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 (24 reviews)
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
Helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people (100%) found this review helpful
36.0 hrs on record
Posted: March 18
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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9 of 14 people (64%) found this review helpful
1.9 hrs on record
Posted: March 18
"~5/10" According to My Own Ratings.
It's an interesting game. Rather ugly even for a merchant/management one. But the main problem is that you can't really play the sandbox mode without going through the whole (boring) campaign mode. The sandbox mode is unlocked from the start, but everything is locked there.

So far, I couldn't find out if it has anything new at all.

I tried the sandbox mode, found it a bit annoying that I couldn't figure out how to unlock the new buildings, read the in-game help, it didn't help at all. So, I assumed it would take some illogical sequence of steps and went to campaign mode to check how it's done... it's exactly how I expected it to be in the first place. And when I hopped back into sandbox mode, the option had magically appeared. I thought I didn't pay enough attention the first time, so I tried some more and that's just how it is. The options are missing from sandbox mode or locked until you do the campaings to unlock them.

It's a deal breaker for me, since this kind of game usually requires an extremelly well thought campaign missions to make them worth playing.

If you have never tried any games that even remotely resembles this one, you may enjoy it a lot. If you have, you might want to play them instead. I'm still trying gather the patience to go through the (so far extremely boring tutorial-like) campaing missions to see if this game has anything new at all. I haven't seen a reason to be hopeful though.
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111 of 119 people (93%) found this review helpful
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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55 of 61 people (90%) 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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39 of 42 people (93%) found this review helpful
1 person 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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33 of 38 people (87%) 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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42 of 58 people (72%) found this review helpful
3.4 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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9 of 10 people (90%) 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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10 of 17 people (59%) found this review helpful
61.9 hrs on record
Posted: September 1, 2014
I bought this game when it was in early release -- anyway, a few months ago. Played the campaign through and enjoyed it immensely. Fairly quick learning curve. Fun to play.
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32 of 60 people (53%) found this review helpful
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: July 3, 2014
Imagine Anno, except not bad, or Children of the Nile, except released on Steam in 2014, and all about economy. You erect towns and make your lovable bumblebees happy (at least on the earlier levels, conjuring happiness involves building a few basic buildings and does not require careful balancing or come with trade-offs). In the meantime, you also try to maximise trade route efficiency and just make some good old fashioned dosh. No greenback no victory.
Every mission adds further jolly gameplay concepts, while finishing objectives gives you upgrade points to improve your buildings and unlock new ones.

Unfortunately no multiplayer and no sandbox mode.
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20 of 41 people (49%) found this review helpful
2.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 3, 2014
Based on the description, I felt it had the potential to be a fun city builder in the same vein as Pharaoh. Unfortunately it's a bland game where the TAB key becomes your best friend to fast forward through mundane objectives. Simply put, this game is a disappointment.
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13 of 29 people (45%) found this review helpful
2.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 12, 2014
It's not for me. The 2 good thing about it are that in my short play time I saw no bugs and it did seem very challenging. just not fun, no graphics really and just kind of blah. I think hardcore strat/sim guys might like the difficulty but not for the normal crowd in my opinion.
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0 of 5 people (0%) found this review helpful
1.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 30, 2014
Sorry to say, but I felt little let down with this one. The limit to what all you can do came really fast and after that it became kind of boring. It´s a shame ´cause I had high expectations for this one.
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17 of 52 people (33%) found this review helpful
0.4 hrs on record
Posted: April 25, 2014
Game got old pretty quickly. You throw buildings down and wait for numbers to change.
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17 of 53 people (32%) found this review helpful
0.4 hrs on record
Posted: April 25, 2014
I thought had potential... I like it's attempt to work but it's too clunky. The camera pan is all but useless along with zoom etc.. The game could use some loving... but I wouldn't buy it if I were you...
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5 of 26 people (19%) found this review helpful
8.1 hrs on record
Posted: October 21, 2014
Good game, like the settlers but more refreshing.
Here's some gameplay:
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4 of 71 people (6%) found this review helpful
4.0 hrs on record
Posted: April 24, 2014
its fun
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7.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 19
Really fun game, trading seems all cool, building a city is fun only downside I can see is their is no music.
Its wroth its cost and its got some hard story and if that's not your sort of thing then you can bust the sandbox mode.
One cheeky thing is that if you want to play the sandbox mode you do have to play the story to unlock the necessary buildings but the acts are worth ago and once you have done act one out of tree you can have a sweet time on the sandbox minus a few buildings.
Overall really good building/trading game and there really isn't that many about that are worth ago compared to the port royal series.

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