Strategy, trade and empire building on the old Silk Road. Spice Road is a town building, social and economic simulation game full of original challenges.
User reviews:
Mostly Positive (41 reviews) - 73% of the 41 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Apr 24, 2014

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About This Game

Strategy, trade and empire building on the old Silk Road. Spice Road is a town building, social and economic simulation game full of original challenges.

"Deep in the mountains and deserts of central Asia, where life is hard and death is sudden, thin trails of gold, silk and spice trace a web between the industrial forges of the West and the exotic climes of the East."

You are a colonial governor in the 18th Century, building a town on the Spice Road in a time of war and discovery. More than spice travels your roads – musket armies, philosophies, and power plays that span the globe are at your control. From palace to monastry, trade post to smugglers den – your town is worthless without the nobles, monks, merchants and rogues that chose to live in it – and keeping them all happy at the same time is never simple.

Spice Road uses the StormRaid™ engine to deliver a beautiful fully 3D rendered world on high-end DirectX® graphics cards.


  • Advanced economic and trading simulation. 3 tiers of industry provide goods and services for populations of citizens, slaves and nobles with full control over wages and taxation.
  • Build a network of farms, mines and caravan routes. Scout the map to find rare and exotic goods to export to distant lands.
  • Defeat Bandit raiders, or pay them tribute to keep your routes peaceful.
  • Compete against cunning corporate rivals. Choose diplomacy or raid their caravans and wage war on their cities.
  • Meet your citizen's social and religious needs. Attract visiting explorers or pilgrims by developing the entertainment or spiritual side of your town.
  • 20 Campaign Missions + generate new maps in Sandbox mode.

Player Comments:

"I think it's genuinely fantastic. I play many strategy games, and it's hard to find a mid-level title that is as solid as Spice Road in terms of gameplay." - Colin

"This must be one of the best indie titles I've ever played. I really love it how new features that you unlock bring new challenges... the deep gameplay is something that I enjoyed most in Spice Road!" - Pawel

"An excellent game... Having TONS of fun" - Unchayned

System Requirements

    • OS: WinXP
    • Processor: 1.0 GHz CPU
    • Memory: 256 MB RAM
    • Graphics: DirectX 8.0 compatible 3D Graphics Card
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
Customer reviews
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Mostly Positive (41 reviews)
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31 reviews match the filters above ( Mostly Positive)
Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
138 of 148 people (93%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
52.9 hrs on record
Posted: April 24, 2014
Thanks to some top-notch customer service on the part of Aartform, I now have this on Steam! My play hours may not show it, but I've been playing this game for just under a year and have logged probably over 100 hours with it all-told. It was a great game to pass the time while I was commuting from my last job and it is surprisingly deep despite being a little rough around the edges visually. I'm absolutely overjoyed to be able to play it on Steam and start earning achievements!

First things first: This game mainly caters to the kind of player that is interested in logistics and supply chain economics and is only really a city-builder or Civ style game in the loosest sense. You are building a network of trade nodes and attempting to meet various scenario goals or self-created goals (in the sandbox mode) as opposed to fighting battles or growing population. The main challenge is building an efficient and profitable network of trade cities given the resources on the map.

One word of caution: The later scenarios are *hard*. You have to really know how the supply/demand model works and understand route efficiency. Route length and travel times are very important when trying to make the big bucks supplying a huge town. It can be very frustrating: I was stuck on one scenario for a long time because I didn't understand some concepts about the economic model. This game does *not* hold your hand and is for people looking for a mental challenge.

All told, this is well worth the price (I paid the full price and got more than my money's worth) if you are the kind of person that 1) loves classical economics and trade/logistics theory 2) are not afraid to step up to a challenge and 3) aren't too hung up on the dated graphics. BIG thumbs up!
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60 of 68 people (88%) found this review helpful
8.9 hrs on record
Posted: April 26, 2014
This is exactly the kind of game I was hoping for when I read the title and description on Greenlight.

An economic engine, a city builder, a pseudo-historical setting, and an exploration game.

A game that is real time but can slowed down (or sped up.)

Very nice graphics, easy to learn interface, mellow sounds.

I very much like this game.
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49 of 53 people (92%) found this review helpful
18 people found this review funny
40.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 13, 2014
The graphics are cheap and cheesy but the systsem requirements so low this game will probably run well on a George Foreman grill.

Spice Road reminds me of Railroad Tycoon -- optimizing finances and spending a good bit of time interpreting spread sheet data -- logistics. But where I got tired of Railroad Tycoon rather quickly, this game keeps my interest by having a bit of Civilization (the Sid Myers series) thrown in. The ability to train guard units and send them out alone or embedded in caravans really rounds out the game nicely. In the future, I hope there are more types of military units than simply "Guards," or some small expansion of combat. There are many types of buildings to put in your cities and choices to be made about when to level them up which also helps this game be more compelling than simply optimizing spread sheets.

The depth of game is quite good. Don't be fooled by early missions; there are like 20 missions for a good reaon -- it takes that long to learn the basic game. There is a lot of subtlety here which is key to keeping any game interesting after multiple play-throughs. After 2 missions you might think it is simple, but after 8 you realize it is anything but simple. After 12, the possibility of Buyer's Remorse begins to permanently fade.

I was hoping to learn a bit of history when I bought this game, and in that arena, I have been disappointed. I have not come away with a deeper understanding of who the major players of the area were nor what their cultures were like, but the game is still an enjoyable change of pace for thinking fans of strategy games. Adding a few sentences of historical context to each of the mission descriptions would go a long way for history buffs.

Still it is fun to engage in the virtual construction of opium dens, slave markets and monastaries with consequences for the choices you make. You can choose war or peace with NPC factions and pay protection money or fight NPC bandits. Limited finances will make you constantly choose carefully what to build next. Choices, choices!

Some complaints I have: When I start a new town and send out 4 scouts, I often leave 2 on auto-pilot and give 2 instructions on where to go. Later on, I can't easily tell which ones I'm controlling. I get the impression that if you ever take a scout out of auto-explore, it just patrols back and forth to the point you set, wasting time, not exploring after the first round trip. (Not sure if I fully understand its AI yet.)

Worse, the caravans and guards remove the fog of war, but don't fill in the resources, so I can't tell if a patch of ground has been explored for resources by scouts or not. Put it all together, and I feel quite out of control when it comes to exploring for resources. I need more information and more control. It is frustrating when resources are suddenly revealed long after you thought you had scouted out an area... long after you chose where to place your city in that area.

I'd like to see a path when I mouseover a scout -- his planned route of where to go next. Or maybe an icon showing whether he is on auto-pilot. I'd like the ability to return a patrolling scout back to auto-exploration. I'd like to see two different types of fog: one that lets me know if an area has been explored by scouts or not. Maybe a caravan can remove the fog of war, but the area still has a grey tinge until explored by a scout?

I'd like the scouts to look a little less like the caravans. A medium blue oval is sometimes hard to distinguish from a medium-small blue oval. How about adding some bumps to the caravan icon or something?

The list of commodities in the profit/loss view is not alphabetized, making you read the entire list every time you want to find "weapons" or "food" or "ore." On the other hand, at least there is a long enough list to make the game interesting.

Occasionally you will take out loans, but when you repay them, you must repay your largest loan first which can make it hard to get out of a hole once you get a little stuck.

All in all, Spice Road definitely has its charms. It is stable, smooth, coherent, and consistently entertaining. Despite discussing some specific short-comings, I expect to get a couple hundred hours out of this title. I got it on Steam sale for $11.99, and that price seems about right to me. I would hesitate at $20. I am hard to impress, but give it 6.8/10 in its current (Nov 2014) form -- a worthy entry in any Steam library of strategy games. New patches still coming out -- should improve over time.
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34 of 40 people (85%) found this review helpful
18.0 hrs on record
Posted: May 6, 2014
I can highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys logistics & economical strategy games.
It reminds me a bit of some of my old favorites, such as Railroad Tycoon 3 or Capitalism 2.

To the people who say this is an easy game, they didn't give it enough time.
If you put it on hard, some of the scenarios in the first act even can be difficult. I'm sure it will increase the challenge in later acts as well.

It isn't just "put down some buildings and watch numbers change". That would be like saying the Civilization series is just building units and sending them to fight.

You have to think about:
- where to place camps
- when to upgrade
- which buildings to build RIGHT NOW, vs which to build later, vs which to never build.
- There are a variety of considerations to deal with: limited budgets (this is the main restriction), competing factions taking up good spaces if you aren't fast enogh, bandits taking out your caravans, etc.

With a limited budget, you really do have to think about what your next moves should be.

- The campaign maps are static. Meaning if you have trouble and restart the mission, you know exactly where the resources are: you already found them in your last game. If you aren't exploring blind, you can get a big advantage by grabbing the best spots much earlier (since you know where they are now). To the dev: I'd suggest randomizing resource placement on the campaign maps to combat this.

- Once you get rolling and have a decent income, it isn't that difficult for the rest of the game. Maybe this changes in the later missions or sandbox mode. That said, there is still room for thought; you could just brute force build a bunch of stuff with your good income, but you'd maximize profits better by considering what to build when. (Perhaps later on when competition is more fierce this will be different.)

Review Caveats: I'm only through 6 campaign missions so far, will update if anything changes after playing through more.

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43 of 60 people (72%) found this review helpful
3.9 hrs on record
Posted: April 24, 2014
Spice Road is an unique and interesing strategy game from Aartform Games that has a great deal of depth to it.

You start out on a grid based map and choose where you want to start a city/town. And then you build up the town with a huge focus on economy rather than supply management. This unique mechanic works really well thus distancing itself from other strategy games like Banished and Civ 5. (When I say economy, I'm talking about $ and trade routes) Aside from economy you'll be building your city/town from different categorries of buildings. (i.e. Housing, Administration, Resources, Trade, Recreation, Spiritual, Security, and Health) Each helping out the town in it's own way. For example: to keep people healthy you can build a well and to keep people spiritually active you can build a shrine, etc. Also, there are hardly any loading screens and the game can run on almost anything.

That being said, the game does suffer from poor graphics and poor audio quality. Also there is no combat and it's pretty easy. But overall, I can recommend this game to any strategy fan or gamer who wants to get into strategy games.

*Review copy was provided by Aartform Games; Thank you!*
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15 of 17 people (88%) found this review helpful
59.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 23, 2015
This game is a pure indie gem.

It scratches the trading itch Railroad Tycoon III had left and the Port Royale series failed to take over with very nicely designed game mechanics. Add to it a bit of citybuilding and strategy and... voila !

It is very replayable.

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10 of 11 people (91%) found this review helpful
10.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 29, 2014
A very pleasing game. The graphics are adequate, although it's not that important here. It feels well designed, without bugs, super fast (loading, opening) and super light. The sort of things you sometimes get from indie developers.
I put is on the same shelf as Mount & Blade and Banished.
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9 of 10 people (90%) found this review helpful
36.0 hrs on record
Posted: March 18, 2015
This game is almost casual. Almost. Play is quick and clean. It is more an abstraction then a sim - and it is well done. Totally worth the price tag.
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10 of 13 people (77%) found this review helpful
2.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 14, 2015
Business simulation game with much attantion to detail and an RPG element thrown in. Probably kind of dry and complicated for most imo but the RPG part is interesting and the art is nice. Better then most indie games I've played, professionaly done. I recommend for the micro management types out there.

I play offline a lot and so my actual time played is not acurate. I have around 6-12 hrs.
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5 of 6 people (83%) found this review helpful
15.7 hrs on record
Posted: July 4, 2015
In a nutshell, it's half Banished, half Civ V, and a trading sim. It has a pleasant mix of city building, trade management, scouting, and basic combat. Definitely worth it.
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Recently Posted
12.8 hrs
Posted: October 15
Dear reader,

Below please find my unenthusiastic recommendation for Spice Road:

The concept is interesting for about 7 hours.

What kills this game is the repetitive click-fest (even with the game on pause) to build several practically identical towns, as every building has to be built individually. If you see screenshots of enormous towns for this game -- yeah. Every single building has to be placed individually, and if you have 6 or more towns that becomes a new clicking game of itself, which I don't enjoy.

The game is not nearly as deep as I had hoped from some of the reviews.

Worst of all, the tutorial "storyline" is mandatory to access all the buildings in sandbox. I would rather do away with the tutorial altogether, but forcing me to play it did show some interesting scenarios in the process. It also guaranteed I would not have an adequate comprehension of the game BEFORE my 2 hour request Steam for a refund period.

So yeah -- the game is okay. It could certainly be better. It could certainly not force players through the tutorial and still allow for varied challenges if the developer had wanted to provide more options to the sandbox mode. But instead, sandbox is inextricably tied to the amount of the tutorial the player has accomplished.

There is a technology tree, which allows access to buildings and building upgrades, but points for the technology tree only occur in the tutorial storyline as levels are completed. Hence the tree is merely a means of blocking sandbox access to the full building menu until all the whole storyline is completed.

Once you start to win, once the wheel begins to turn, there's practically nothing to stop you. But getting to that point can be an interesting challenge.

I would only recommend this to die-hard tycoon fans.
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0.8 hrs
Posted: September 15
the graphics on this are very dated. gameplay gets boring after a while therefore returning it.
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Team Dark Morph
73.9 hrs
Posted: May 20
Excellent game, I highly recommend!
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2.7 hrs
Posted: April 24
Positive review out of courtesy to Developer.

Bought this and regret it. Nothing explicitly wrong, but a bit too much micromanagement and too fast paced for me. Also very repetitive, so it's closer to a time management game than a building or 4x game.

Obviously haven't gone very far yet, so maybe it would change.
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17.8 hrs
Posted: April 11
I liked it. I wish the campaign was longer, but you can enjoy some replayability by trying for 100% completion on all levels.
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3.1 hrs
Posted: April 4
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3.7 hrs
Posted: October 31, 2015
If you would enjoy watching an ant farm with less than half a dozen ants and combine that with the challenge of microwaving food then this is the game for you.
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Mildred Herring
4.1 hrs
Posted: September 29, 2015
What Grand Ages: Medieval failed to do, with all the budget in the world, this game developer does with a tiny fraction of the resources. No customisation for your flag or town names, but in all other departments this is an excellent, cerebral trading sim for the very patient. The UI is reminiscent of the Hegemony RTS series.

Dear oh dear, Kalypso... For shame.

Anyway, recommended!
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