Emphasis seems to be on politics and building. Very deep, very steep learning curve.
Alpha version is available for about ten bucks, and there will soon be a Kickstarter. Anyone who buys in will eventually get a Steam key, but for now it's just a downloadable executable which I am finding fascinating but overwhelming.
Everything you do has political ramifications, and you cannot do much without getting some political support beyond your own House. From their website:
Website also has a link to some documentation, which gives a better picture of the gameplay.The first ‘5X’ grand strategy game ever!!!
Alliance of the Sacred Suns (AotSS) is a game unlike many that you have ever played. It is foremost a grand strategy game, with 4X elements, but also character and House management. We call it a 5X – the 5th ‘X’ being ‘eXist’. You are a character in AotSS, and if you die, the game ends… so tread lightly, your Majesty!
MAIN GAME FEATURES:
Top – level management – you have Action Points that are finite and vary from turn to turn. You can do almost anything, but you can’t do everything
You are the Emperor – you are a character in a game that has hundreds that you will interact with. If you die, or are deposed, the game is over
Multiple layers of strategy – from a traditional 4X-type (exploring and scanning new systems, colonizing planets, establishing outposts, building militaries and trade) upwards to developing your Great House and managing the other Houses that all have specialties that you can only take advantage of if you are on friendly terms with them, to discovering and reaching out to other breakaway human civilizations, to your ultimate goal of uniting the Celestial Empire against a final attack by humanities’ oldest enemy, the Xyl
Dynamic character relationship model – you can affect your relationships with Actions that you can take against characters, from giving a speech to challenging them to having them executed. Of course, they have relationships with others in the game too, so consider the knock-on effects of anything you do…
Great and Minor Houses – Houses limit what you can do as Emperor. Houses own territory, armies, etc. and if you piss them off, they may even try to usurp the Empire. Build alliances to allow characters with special talents and traditions to develop the Empire the way you want. For example, if you want a strong economy, you need good miners to ensure your factories run at full capacity, so you’ll want House Ilioaia (who has a strong mining tradition) on your side so you can appoint their members as viceroys of high-mineral planets… and so on.
Don’t micromanage, create a Project! Unlike traditional 4X games, you don’t make build queues, you create Projects to get things done, from colonizing a planet to throwing a celebration to upgrading a logistical region. You must assign an Adminstrator who gains power and influence from this post, and determines how smoothly your project will go! Assigning characters to Projects is a great way for them to earn power and influence… but take care that they do not gain too much, especially if they are of a House that hates you…