It looked too good to be true, but it's real, and it's playable: Meridian is now available on Steam (Early Access), and it's pretty much everything it promised to be.
It said it'd be a traditional RTS, and it sure is. This is every bit a StarCraft and Command & Conquer kind of RTS, all about resource collection, mass armies and a quick mouse finger.
It promised to looks gorgeous, and it is. For such a small development team, things are looking crisp and colourful, and there's a surprising amount of detail on the units (though sadly they look a bit samey).
It promised custom maps, and even now, with the game only fresh in Early Access, there are new and varied maps to download for skirmish battles.
One last thing it promised, and one which I was dubious about at announcement, was the presence of Mass Effect-style "chat with the crew" sequences. How was that going to work in an RTS?
It could have taken inspiration from StarCraft II, and simply had you click around some static screens, but Meridian does something a little cooler, and gives you a player avatar that you can stroll around the halls of your base/ship, visiting various areas and talking with the crew between missions, sometimes for critical decisions, sometimes just to shoot the shit. It's a nice, personal touch, even if it's not quite as entertaining as it could be.
How much you get out of Meridian really depends on what you're expecting. This is not a blockbuster entertainment spectacle full of top-shelf writing and engaging characters. Nor is it a reinvention of the RTS genre. It's an old-school game for those who prefer their strategy old-school, something for folks who wish Command & Conquer hadn't been driven into the ground, or that Blizzard made their StarCraft games faster.
Meridian is $US15 on Steam.