Thursday, July 27, 2017

Epic Little War Game Gameplay Review

I'm playing Epic Little War Game, a turn-based strategy game by Rubicon Development.



The game features a series of scripted missions in a campaign that routinely gives superior numbers and defenses to the AI. Online and skirmish games are also present, with lots of maps available plus the ability to generate randomized ones (although you cannot customize the size of the map or the number of players while making it). The AI also gets a significant money advantage in skirmish games on any difficulty level beyond “easy”. Epic Little War Game tries to achieve a level of humor through its presentation, but I found it to be repetitive and unfunny. The interface is decent but lacks a “next” or “idle” unit indicator beyond the colored hex beneath each unit. The goal is to eliminate the enemy headquarters, using oil to purchase things and power to keep things running. Buildings include unit-producing structures and defensive turrets, allowing for infantry, vehicle, air, and sea attacks. Units can both move and shoot each turn (including moving, shooting, and moving again). Skirmish games become a race towards the center, building oil derricks along the way and placing unit-producing structures close to the enemy base because of extremely slow unit movement. Games also tend to drag due to high building health against most units and potent automated defenses; in addition, units that actually can destroy buildings can be easily and cheaply countered by a defender. There are some favored units (grenadiers and artillery) that offer powerful splash damage against all targets. The AI opponent is better in the campaign mode, constructing appropriate counter units, but utilizes the same general strategy in skirmish games (and loves power plants to a fault). While the randomized maps and simplified mechanics of Epic Little War Game are appealing, the slow gameplay, limited strategic options, spotty AI, and repetitive attempts at humor grow weary with successive play throughs.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Aven Colony Gameplay Review

I'm playing Aven Colony, a space colony building simulation by Mothership Entertainment and Team17 Digital.



The game features nine scenarios with numerous specific, helpful objectives to complete on the way towards ultimate victory; the same nine areas are used for the sandbox mode, as there are no randomized maps. The interface has a lot of information to display, and it does so through its plentiful overlays and data tables (with keyboard shortcuts to access specific screens). It can be difficult to tell the difference between minable resource locations and simple decorations. The basic resources to gather are food (grown at farms), water (extracted from the ground), electricity (made at power plants), and nanites (used to build stuff, converted from mined minerals). You’ll also have to keep an eye on the air quality (improved by placing filters), storage space, housing, and citizen happiness (place bars to get them drunk!). Structures must be placed within the range of a construction drone (other drones can fight alien infections or provide police protection), and tunnels connect all the buildings. Excess resources can be traded, additional technologies can be researched, and elections occur every so often (so you must keep happiness up). You can also explore the area outside the colony, although it’s simply ordering a ship on a static map to different waypoints. Aven Colony strikes a pleasing balance of difficulty, providing the user with enough tasks to keep busy and requiring constant supervision to maintain the delicate balance of the colony. The result is a compelling management game that only needs additional maps to further replay value.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Solar Settlers Gameplay Review

I'm playing Solar Settlers, a card-based space exploration strategy game by BrainGoodGames.



The goal is to colonize a randomized map within the eight turn limit. Colonists can explore new tiles around the map, collecting resources in a location once. Hydrogen is used to move, oxygen to keep colonists alive between turns, and metal to build stuff. Locations can also be developed using cards, which will grant new abilities (such as different resources, a production ability at the end of each turn, increased military value to allow for exploration further out, or habitat space). There is definitely strategy involved on where to move, when to move, which order to move in, which cards to use, which resources to spend,  which tiles to develop, and how to settle the system (focusing on the interior or expanding outward). Solar Settlers is an intriguing turn-based strategy game that is challenging, features randomized maps, and allows for layered strategies to attain victory.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Behold the Kickmen Gameplay Review

I'm playing Behold the Kickmen, an arcade sports game by Size Five Games.



The game features a career mode (where all the team names end in “United”) where you spend money, earned by scoring goals after making passes and tackles, on team-wide upgrades in skill. Quick custom games against the AI are also possible, though there is no multiplayer. Controls are performed better with a gamepad. Players move significantly slower with the ball, placing an emphasis on passing (though players can sprint for a limited time). Both kicks and tackles can be aimed, and tapping the tackle button again when near the ball will take possession. Dashing left or right is also available, though you are not able to manually switch players (which makes the game more challenging and exciting overall). This is not a serious depiction of the sport: there are no throw-ins, goalies barely get in the way, you score more points by kicking further out, extra time is added by running over clocks scattered on the field, and offsides penalties are given randomly (well, that part is realistic). The AI is just good enough to provide a decent opponent while adhering to the silly nature of the game. Although Behold the Kickmen is not the best arcade soccer game available, it does offer good gameplay mechanics befitting of its casual approach to the sport.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Gettysburg: The Tide Turns Gameplay Review

I'm playing Gettysburg: The Tide Turns, a turn-based strategy game by Shenandoah Studio and Slitherine.



The game features scenarios covering the entire three-day battle, each day individually, the intense fighting of the second day, and Pickett’s Charge. The Confederates must capture locations on top of Cemetery Ridge, while the Union must inflict more casualties. The battles can be fought against the usually capable AI (the computer opponent does sometimes move unnecessarily as a defender), locally against another player, or online using Slitherine’s nifty play-by-e-mail system. The interface has a stylish map, and makes it fairly easy to find units. Each turn represents an hour, and units are activated for movement in a completely random order each turn. In addition, combat happens randomly as well (although the side with initiative can cause combat to happen anytime they wish), which adds a layer of uncertainty to the game that is not found in more traditional I-go-you-go wargames. Units include infantry, cavalry, and artillery units in their historical orders of battle. Consolidating large units together, the game never feels unwieldy to control and is appropriate for all experience levels. Combat consists of several phases (cavalry screening, artillery bombardment, attacking withdrawal, firing, retreat, and pursuit); splitting fire between two adjacent targets reduces the effectiveness of an attacking unit, and this is a good abstraction of the effectiveness of flanking maneuvers. Units lose strength when attacked (denoted by easy-to-see icons for each unit), and are removed from the game when depleted.Thanks to the approachable nature of the game and the unpredictability of the randomized turn order, Gettysburg: The Tide Turns is an entertaining turn-based strategy game.