Toward the end of 2020 publisher Dotemu announced it was collaborating with developer Triskell Interactive to remake classic Ancient-Egypt-themed city builder Pharaoh for a modern era, and now, following a bit of a delay for the project, fans can put the upgraded version through its paces in a newly released Steam demo.
The original Pharaoh, developed by isometric city builder supremos Impressions Games, released in 1999 and gave players the opportunity to participate in fifteen centuries of Ancient Egyptian history, beginning by establishing nomad settlements and slowly flexing their management muscles to create and maintain bustling cities as its campaign progressed.
At first, that merely means ensuring the population’s basic needs are met in classic city building fashion – plopping down a logistically solid network of housing, roads, and simple amenities – but Pharaoh grows steadily more complex, extending its management systems out to include the likes of economy, trade, health, agriculture, education, culture, religion, and warfare.
An expansion pack, Cleopatra: Queen of the Nile, released the following year, taking the main campaign even further, into the Hellenistic period.
As for Dotemu’s remake, officially titled Pharaoh: An New Era, it’ll include all 50 playable campaign missions seen in the original and expansion, as well as a sandbox mode, plus a map and mission editor – all given a makeover with completely overhauled visuals and soundtrack, a new UI, plus gameplay tweaks intended to bring the original up to “modern standards”.
It’s a makeover I’ve had my eye on for some time, and Dotemu is finally given players the opportunity to try out Pharaoh’s gently massaged city building action across several campaign missions in a newly released demo – whose arrival coincides with Steam’s latest Next Fest, meaning there’s a reasonable chance it’ll disappear at the end of the event on 28th February.
There’s currently no release date for the complete version of Pharaoh: A New Era but, following its delay out of 2021, Dotemu said it was now targeting a launch some time this year.