Ashes of the Singularity is a RTS game developed by Oxide and published by Stardock. The game places heavy focus on controlling large groups of units, and battles can have literally thousands of them.
In the 22nd century, mankind has reached The Singularity, and is constantly using technology to enhance its own intellect. This led to the creation of Turinium, a form of programmable matter that can be used to enhance a person's intellect, and the consequent birth of the first Post-Humans, who essentialy leave the limitations of their human biology behind and transfer their consciouness to a large computational network made entirely of turinium, called the Metaverse. The more turinium a person has access to, the more intelligent it becomes, so, the Post-Humans expand across the universe, converting planets into Turinium in order to increase their own intellect.
As the post-humans expand across the galaxy, conflict ensues between them, and in order to prevent a catastrophic war that could end not only the post-humans, but also all other remaining humans as well, the Post-Human Coalition is formed: a way to ensure peace not only among the post-humans themselves, but also to prevent post-humans from commiting abuses towards the rest of humanity.
However, humanity may not be the only entity to have reached singularity in the galaxy...
The game contains examples of:
- A God Am I: being turned into an immortal being who can spread itself across the universe on a mere thought has caused some Post-Humans develop into this trope towards non-Post Humans. A few them express the belief that baseline humans aren't fully sentient; the rapid rise in power of the player character so soon after being converted terrifies them.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Haalee is eventually shown to have turned against the Post-Humans, feeling their very nature can lead to nothing but endless war. It happens again when Samuel creates Nihilon, which he intends to use as a kind of autonomous tool, but quickly outgrows its parameters.
- Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: The particle effects from lasers, missiles and rockets are an incredible spectacle, and whether youre fielding hordes of tiny tanks or huge dreadnoughts and artillery pieces, you can expect a firework display.
- Armor-Piercing Attack: Some weapons have this attribute, allowing them to deal direct damage to PHC units without taking into account their armour.
- Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: Being turned into a Post-Human and reaching the metaverse is arguably this.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: For many Post-Humans, their old views from when they had biological bodies become irrelevant, and human ethics are as alien to them as they are alien to humanity itself. Some of them tend to view the rest of humanity as mere insects. This is one of the reasons why the Post-Human Coalition was formed: a Post-Human once suggested converting Earth and everything in it into turinium.
- The Dreaded: The player character from the first campaign, Neoph, becomes this in the second campaign. The first time you encounter him as an enemy, all you can do is hold him off and buy time for the data upload.
- Drone Deployer: A specialty of the Substrates, who have the Drone Hive cruiser, the Overmind dreadnought, a drone firing static defense and can remotely deploy a swarm of drones onto the battlefield.
- Eldritch Abomination: Although post-humans are not necessarily evil, they are nigh immortal entities who can reach planets without the need of a starship. All they have to do is to think.
- Faction Calculus: The two factions available are mechanically different, with the PHC (Powerhouse) countering the Substrate (Subversive)'s speed with tougher units.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: The player character of the first campaign is pulled into Kepler III as a neophyte, having no idea what's going on. As you progress, he rapidly rises in power and Mac states that what he has gained in his short span is far more than what the average Post-Human keeps in their lifetime. He ultimately becomes The Dreaded by the end of the campaign.
- Hero Unit: Dreadnoughts and Juggernauts are expensive and take a long time to produce, and gain experience and level up every time they survive a battle, gaining new and more powerful skills as they age. If one is in trouble, you will want to retrieve it before its destroyed.
- Horrifying the Horror: The premise of the game is that there is something consuming the post-humans from within and annihilating them. Naturally, the post-humans are VERY scared of what that might be, and this is threatening to tear the Post-Human Coalition apart.
- Logical Weakness: Post-Humans travel via quantum transmission, but if someone finds a way to block those transmissions, they can keep Post-Humans out. This eventually happens when Mars sets up quantum jamming across then entire planet which might as well be a solid titanium shell as far as the PHC is concerned.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: The metaverse where the Post-Humans inhabit is arguably this, at least for non-post humans. Its true nature, however, is way beyond human comprehension.
- The Medic: The PHC has access to Medics capable of healing other units.
- Macross Missile Massacre: The PHC have a liking for this, not only possessing "Artemis" missile cruisers but also the "Cronus" siege dreadnought, with multiple missile racks and the option to upgrade to longer-ranged versions. Both units can fire upon targets outside their visual range provided they have radar contact- and the Cronus can be upgraded to have its own radar.
- Mighty Glacier: The Juggernauts, which move at a snail's pace but can tear through enemy lines almost single-handedly.
- Pro-Human Transhuman: Mac, one of the co-founders of the PHC and your Voice with an Internet Connection for the entirety of the first campaign. Other Post-Humans and Haalee both see him as a Wide-Eyed Idealist at best.
- Regenerating Shield, Static Health: All Substrate units are protected by a shield that regenerates over time, even if the shields are depleted, but it's difficult for them to restore hull damage once those shields fall.
- Shout-Out: Mac comments that when Haalee first came online, she kept making Skynet jokes.
- Tech Demo Game: Most people know Ashes as 'that DirectX 12 and Vulkan benchmark'. If you watch tech videos on Youtube, expect this game to come up a lot, heck, even the Linus Tech Tips Youtube channel has christened the game with its own pet name: "Ashes of the Benchmark" due to it's notorious use in their benchmark tests.
- Worker Unit: The PHC Engineer and Substrate Constructor, which construct buildings. In addition, the Substrate has the Harvester, which can harvest resources from unowned regions.
- You Require More Vespene Gas: Metal (Gold-type) and Radioactives (Lumber-type) and Turinium (kind of Power-like) are supplied by captured regions. Each region supplies exactly one of these resources, with Metal most common than Radioactives. Turinium is special in that it generated victory points, but also gives a boost to income. Quanta (also Power-like, with shades of Population) is produces by special buildings and can, among other things, be used to increase the unit cap.
- Zerg Rush: The Nest of the Queen can summon an entire army of frigates to overwhelm the enemy with rapidly-replacing assault.