Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Prison Architect Gameplay Review

I'm playing Prison Architect, a jail management simulation by Introversion Software.

The game features an open sandbox mode (with optional, money-based objectives), a story mode that serves as an extended tutorial, and an escape mode that allows players to break out of others’ prisons. Prisons are laid out by placing foundations, walls, doors and objects, then designating rooms (offices, cells, kitchen, canteen, yard, shower, infirmary, and lots more). The interface does allow for planning before construction begins, but the inability to add text to a plan is a notable omission. Various rooms have electricity and water demands that must be met, and staff-only areas can be defined. Personnel can be hired to run the jail, from guards to psychologists to janitors, with additional options unlocked through research. Each inmate has numerous needs, such as food, hygiene, exercise, family, and recreation, that are met by adjusting the daily routine and constructing the appropriate rooms. A variety of reports gives information in the prison. Prison Architect is a detailed management game that could have a more user-friendly interface.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Blood Bowl 2 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Blood Bowl 2, a turn-based fantasy sports strategy game by Cyanide Studio and Focus Home Interactive.

The game features a campaign as an extended tutorial, online and offline leagues with custom format support, and friendly matches that lack permanent injuries. The match length cannot be altered from eight-turn-long halves. The interface could utilize hotkeys in addition to mouse-driven selection. The objective is to carry the ball into the end zone; each turn, every player can move or attack (one player can “blitz”, which allows for both). A turn ends when an unsuccessful action occurs, so it is important to complete more likely actions first. In addition to running, the ball can be passed once, players can be injured, and random events occur. Dice rolls are used frequently to determine blocking outcomes, dodging success, and extra movement. The AI seems fairly competent at the game, although they don’t block or attack offensive players often enough. With improved graphics and online league support, Blood Bowl 2 is exactly what you would expect to see in a sequel.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Train Valley Gameplay Review

I'm playing Train Valley, a railroad management puzzle game by Alexey Davydov, Sergey Dvoynikov, and Timofey Shargorodskiy.

Featuring both objective-based and open sandbox missions, the game involves placing track and then managing the movement of trains from their origin to destination. Laying track is a bit more cumbersome and less precise than I would have liked. Dispatched trains must be sent to the correct color-coded destination by throwing switches and halting locomotives that might collide. The click management aspects of the game provide stress, and the ability to design the layouts adds another layer to the puzzle game. While certainly not a typical management game, Train Valley provides approachable though repetitive thrills.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Armello Gameplay Review

I'm playing Armello, a role-playing strategic board game by League of Geeks.

The turn-based game features skirmish games against the AI and online contests with four anthropomorphic players; the game lacks games rules customization options. The victor can attain the highest prestige, collect spirit stones, or defeat the king directly. Action points are used to move between randomly-generated tiles, which offer different bonuses or penalties (income, health regeneration, health penalty, defensive bonus). Location-based quests offer safer and dangerous options, the latter of which grants powerful items or cards. Dungeons can also be explored (resulting in a simple dice roll for an outcome) and perils played by other players offer roll-based challenges. Cards include items that can be equipped for better dice rolls, spells, and “trickery” options. Each combatant is rated according to attack, health, card hand size, and spell capacity. Gold and mana are used to play cards, while rot damages each turn. Combat involves luck-based dice rolls that can be enhanced with cards. The AI makes some unintelligent, desperate moves and can be routinely defeated. While Armello does incorporate a lot of luck in getting the right cards and the right rolls, the presentation is unique and there is some underlying strategy to usurp the king and become the ruler of the land.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Renowned Explorers: International Society Gameplay Review

I'm playing Renowned Explorers: International Society, a strategic adventure game by Abbey Games.

The game includes some roguelike trappings, with randomized maps and optional permadeath. The crew includes three characters of varying abilities, all of which will come in handy during exploration. Resources are collected during expeditions; while maps are randomized, the same locations are utilized each game, which becomes repetitive. Supplies are limited as the team pushes across the island searching for the main treasure, and team resolve must be kept up as members are defeated. Each map includes locations that can grant random events, resources, perk-based challenges, shops, treasure, or encounters. The turn-based encounter battles utilize role-playing mechanics, with different attacks and buffs, but there is no “undo” button to alter erroneous movement choices. Between missions, resources are spent to increase stats and abilities: gold is used to purchase new equipment (weapons, armor), status is used to recruit an entourage that gives extra resources during missions, research unlocks other bonuses, and insight gained during missions is exchanged for resources. Renowned Explorers: International Society can be a challenging game, and while the theme is fantastic, repetitive locations and gameplay grow tired after several playthroughs.