarray due to a complex and clever web of systems underpinning AI behavior. Given that developer Romero Games brought on Paradox veteran Chris King as a designer for this glitzy Prohibition-era gangster sim, I should have expected no less.

But despite the onslaught that’s seeing my whiskey barrels and ladies of the night slip through my fingers into the ravenous maws of my rivals, I’m delighted. As a fan of the quintessential organized crime sim from the ’90s, Gangsters: Organized Crime, I’ve long been waiting for a worthy successor to step into its spats, and Empire of Sin could prove to be it.

Lead designer Brenda Romero doesn’t have answers for why the old-timey gangster theme has been largely neglected in strategy games, but has been dreaming of making this game for 20 years. “I’ve definitely been on the edge of my seat a few times when games were announced that took place during this time or broach this theme,” she admits. As luck would have it, the few gangster sims in the years since Gangsters: Organized Crime have all failed to quite deliver on the crime management fantasy.

With Paradox as a publisher, Romero Games has a benefactor with unparalleled insight into the strategy genre. “No one knows strategy as well as Paradox,” Romero tells me. “They’ve been excellent in giving us the support needed to get Empire of Sin done.”

CRIME PAYS

I got to sit down for a few hours with the game, putting me in charge of Dean O’Banion—one of several real-life mobsters you can play as. Other famous faces include Al Capone and Daniel ‘Funeral Director’ McKee Jackson.

Each boss has their own dialogue, personality traits, and specialities. In Dean’s case, he gets cheaper upkeep of breweries and speakeasies but, lacking the gift of gab, has a penalty when coming to agreements with other bosses.

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