Monday, January 26, 2015

Magnifico Gameplay Review

I'm playing Magnifico, a turn-based strategic board game by Mixel and Slitherine.

Lacking any type of multiplayer (online or local), the game features four maps (Europe, Germany, Asia, and America) for three or four players. The goal is to accumulate victory points by winning auctions, building castles, using auction cards, and controlling territory. Each province earns the owner money and units; money can be spent on unit upgrades in an auction, or used to build or upgrade castles, purchase units (tanks and planes), play cards, or invade surrounding territories. Magnifico supports multiple paths towards victory, a hallmark of a flexible strategy game. You are limited to only three invasions or attacks per turn, three moves per turn, and attacking with up to six units per type, so the game rules are slanted away from pure military domination. The attack does go first in combat, however, so it is possible to invade the enemy. The AI is a very competent opponent and plays the game well. While Magnifico does not offer large replay value due to missing multiplayer options, the gameplay is solid and inexpensive.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mechs & Mercs: Black Talons Gameplay Review

I'm playing Mechs & Mercs: Black Talons, a real-time tactical strategy game by Camel 101 and Kasedo Games.

The game features a poorly-balanced, linear single-player campaign; no skirmish or online content is available. The interface is basic and has limitations: there is no attack-move (units actually forget movement orders after engaging the enemy) and double-pressing a group hotkey does not move the camera to that particular unit. Orders are also placed near, but not specifically at, the mouse cursor location. Landing zones on the battlefield are used to call in addition troops, though there is a lengthy countdown timer, or add reinforcements to existing units. Captured resource pumps give more points for units, and computer terminals can be used by engineer units to control turrets, bridges, or doors. Units gain defensive bonuses hiding behind cover, while automatic weapons cause suppression and attack bonuses are gained for flanking the enemy. A range of infantry and mechanized units are found, differentiated by their weapons and movement speeds. Units are not very smart, which probably explains the lack of skirmish battles. Mechs & Mercs: Black Talons is highlighted by its lackluster campaign, lack of skirmish content, limited interface, and basic AI.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Deadnaut Gameplay Review

I'm playing Deadnaut, a role-playing squad-based tactics game by Screwfly Studios.

In the game, a squad of five intrepid explorers probe randomly-generated abandoned ships. Movement and basic interaction orders are issued, but crew members will engage the enemy and use items automatically. The interface resembles a military console, an immersive choice that does make it hard to see enemies sometimes. Squad members have varied stats and traits, and can be issued various weapons and items purchased using knowledge gained during missions. Combat is fast-paced and somewhat confusing. Deadnaut is a lighter tactics game featuring an engaging setting.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

NEO Scavenger Gameplay Review

I'm playing NEO Scavenger, a role-playing survival game by Blue Bottle Games.

Stranded in rural Michigan, the protagonist starts out with a selection of skills and traits. The interface isn’t streamlined as some actions require more clicking than should be necessary. Hunger, thirst, warmth, fatigue, and injuries must all be monitored closely in the unforgiving game world. Resources are found by scavenging hexes, and more advanced items can be crafted. In addition, vehicles and hacking opportunities are present. Encountering roaming hostiles (including bandits and dogs) triggers turn-based combat that involves choosing a specific action (run, charge, attack, take cover, talk) each turn. Seemingly random deaths can become annoying, but the large variety of items to find, challenging gameplay, hostile world, and immersive mechanics make NEO Scavenger a can’t-miss survival game.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Gates of Horizon Gameplay Review

I'm playing Gates of Horizon, a rmassively multiplayer online real-time space strategy game by Hex Keep.

The subscription-free MMO features cross-platform play in real-time, where a corporation is managed amongst the stars. The only activities currently are mining asteroids and attacking other ships (whether they are pirates or hostiles). Space stations can allow agents (whom pilot the ships) to trade (using a terrible interface) and learn new skills, though separate experience points for crafting, resource extraction, trade, and warfare lead to significant grind. Components can be placed on ships once the blueprints are learned, and several corporations can align in a holding. Overall, this light MMO is hindered by a glacial pace and lack of things to do.