Wednesday, February 22, 2017

RimWorld Early Access Alpha Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the early access alpha of RimWorld, a colony management simulation by Ludeon Studios.

The current alpha (version 16) features several initial starting conditions, three AI storytellers that guide how often hostile units and events occur, a brief tutorial (though in-game hints and notifications are present), and randomized maps on which to settle. Each colonist has a very particular set of skills for cooking, medicine, research, and the like, some of which they are passionate about and will gain experience for more quickly. Colonists automatically undertake tasks (if they are allowed to perform that specific job), including resource collection, construction, crop maintenance, moving goods around, and crafting things. Colonists also exhibit complex moods based on their traits and surroundings. Each settlement can include houses, stockpiles, kitchens, dining rooms, workshops to produce goods, hospital rooms for healing the sick, power turbines to generate electricity, research labs to unlock new options, and freezers to preserve food. Hostile enemies will invade, so defenses must be constructed (the game utilizes cover); prisoners captured after a raid can be incorporated into society or harvested for organs (among other options). Overall, the game is more approachable that a lot of colony management simulations but still features rather deep mechanics in several areas.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Winds of Trade Gameplay Review

I'm playing Winds of Trade, a maritime trading simulation by Hermes Interactive.

The game features randomly generated maps that add to replay value. Adjustable difficulty settings change the frequency of pirate attacks, and varied victory conditions are also supported. Each map is dotted by colonies that produce specific goods that can be bought, transported to other colonies, and sold for a profit (hopefully). In addition, ships can be purchased, upgraded, or repaired, and captains with different buffs can be hired. Trading prices fluctuate realistically with supply and demand, though the interface could show regional prices on the colony warehouse screen for less clicking back and forth. More money can be earned by completing contracts for specific goods deliveries and purchasing stock in corporations. When pesky pirates are encountered, you can try to escape or engage in underwhelming turn-based battles. Overall, Winds of Trade is a fairly standard trading sim, although the use of random maps does give it some extended life.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

BRUT@L Gameplay Review

I'm playing BRUT@L, a roguelike role-playing game by Stormcloud Games and Rising Star Games.

Taking its inspiration from old-school ASCII-based dungeon crawlers, BRUT@L features both single-player and cooperative modes of play in its procedurally generated dungeons (rooms are scripted but arranged randomly) with permedeath. A dungeon editor is also included for more customized death traps. The interface is designed for a gamepad (consoles are clearly the priority here), which makes navigating the game more limited than necessary on the PC. The protagonist can be moved around each level, melee attack, use weapons (once crafted), block attacks, and execute a special move. Lots of items can be picked up and used to regain health,  craft potions, or enchant items. Experience gained from smashing things is used to unlock new skills. Enemies are varied and offer different challenges. BRUT@L is a fairly standard roguelike differentiated by its theme, cooperative features, and map editing capabilities.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Sovereignty: Crown of Kings Gameplay Review

I'm playing Sovereignty: Crown of Kings, a turn-based fantasy strategy game by The Lordz Games Studio and Slitherine.

The game takes place on a single map where a realm and objectives (a storyline for that particular realm, or a conquest mode) are selected. The interface is quite average, making things like trading goods slightly more difficult than necessary. Provinces provide gold income that can be used to recruit troops or construct buildings. Special resources (like horses, wine, wool, crafts) are required to construct buildings and better units, so larger empires are heavily favored in the game. Armies consist of stacks of units (infantry, irregular, archer, cavalry, naval, or siege) of a set maximum quantity; gold income is plentiful enough to raise a large army quickly, but special resource restrictions inhibit the recruitment of better units by smaller empires. Research points can be used to unlock magic spells. Diplomatic options include trade, defensive treaties, alliances, declaring war, and espionage. Tactical battles are uninspired, while the AI seems to be a capable enough opponent. Sovereignty: Crown of Kings is a more simplified game than Dominions or Crusader Kings, and depth and replayability suffer because of that.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Eador: Imperium Gameplay Review

I'm playing Eador: Imperium, a role-playing turn-based fantasy strategy game by Snowbird Games.

This game improves little over Eador: Masters of the Broken World: just a new campaign and a couple of new units. Randomized maps give replay value, though multiplayer has been removed. Heroes lead armies around the map, gaining experience and items as battles are won. Spells can also prove to be useful during combat for magic-focused leaders. Most buildings are constructed in the stronghold, although the occasional structure can be placed outside of the starting castle to enhance resource income. Locations in each province can be explored for loot and experience, but usually are guarded by powerful foes. Tactical battles are uninteresting until magic gets involved, and the AI seems to be competent enough. As Eador: Imperium adds nothing of great value to the series and problems from the previous game remain (namely an extremely unbalanced early game), this entry into the Eador series can be skipped.