Thursday, July 30, 2015

Guild of Dungeoneering Gameplay Review

I'm playing Guild of Dungeoneering, a turn-based role-playing game by Gambrinous and Versus Evil.

Each dungeon-based mission comes with explicit objectives and most are fairly difficult; characters (who always start each adventure at level one) must be equipped with loot taken from low-level enemies before engaging the boss. The dungeon layout is expanded each turn by playing cards to add rooms, enemies, or loot. There is no direct control over the heroes, so they must be enticed to move in the optimal direction. Thus, luck plays a big part in getting the “right” cards to slowly build up the hero. Card-based battles resolve conflicts: there is a good variety of cards to play that deal or block magical and physical damage, with some other special properties. The guild can be expanded by using gold to purchase new rooms that unlock additional adventurers and items. Overall, Guild of Dungeoneering is a unique, though repetitive, take on the dungeon crawler.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Swindle Gameplay Review

I'm playing The Swindle, a roguelike platform game by Size Five Games.

The objective is to avoid the guards and hack computers that contain lots of money. Each level is procedurally generated, and increase in difficulty as more neighborhoods are unlocked. Cash is spent on upgrades in many areas, including agility, abilities, tools, and sensors. Character death is permanent (but robots are replaced for no charge); losing a character doesn’t matter too much as all upgrades are retained, although keeping a robot alive for several (or more!) levels provides a cash bonus. The controls are typical for a side-scrolling platform game, with double jumps and wall grabs. Enemies comes in different varieties: guards, cameras, bots, mines, and more. The line-of-sight indicators are extremely helpful in avoiding antagonists or timing attacks. The game mechanics strike a balance between platforming skill and strategy in approaching each new scenario, and losing doesn’t hurt thanks to the roguelike traits. Incorporating randomized levels and permadeath, The Swindle is a compelling platform game with a great theme.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Executive Assault Gameplay Review

I'm playing Executive Assault, a real-time strategy game by Hesketh Studios.

The game features skirmish games (no campaign) against the AI or online on just six maps supporting two or four players. The bare interface lacks typical RTS features like hotkey groups. It is also essentially impossible to visually find important crystal locations scattered around the map. Iron is the main resource, extracted from the ground and used to construct buildings and units. Buildings must be connected to the only power plant by pylons, and the power balance can be distributed between different systems. Units include bots, tanks, mechs, and aircraft; units can be equipped with researched weapons and armor. Research involves a fairly extensive series of trees covering weapons, buildings, and special abilities. Units can be directly controlled in a first-person view; it is pretty fun to lead a mass of units to storm the enemy base. But, despite the novelty of directly controlling units, limited features, an insufficient interface, and basic mechanics severely hinder Executive Assault.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Worms World Party Remastered Gameplay Review

I'm playing Worms World Party Remastered, a turn-based strategy game by Team17.

This remastered version adds higher-resolution graphics (but only during a match; the menus remain very much low-res), improved sound, controller support, and Steam features (like cloud saves, leaderboards, and achievements). The rest of the game is identical to the original: a feature-filled smorgasbord and the best Worms game overall. Single player and local multiplayer scenarios consist of missions and deathmatch on randomized or custom terrain with flexible weapons, items, timing, and game rules. Online multiplayer utilizes antiquated IRC chat for matchmaking. The familiar weapons spread makes its return: bazookas, grenades, guns, air strikes, teleporters, melee attacks, and flying sheep all make an appearance. The AI still serves as good opposition. Still, due to the inconsistent resolutions and odd online features, Worms World Party Remastered is a meager update to a fantastic game.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sorcerer King Gameplay Review

I'm playing Sorcerer King, a turn-based fantasy 4X strategy game by Stardock Entertainment.

This asymmetrical game involves defeating the powerful Sorcerer King, supposedly the victor of a 4X game that took place right before this scenario begins. Options include six leaders with different skill sets and randomized maps. New cities, used to produce units, can only be placed on fertile land, while outposts can be placed anywhere to gather fixed resources: magic shards (which produce research, mana, and upgrades) or crystal, metal, and horses to produce specific units. Heroes and units gain experience through battle and level up, while items for units can be crafted and enchanted. Powerful spells can also be used on the main map or during tactical battles. Diplomacy with other surviving factions is primarily conducted by completing quests; unification is essentially required to have enough power to defeat the sorcerer king. The AI is quite good and offers a unique, unbalanced challenge. Sorcerer King does offer a different take on the 4X game, but the streamlined mechanics may be too simplified for true long-term enjoyment considering other strong options in the genre.