Sierra's classic city builder returns next month with Pharaoh: A New Era

Those of us of a certain age—or with a certain impeccable taste—will be interested to hear that Pharaoh: A New Era has finally gotten a release date. A remake of Sierra's 1999 city-builder Pharaoh (and its expansion Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile), the game promises a slick and prettied-up new version of the old classic when it releases on February 15.

The remake boasts over 50 playable missions, 100 hours of gameplay, and 4000 years of Egyptian history, alongside all the usual bells and whistles like 4K resolutions and a UI parseable by mortal eyes. The devs at Triskell have even taken the original soundtrack and rearranged it with "traditional oriental instruments". It's the same old Pharaoh gameplay, though: You'll have to juggle all sorts of weighty responsibilities to make sure your city doesn't crumble into the sand dunes, like "the economy, internal and external trade, culture, health, agriculture, education," plus the flooding of the Nile and the literal Plagues of Egypt.

So it can be pretty tough, which is only in keeping with the spirit of the original. When Lorna Reid dove back into the original Pharaoh for PCG, she remarked that "Quaint and lovely though it looks, when you shove the lid off the game’s sarcophagus, you’ll find it has a nastier streak than Imhotep," ready to "devour your time and stretch your patience to breaking point". Sign me up.

For those without a masochistic streak, though, there's a free build mode, and the option to turn off predators and other unpleasant things that might hamper your empire-building. A bit more relaxing, but I reckon it lacks the frisson generated by the constant threat of your city catching fire.

If the thought of either a trial by Biblical fire or a sedate, Egyptian Cities: Skylines appeals, you can keep an eye on Pharaoh: A New Era over on Steam.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.