Thursday, April 17, 2014

Luna’s Wandering Stars Gameplay Review

I'm playing Luna’s Wandering Stars, a physics-based puzzle game by Serenity Forge.

The campaign features a series of missions at each planet in our solar system. Each planet comes with a unique way of controlling your asteroid, which is used to collect other asteroids and proceed to the next level. You can also create and share custom puzzles from within the game. The game has Newtonian physics where gravity, mass, and velocity all interact realistically. Puzzles can consist of some clever designs and multiple solutions are usually possible. While Luna’s Wandering Stars is a challenging game, fans of physics-based puzzles should find a pleasing experience.

Monday, April 14, 2014

UFHO2 Gameplay Review

I'm playing UFHO2, a turn-based strategic board game by Tiny Colossus.

The game includes a story mode which offers slightly over twenty matches against the AI. You can also play the game locally against others or the AI; online cross-platform multiplayer is planned for the near future. Each game takes place on a map of hexagonal areas filled with hexagonal rooms. The goal is to collect gems from around the map; each turn, you can complete six moves consisting of rotating areas, rotating rooms, or moving your alien. Various power-ups are available to prevent room rotation, grant additional moves, or grant other abilities. The AI is quite adept at the game, providing a very good challenge. UFHO2 is a straightforward computerized board game with interesting mechanics and capable AI.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Warlock II: The Exiled Gameplay Review

I'm playing Warlock II: The Exiled, a turn-based fantasy 4X strategy game by Ino-Co Plus and Paradox Interactive.

This sequel is very similar to the original game, especially in the sandbox mode. The major new addition is the Exiled campaign, where you must conquer a series of maps connected by gates, leading up to a showdown with a massive boss. The game rules have been tweaked to decrease city spam (through both a numerical city cap and more aggressive monsters), leading to more exploration and less settlers. Hero units can now be recruited and given weapons and items, and a revised spell tree allows for less random, more structured research. The quality of the AI opponents, both rival mages and non-playable monsters, has been improved, although your adversaries still love to found cities and inefficiently move units. Featuring minor additions for owners of the original game, Warlock II: The Exiled is a pleasant turn-based strategy game on its own merits.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Cubesis Gameplay Review

I'm playing Cubesis, a turn-based god game by Jan Horacek and Jindrich Pavlasek.

The game has a ten-level tutorial plus over twenty additional puzzles; however, you must complete each level in order (including the tutorials) to progress in the game, effectively locking out content if you can’t successfully beat each level. Each level has several objectives to meet, usually collecting hard-to-reach treasure chests with usually some minimal level of resource collection. While most levels don’t have a specific path to the solution, it can be difficult deciphering what the developers had in mind. The interface makes it difficult to see around buildings and other objects, which creates a problem when the map becomes crowded and uneven. Citizens can be spawned at cities and moved elsewhere to construct a variety of objects: fields to make grain, cities to make gold and more citizens, churches to stop the rising seas, granaries to store grain, menhirs to stop global warming, weathervanes to change wind and water directions, plugs to halt rising seas, and altering the landscape up or down to mine stone or reach inaccessible areas. Balancing resources requires constant, careful attention, as ignoring one aspect of the game will quickly lead to defeat. While there are some good ideas in Cubesis, the inelegant interface and finicky difficulty makes this god game somewhat inapproachable.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Age of Wonders III Gameplay Review

I'm playing Age of Wonders III, a turn-based fantasy 4X strategy game by Triumph Studios.

The game features two campaigns, the first of which serves as an extended tutorial. There are also scripted scenarios, impressively designed random maps with lots of options for game customization, and online multiplayer. The interface does a decent job putting control at your fingertips, offering up summaries of your heroes, armies, cities, and spells off to one side. A list of actions to take is provided each turn, and searchable in-game help is provided. Age of Wonders III has a quick pace, giving you something to do each turn. Each map has a large number of independent areas to find during exploration (though they usually do not post a threat), and quests can be provided by autonomous villages. City management is simplified to place focus on the military; buildings can be built to provide resources or unlock new units. Your leader can research new spells and empire-wide bonuses, and unlock new abilities through combat experience; additional heroes can also be hired to lead your troops. Units have a good amount of variety in attributes, although the same types of units are repeated across races and classes. Diplomatic options are limited with the ability to align or declare war with others. Tactical battles are intriguing, offering depth through unit abilities. The AI is passable: while computer opponents occasionally exhibit questionable strategies and tactics, they will take advantage of wounded units and undefended villages. Overall, Age of Wonders III is a dazzling sequel worthy of your time.