Oasis, by Mind Control Software, is a turn-based strategy game drawing inspiration from the likes of Civilization and Age of Empires. Instead of playing one campaign for weeks on end, Oasis condenses all of the same strategy goodness into short, three-minute levels. These small rounds play a larger role in the story arc. The steep learning curve has been removed to allow anyone to get hooked on a strong dose of gaming fun.
You play the future Scarab King whose father has been murdered. Egypt has fallen into chaos and an evil fog covers the land. Your job is to lift this fog, gather followers and rebuild your empire to defend against the barbarian hordes. Along the way you'll discover many remnants of the great civilization and be able to use them against your enemies.
The game takes place in a traditional overhead view and everything is handled by pointing and clicking with the mouse (with optional but rather pointless keyboard control). All civilization managing details have been simplified into a system of turns. Each level has 85 turns, at the end of which barbarians attack. During this time you must balance your strategy between defending the cities you find, uncovering land, gaining followers, and finding the hidden oasis where the magical obelisk resides.
Just like any strategy title, Oasis lets you gain technological advancements. You don't have to worry about adjusting stats or anything of the sort, simply have some followers start working in the mines. The technology bar at the bottom of the screen shows your progress. You can also find advisors, treasures and more goodies that will tempt your attention away from defending your empire.
Analysis: Oasis successfully reproduces the strategy game formula without bogging itself down with lengthy or complex gameplay. It's a light and refreshing experience to have shorter levels, and yet the sense of strategy and discovery has not been diluted.
The overall story arc is a little weak, however, and after playing a few levels I felt like I was playing an arcade game rather than a strategy title. Oasis walks a fine line between the two, and sometimes I wasn't sure which it wanted to be. The identity crisis is a small one and the end result is a very polished and rewarding experience that anyone can jump right into. I've always been a fan of the Civilization series, but the time commitment became too great when life intercedes. Oasis is a good replacement.