Friday, January 30, 2015

Starship Rubicon Gameplay Review

I'm playing Starship Rubicon, a roguelike arcade space shooter by Joseph "Wick" Perry and Cheerful Ghost.

Featuring a randomized universe and a single life, additional starting ship types and weapons are unlocked by spending points earned by blasting enemies into tiny pieces. Items found during each game can also be attached to the ship using a Tetris-style interface. Thrust moves you in the direction of mouse-driven aiming, with additional boost and a special ability reserved for sticky situations. The difficulty is high, but loot drops and allies can make encounters slightly easier. The ship design and roguelike elements of Starship Rubicon, in addition to constant action and fluid controls, elevate it above the typical arcade space shooter.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Grey Goo Gameplay Review

I'm playing Grey Goo, a real-time strategy game by Petroglyph and Grey Box.

Featuring a typical, linear fifteen-mission campaign and skirmish matches (both against the AI and online) limited to two or four players on only eight maps,  the highlight of Grey Goo is distinctive three factions: the expansionist Beta, defensive Humans, and mobile Goo. The interface is usually fantastic, offering quick access to economic status, build orders, and automated production. A single resource is collected at fixed locations on the map, used to place factories and other buildings, construct units (a typical assortment of infantry, tank, artillery, and flying options), and research tech upgrades. Maps also contain brush where units can hide. The AI is not smart unless they are given an economic boost on “high” difficulty, and friendly units have trouble attacking while moving and prioritizing enemy units over static defensive structures. Grey Good has some innovative features but a handful of limitations as well.

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.

Friday, January 09, 2015

National Zombie Park Gameplay Review

I'm playing National Zombie Park, a survival game by Paper Games.

Featuring both single player and online play (although how to actually connect to a multiplayer match is a mystery), low health means death is just around the corner. Movement in the top-down game is only performed in four directions (not towards the mouse cursor); additional keys are used to pick up and use items and weapons. A passable selection of weapons experience excruciatingly slow reload times, problematic when the zombie hoard is inches away. With a rough, unpolished presentation, National Zombie Park is a seemingly incomplete game.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Warhammer Quest Gameplay Review

I'm playing Warhammer Quest, a turn-based role-playing game by Rodeo Games and Chilled Mouse.

The single-player game features a part of four heroes that can adventure through three maps; additional heroes can be purchased for $3 each (in addition of $15 for the base game). Enemies must be disposed of by the members of the party while traveling through each dungeon. Warhammer Quest is definitely a mobile port, with no tool-tips and left-click-only commands (including click-and-hold). Each member of the party must move then attack using melee, ranged, or magical options. Items acquired along the way can be equipped or sold at the market. Warhammer Quest is a seemingly faithful adaptation of the board game designed for mobile devices but not the PC.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Elegy for a Dead World Gameplay Review

I'm playing Elegy for a Dead World, a narrative exploration game by Dejobaan Games.

In three settings, writing prompts (with fill-in-the-blank structure) or freeform prose are used in conjunction with the background scenery to inspire creativity. While not for everyone, Elegy for a Dead World is certainly unique and a capable creative outlet.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Scrolls Gameplay Review

I'm playing Scrolls, a card collecting strategy game by Mojang.

The goal is to destroy three of the enemy’s five idols. A tutorial teaches the basics of the game (but is vague on deeper strategy), with single player and online matches both available. Coins earned by playing matches can be spent on new cards (or you can invest real money to quicken the process). Creatures, structures, enchantments, and spells can be played onto the game board, each with different attack, health, and cooldown ratings; some cards also have special abilities. One card can be sacrificed each turn to increase the amount of resources earned per turn or draw two new cards. Units can be moved once per turn to adjacent tiles, which helps to increase strategic options. While not a groundbreaking title, Scrolls is a solid addition to the card-based strategy genre.