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Video Game / Empire of Sin

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It's a dog-eat-dog world, baby
Where nobody ever really wins
And if you're lookin' for salvation, well...
You know you ain’t gonna find it in...
The Empire… of Siiiiiiiiiiiiin!
The Empire of Sin theme song

Ah, Chicago. Hell of a town, ain't it? Beautiful skyline, flashy nightlife, and boundless opportunity to start a business... even if said business happens to be, shall we say, less than legitimate. It's 17 March 1920, and you're the newest face on the block - or maybe one of the oldest ones. There's so many colourful characters in this neck of the woods, you can barely keep track.

In any case, Chicago, you've found, is your kinda place. Booze, gambling, whoring, loan sharks, and a police force more than willing to look the other way for the right amount of money sent to their retirement fund. What's not to love? Well, maybe the thugs you got as neighbors, for one. Or the BOP knocking on everyone's door. Or perhaps your newfound peers in the business, who all seek the same kind of power you do.

If you wanna rule this Empire of Sin, you best be ready to stomp on, lie to, and sabotage the lives of a lot of people to get to the top of the food chain, while also painting yourself as an upstanding citizen to ensure the feds don't get too curious. Nobody said ruling Chicago was gonna be easy. Many in your shoes have tried and failed to get where you wanna go. Will you succeed where they didn't and build a criminal empire to encompass the entire city? Or will you end up as another footnote in the history of Chicago's chaotic underworld?

The path is yours to choose. Good luck, kingpin.

Empire of Sin is a character-driven strategy management game, developed by Romero Games and published by Paradox Interactive. Set in Chicago during Prohibition, the game casts the player as a crime boss, setting out to establish a criminal empire through bootlegging, backstabbing, and beatdowns.

It was released on December 1st, 2020 on Seventh Generation consoles and PC through Steam. The official website is here.

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  • Affably Evil: Most bosses have this in some form or another, though it varies in terms of frequency and genuineness. By far, the most habitual practitioner of this trope is Vice Kings leader Daniel McKee Jackson. He rarely, if ever, raises his voice, operates a funeral parlor that provides its services for free, and is unfailingly polite to those he interacts with, be they his friends or enemies. That said, he still leads a gang that operates no shortage of prostitution and gambling rackets to gain income, and he himself seeks political power in order to make his dreams of a better Chicago come true, no matter who he has to step on to get it. These two sides of Jackson are so different that people tend to think of them as two separate people - Daniel the Humanitarian and Daniel the Businessman.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Petty thugs roam around town and occupy derelict buildings. These thugs are hostile to anyone they meet, you included. If you want them out of the way, you'll need to kill them.
  • And the Adventure Continues: When you win a game, a cutscene plays of your boss riding in the back of Sal's taxi. Depending on who it is, they'll ask Sal to take them out of town in search of other cities to conquer. Chicago is theirs now...but why stop there?
  • Artistic License – History: By no means is this game to be regarded as 100% historically accurate. Many historic irregularities exist, even looking past the part where bosses and gangsters can live past their historic death date or die earlier. One example is Al Capone himself, who starts the game as the leader of the Chicago Outfit in 1920, yet never became the Outfit's boss until early 1925.
  • Ax-Crazy:
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: It's 1920s Chicago, what did you expect? Almost every gang leader wears some form of formal suit and those that don't still tend to stand out. Many hirable gangsters have these too, while others go for a more casual appearance.
  • Batter Up!: Think Frank Ragen keeps that bat around because it reminds him of the good old days when he led a sports association and not a criminal empire? His unique ability will make you think again. Beyond that, any character can use a baseball bat as a melee weapon.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The ending of Dion O'Banion's storyline. At the end of the game, Dion rules Chicago, his rivals are run out of town or dead, and the Northside Mob has never been stronger. However, in the final scene where your victorious boss rides in the back of Sal La Mancha's cab, Dion is noticeably somber. It's soon revealed that he's on his way to scatter Father Higgin's ashes - his friend and father figure who either died by Dion's hands in-game or died offscreen after Dion's story due to unspecified reasons. Dion, understandably so, barely speaks above a whisper, and struggles to keep himself from breaking down and crying.
    • Quite a few of the side missions end this way as well: Frankie Donovan's sidequest either has him sell off the gun arsenal he promised to the IRA after Frankie Yale makes a higher bid, thereby causing Frankie Donovan's brother Liam to be angered at his own blood selling out the cause of Irish independence, causing an argument where Liam either goes back to Ireland in a fury, is convinced to join The Donovans alongside his brother, or have Frankie kill Liam outright. Or, if Frankie keeps the gun for the IRA, Liam is killed by Yale's men when they steal the guns a second time, leaving Frankie to either kill Yale in revenge... or to take an increased payment from Yale, thereby spitting on his own brother's grave.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: The BOP. They have much more powerful guns than your average thug, come equipped with armored gear, and have the ability to restrain you and your gang members, which lock them out of action until freed by an ally. And they can appear extremely early, with the only way out of a fight with them is either passing speech checks, or by risk getting your racket raided.
  • The Cartel: Los Luceros and Los Hijos de la Llorona, led by Mexican immigrants Elvira Duarte and Salazar Reyna, respectively.
  • Clear My Name: Essentially the motivation behind Mabel Ryley's storyline. Not to the police or anything; Mabel is still an unrepentant and violent crime boss. However, many of her gang, the Alley Cats, believe her responsible for the death of her husband and former Alley Cat leader, Dave, via car bomb. Mabel's goal is to find the true culprit and convince the gang she's innocent. Turns out the true culprit is none other than Dave's mother and Mabel's mother-in-law Shirley, who set the bomb up hoping to kill Mabel. It was only by sheer luck that Dave set the bomb off instead.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Each playable faction has its own unique color differentiating them from each other and minor factions. They are as follows:
    • The Outfit: Blue.
    • Genna Crime Family: Crimson.
    • Vice Kings: Teal.
    • Northside Mob: Green.
    • Los Luceros: Red.
    • Ragen's Colts: Purple.
    • The Donovans: Dark Green.
    • Fortune Tellers: Bright Yellow.
    • The Saltis Gang: Beige.
    • The Alley Cats: Navy Blue.
    • White City Circus: Pink.
    • Murder Inc. (Make It Count): Salmon.
    • Hip Sing Tong: Orange.
    • Los Hijos de la Llorona: Yellow-Orange.
    • Card Sharks: Lime.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Zigzagged. Yes, it's gratifying to live the high life as a gang leader...sometimes. Other times, when personal tragedy strikes your boss's life...not so much.
  • Disc-One Nuke: The Golden Tommy Gun is sold in the Black Market Store pretty much from the start of the game, and while it is quite pricey at 20 grand, it is more than worth it. Combined with Anvil Rounds, which add 10 damage to each shot (of which it fires 3 per salvo), the GTG is guaranteed to kill almost anything in one salvo until the late game, at which point the Gun 'Em Down abilitynote  renders it even more broken, allowing a single attacker to wipe out an entire room full of thugs in a single turn.
  • Dry Crusader: Beware the BOP and police, who constantly hound the bosses over their criminal activities. If you're not careful, they may conduct raids against your rackets and shut them down if the police activity within that racket's precinct is high enough.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted. Certain rackets (The Speakeasy and Brothel for example) either require booze or get much better output for being supplied it. The booze taste also changes depending on the quality of the neighborhood, which can change occasionally whether or not the quality goes up or down. You also need to worry about creating supply lines between the neighborhoods, so that sweet sweet illegal Hooch can be more easily transported to your various rackets.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Membership to every faction is open to every race, gender, and sexual orientation.
  • Evil Laugh: When using Ultimate Abilities, mob bosses tend to let out a laugh or two. Especially Frankie Donovan.
  • Fighting Irish: Frankie Donovan, Mabel Ryley, Frank Ragen, and Dion O'Banion, with each one being Irish or Irish-American gang leaders, and all very much able to fight.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Surprisingly enough, Salazar Reyna can get this with two recruitable gangsters. It's understandable why he isn't willing to trust many people anymore, given that his best friend joined the Lodge and tried to kill him, forcing him to kill him in turn before fleeing to Chicago to start anew. However, when he meets recruitable gangsters Zee Zee and R, works with them to save Zee Zee's brother, and defeats the Lodge with them, Salazar slowly warms up to them, and, depending on how you choose to do things, can hire both into his crew.
  • The Flapper: Goldie Garneau is the concept personified. Petite form? Check. Short hair? Check. Expensive-looking dress? Check. Stockings covering all of her legs? Check. Visually attractive and sexually liberal? Check and double-check.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Frankie Donovan was once a member of the Irish rebels that fought in the Easter Rising. Frankie's brother Tom was killed in the fighting, and Frankie left the Cause out of grief, fleeing to America to avoid being executed by the British.
  • Gayngster: It's possible for Henchmen to be in same-sex relationships, and Maggie Dyer of the White City Circus is a Butch Lesbian who is offered a job by her ex-girlfriend... in saving the ex's new boyfriend, who has been kidnapped for his ability to brew alcohol.
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang: Averted. Faction membership isn't limited to ethnicity.
  • Guide Dang It!: Several of the game's Empire Quests ask you to engage with certain mechanics without explaining the inconsistent interface around them, such appointing a Councilor and an Underbossnote , sending The Mole to another gangnote , and appointing a district bossnote .
  • The Gunslinger: Salazar Reyna is this in spades. His dual revolvers, ability that allows him to shoot multiple enemies as he spins around, magnificent mustache, and outfit give Salazar an appearance more appropriate for a bandito from the wild west than a 1920's crime boss.
  • Historical Domain Character: Players can play as (or against) real-life crime bosses like Al Capone, Sai Wing Mock, Dion O'Banion, Angelo Genna, Frank Ragen, Elvira Duarte, Stephanie St. Clair, Daniel McKee Jackson, and Joseph Saltis in addition to several fictional ones.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: The Confiscated Sniper Rifle takes a bit of an investment (you have to bribe the Chicago Police Dept until you have +300 opinion, gaining you the Honorary Deputy rank and unlocking the police shop), but is still much more readily accessible than comparable endgame sniper rifles, some of which require killing a rival gang boss in combat (such as Elvira Duarte's).
  • The Irish Mob: The Donovans, led by former Irish rebel Frankie Donovan.
  • Keystone Army: Killing a mob boss will cause their whole empire to fall to thugs.
  • Killed Off for Real: Killing any of the recruitable henchmen from the black book takes them out of the game permanently. This can be a problem if any of the henchmen are on good terms with each other, as the death of one will result in a morale penalty.
  • Loan Shark: Starting with the Make It Count! DLC, players can now run loan businesses. Downplayed in that typically your rates are reasonable for how much money you give out, with how often you'll have to deal with defaulting customers depending on your honor.
  • The Oldest Profession: Brothels are an inexpensive (but less profitable) racket to run.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Don't let Elvira Duarte's age and grandmotherly demeanor fool you. She's just as dangerous and conniving as any of the other bosses in the game.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Goldie Garneau's dress is noticeably flashy, even by flapper standards.
  • The Roaring '20s: The game starts in 1920.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!:
  • Shout-Out:
    • Frankie Donovan's trusty hurley is named "Mo Chara Beag", which is Irish Gaelic for "My Little Friend".
  • The Syndicate: The goal of the game is to become this, with your empire spanning all of Chicago.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The Chicago branch of the Hip Sing Tong, led by real-life Chinese criminal Sai Wing Mock.
  • Turn-Based Combat: Each character acts before or after others based on how high their initiative is.