Monday, December 23, 2013

Next Car Game Early Access Pre-Alpha Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the early access pre-alpha of Next Car Game, an arcade racing game by Bugbear Entertainment.

This early look at the game includes two cars, two tracks, and a demolition derby arena. Damage is as impressive as in the technology demo, and the handling physics strike a nice balance between arcade and realism. You can try out the early access pre-alpha by ordering the game on the official website.

GhostControl Inc. Gameplay Review

I'm playing GhostControl Inc., a paranormal management game by Bumblebee Games and Application Systems Heidelberg.

On the city map you can undertake new missions, hire additional ghost hunters with different attributes, purchase new equipment, recover health, and fuel your fine ghostbusting vehicle. The turn-based ghost battles require you to reduce their energy enough to trap them. Your view cannot be rotated, which can become quite bothersome when the game requires precise tile-based movement. There is some tactical depth in dividing up equipment and coordinating different actions, like using sensors and turning on lights. The ghost movement can be unpredictable, increasing the complexity of the mission structure. Though it lacks the depth of competing titles, GhostControl Inc. combines simple business management and capable tactical battles in a theme of obvious inspiration.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Starbound Beta Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the beta of Starbound, a sandbox platform game by Chucklefish Games.

The game, which can be played solo or online, takes place in an infinite procedurally generated universe of procedurally generated planets reached using your spaceship. A quest-based tutorial is included for new players. Planets are populated by varied terrain, dungeons, and randomized monsters. Structures and items can be built using collected resources. Technology upgrades and procedurally generated weapons can be found in chests scattered around each planet. Intuitive crafting can be searched for specific items, and clear resource requirements are displayed. Food must be hunted or farmed, and fires are used to combat the cold of night.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Darkout Gameplay Review

NOTE: Apparently I was supplied with a beta code for the game instead of the release version. While I cannot say for certain if the release version is more complete than the version I assessed, please keep that in mind while watching.

I'm playing Darkout, a sandbox survival platform game by Allgraf.

Landing on randomly generated alien worlds, darkness, where enemies lurk, is your foe. The interface provides quick access to crafting and research items, but makes it too easy to perform an unintended action like opening a door instead of attacking the enemy on top of a door, or accidentally dropping items instead of equipping them in the toolbar. Gathering resources is accomplished by mining and chopping down trees, but blocks must be refined before they can be placed. Ammunition, potions, machinery, furniture, lighting, storage, armor, weapons, and tools can all be constructed using the required ingredients. New items are researched using points earned by mining and crafting, though the game doesn’t specify what is needed for a particular research item until you have all the necessary prerequisites gathered by accident. Enemies must be harmed with light before they can be directly attacked. Although Darkout does have some novel ideas involving shadow, crafting, power, and resource collection, the game is not a fully polished experience and its various shortcomings do add up over time.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Not The Robots Gameplay Review

I'm playing Not The Robots, a roguelike stealth action game.

The campaign features procedurally generated levels of increasingly difficulty and permadeath; smaller sets of levels are present in “operations” and “challenges” modes. Your objective is to eat furniture (obviously), which you can hide behind to avoid lasers and sentries; as you eat more furniture to clear each level, you have less places to hide. Items that allow for sprinting, invisibility, or digging through walls (plus others) are available, secondary objectives become available as you progress, and permanent upgrades can be collected after clearing a level. Not The Robots is a challenging, unique entry in the stealth genre that increases replay value and tension through the roguelike features.

Monday, December 09, 2013

SteamWorld Dig Gameplay Review

I'm playing SteamWorld Dig, a mining platform game by Image & Form.

Your objective is to dig, collecting resources used to purchase equipment upgrades and tools like ladders, lanterns, teleporters, and expanded inventories. The depths are randomized, although you will encounter scripted caves where the game behaves more like a traditional platformer. You cannot rebind the controls; thus, a gamepad performs best as you wall jump and run through the expanse. Enemies with predictable behaviors only prove troublesome when poor excavation plans are carried out. Although digging down and traveling back to the surface can become tedious, SteamWorld Dig is an effective combination of mining and platform gaming.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Frozen Cortex Beta Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the beta of Frozen Endzone, a turn-based tactical future sports game by Mode 7 Games.

In the game, you issue move orders to robot players who must pass or run the ball into the endzone or an intermediate scoring zone, while the defense attempts to prevent the other team from scoring. Stationary players automatically block nearby rushers, and the defense will tackle the ball carrier or intercept close passes. Pre-ordering Frozen Endzone grants immediate beta access, and the game is scheduled for release in 2014.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Professional Farmer 2014 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Professional Farmer 2014, an agricultural simulation by PlayWay and UIG Entertainment.

A career mode begins with a tedious, repetitive tutorial that forces you to repeat the same tasks multiple times. A more open sandbox mode is suggested once you come to terms with the basics of the mechanics. Cooperative online play would be a nice addition. The large game world is nicely detailed, although buildings you need to access for goods are spaced too far apart for my tastes. The interface offers handy key binding reminders for each vehicle you control, which can be tractors, combines, and their various attachments (fertilizers, plows, cultivators, trailers, bailers). The agricultural shop sells seeds and animals, “petrol” is found at the gas station, and the bank can provide loans for expensive equipment. You can also spend your income on new fields and additional personnel to assist with the work. The gameplay mostly consists of driving back and forth across your fields using a different attachment each time: first a plow, then a cultivator, then a seed spreader, then a fertilizer, then a harvester, then a hay baler. It’s repetitive by its very nature; thus, only true fans of farming will derive any sense of enjoyment from Professional Farmer 2014.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Blasted Fortress Gameplay Review

I'm playing Blasted Fortress, an artillery action game by Dapper Swine Games.

Resources won by destroying castles are used to purchase replacement ammunition; this can lead to a dead-end if you run out of cannonballs and can’t destroy the additional castles required to purchase more cannonballs. Different ammunition types are appropriate for the varied defensive materials in the game, and optional objectives can unlock more research points. Growing food using meat-based plants will also allow for more advanced weaponry. You can design custom castles or play against human opponents, but only if your foe’s IP address is known in advance. The sieges offer uneven layout difficulties; more challenging designs will simply drain you of precious resources. Controls are simple as you adjust the angle and power of each shot. The repetitive nature of the game, along with unbalanced difficulty and resource collection that can permanently dwindle, make Blasted Fortress an artillery title to forget.