Sigma Theory: Global Cold War is an indie management game in Early Access, developed by Goblinz Studio and inspired by Civilization, XCOM, and Tropico. When a new scientific method is discovered, you lead a science division and a network of spies in a cold war against rival nations to be the first to harness the ultimate technology.
The year is 2029, and a new scientific method known as the Sigma Theory has been discovered. This experimental method allows for breakthroughs in various technologic fields, and naturally, the most powerful nations in the world each decide to try and monopolize them.
Waging War in the Shadows
You lead the Sigma research division in a nation of your choosing. As your research becomes fruitful, your relations with your government become better, and you can receive more funding. You start the game in recruiting a team of four elite agents with different traits and personalities.
Your agents can hack into rival nations’ secure systems, scout for secret research facilities, and persuade scientists to join you. You can even ask them to dig up dirt on rival division leaders, to force them into revealing technological secrets.
Once you locate a rival nation’s scientist, you will be able to bribe, seduce or even abduct them. The way you choose to act will affect the scientist, for better or worse, and you will be able to turn them into a double agent, or even exfiltrate them back to your country.
Should you choose to exfiltrate the scientists, you will enter an exfiltration minigame in which you observe and command your agent as they face various scenarios, from encountering security guards to taking hostages. Escape won’t be easy, and if luck isn’t on your side, or if your agent isn’t trained enough, they can get caught by the authorities, or even die. Losing an agent is not a good idea and can even take you out of the race for good if you’re not too careful.
What a Unique Discovery
But if you succeed in the exfiltration, it can pay off. With the scientists you rescue, you can choose which advanced technology to research, and every advancement in these fields can potentially change the world.
These futuristic technologies range from a cure for all known forms of cancer to agent teleportation, or a hypnosis technology that can instantly convince scientists to defect. Among the more advanced techs, are even ones for global wealth and eternal youth. If you become the first nation to discover a technology, you can benefit from exclusive perks that no other country will receive, which can give you the edge you need to beat them in the race.
But as you continue to develop new advancements, private groups will try to lay their dirty hands on your discoveries. If you break under stress and decide to give them exclusive control over a specific technology, you will be able to enjoy unique benefits from those groups, but this carries a hefty cost. As you and other leaders make dangerous decisions, the world moves closer to a nuclear war, and the doomsday clock slowly ticks ever forward.
When the doomsday clock hits midnight, it’s a sign that a terminal nuclear war is inevitable – one that will end all of humankind for good. This is essentially the losing condition in Sigma Theory: Global Cold War.
To avoid a nuclear war, you will want to maintain good relations with the rival nations using diplomacy. You can schedule to meet with them, and convince them to trade technology and resources with you.
The rival Sigma leaders are not the only characters you’ll be able to interact with. Your spouse, who is the leader of a different government wing, will often come demanding favors from you. You will have to choose whether or not you are willing to compromise to maintain a happy marital life, especially with so much on the line.
If that’s not enough, your scientists and agents may also come with various demands. If you fail to agree, they can even die from stress or abandon the department.
Wars Aren’t Easy
It’s not easy to keep all the mechanics of Sigma Theory in line, and if you make a mistake, it can quickly spiral out of control and lead to a nuclear war. Sigma Theory takes a lot of inspiration from XCOM 2 and puts you at a disadvantage, but gives you the means to overcome obstacles, survive, and eventually even rise above.
The pressure induced from the difficulty creates an authentic feeling that there’s a lot at stake, and kept me excited throughout the game. But even if you lose the game, you’ll be able to start a new one and enjoy a growing selection of agents, which will unlock as you achieve different goals in the game.
The game is currently in Early Access, and it will run for three to six months. One of the features the developers are hoping to add during that time is a story mode with missions for every one of the playable nations.