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.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Rocket League Gameplay Review

I'm playing Rocket League, a vehicle sports game by Psyonix.

Adding rocket-propelled cars to association football, the five-minute-long matches are the perfect length. The game scales from 1v1 to 4v4, although three-on-three seems to be the best balance. A season mode and exhibition games can be played against the AI, while training modes teach the basics. Online play features very enjoyable cross-platform multiplayer between the PC and PS4 with dedicated servers; however, there is no server browser, no online leagues, and server functionality has been hit-or-miss. Things move fast in the world of Rocket League: jumping and dodging are key to maneuvering the gigantic ball to its desired destination. Rockets can also be used to speed up and temporarily fly through the air. The third-person game can be disorienting, so the “ball cam” view is useful in keeping track of the action. Rocket League also employs a plausible physics engine. The AI is not a good enough substitute for human competition: teammates are incompetent and unpredictable on the highest difficulty setting (the opponents are skilled, however), while everyone is inept on the medium setting. Interestingly, the AI is extremely good as a fill-in online with two human teammates. Much better as an online game, Rocket League spices up the soccer formula with fast-paced, chaotic action, but lacks solid AI required for an enjoyable offline experience when the servers are not working.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Vector Thrust Gameplay Review

I'm playing Vector Thrust, a combat flight simulator by TimeSymmetry and Iceberg Interactive.

Plentiful game modes highlight the title, with a thirteen-mission story-driven campaign, random quick action battles, customizable skirmishes, and online multiplayer. A difficult challenge mode (due to short time requirements to complete objectives) is used to unlock new aircraft: forty-five models feature 260 playable versions. Controls are definitely on the arcade side: simplified and streamlined for action. Missiles are most effective from the front or back, and guns are appropriate for close range. The AI does a good job attacking from behind. Vector Thrust brings a challenging, feature-filled, action-oriented approach to the combat flight simulator.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Pizza Express Gameplay Review

I'm playing Pizza Express, a restaurant management simulation by Onni Interactive and Black Shell Media.

The game allows for flexibility in adjusting the pizzas and menus, elevating the mechanics past a typical click-management affair. In addition, the aspiring restaurateur must plan out ingredient orders in advance and carefully balance supplies versus waste product. Additional options for advertising drive in new customers, for a price. Overall, the customization options in Pizza Express increase the appeal of the title.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Devouring Stars Gameplay Review

I'm playing Devouring Stars, a real-time strategy game by Nerial and BulkyPix.

The game features a series of scenarios in a campaign mode, or limited competitive online and local multiplayer. The objective is to get to the exit portal. Units grow in size by devouring stars; combat is automated, and the unit with the most stars wins. Units can be combined to form more powerful units with improved speed and harvesting capabilities. The AI comes with no complaints. Overall, Devouring Stars is a bit too streamlined, as it lacks the depth of other real-time strategy games.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Lethis - Path of Progress Gameplay Review

I'm playing Lethis - Path of Progress, a city building simulation by Triskell Interactive.

Featuring a campaign with twenty-six very challenging missions (that cannot be skipped over) and a sandbox mode lacking custom and randomized maps, Lethis - Path of Progress takes the city builder to a steampunk Victorian age. The interface is very basic, with some overlays for map-based data; the game doesn’t tell you which types of buildings have collapsed, which is extremely frustrating. A good variety of different structures can be placed: housing, food, industry, storage, services, and decorations. However, a number of problems inhibit the gameplay. First, idiotic randomized worker movement make buildings much less efficient. Secondly, buildings collapse far too often (even with a maintenance shed close by). This will crash the town economy exponentially: less workers means less services, then more workers leave (due to a decrease in services) causing even less services, and so on. Lethis - Path of Progress is a promising city builder ruined by ignorant AI workers and a turbulent economy.