Monday, October 26, 2015

Planetbase Gameplay Review

I'm playing Planetbase, a space colony management game by Madruga Works.

The game features three planets to colonize, unlocked by achieving important milestones. The interface does grant access to most stats through a couple of screens, but it needs to indicate how many of each structure has already been built. A number of buildings are available to generate water, power, and oxygen, mine raw resources, grow food, manufacture goods, and fulfill colonist needs. Each new structure needs to be connected to an existing building, and components can be added to most structures to specialize the production in each. Colonists and bots will automatically undertake the tasks required to keep the base running, eliminating micromanagement. Random disasters will strike the base, and additional colonists and trade vessels will arrive over time. While Planetbase is fairly entertaining the first time around, there isn’t enough variety in the buildings and components for subsequent colonies.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ashes of the Singularity Early Access Beta Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the early access beta of Ashes of the Singularity, a real-time strategy game by Oxide Games and Stardock Interactive.

The large-scale game features both single-player and online skirmishes, where players attempt to collect the most “turinium” resources or defeat all opponents. Each map has a fixed arrangement of supply lines that must be connected to the home base in order to collect resources; this convention allows players to cut-off enemy resource production. A huge number of units can be built, resulting in massive battles across expansive maps. Due to the high unit count, micromanagement is kept at a minimum. Ashes of the Singularity is planned for release in 2016.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Rogue State Gameplay Review

I'm playing Rogue State, a geopolitical simulation by Little Red Dog Games and Black Shell Media.

The task at hand is to run a newly-formed government, by appeasing the people through policies, construction, and military force. There are a number of different policies to enact and adjust, all of which have both positive and negative effects on the country and the four faction groups represented in the game. Infrastructure improvements will consume the majority of the cash flow, as new buildings will provide bonuses and increased relations. Diplomatic relations, including trade and intelligence, must also be maintained with other nations in the region and around the world. Military units can be purchased and deployed to quell the populace or invade neighbors. Rogue State has a unique setting for a political sim, but lacks that key feature to make it stand out among more comprehensive competition.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ancestory Gameplay Review

I'm playing Ancestory, a card-based turn-based strategy game by Kajak Games.

The objective is to reach the point limit first by capturing and holding totem locations and killing the enemy shaman. The game has a multiplayer focus, although there is a single player skirmish mode against an inconsistent AI opponent. The interface makes it difficult to rotate the camera and see around objects; there is also no “next unit” hotkey. The shaman cannot attack, but it can summon minions by playing cards. Mana fully refills each turn and the limit steadily expands, leading to quick games and a lack of stalemates. In addition to summoning minions, cards can also play spells or buffs onto the game board. While the AI needs improvement and there is limited card variety, Ancestory does offer some fast-paced, light strategic gaming.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Concrete Jungle Gameplay Review

I'm playing Concrete Jungle, a card-based city building puzzle game by ColePowered Games.

The game features a challenging campaign mode along with custom games (single player, competitive against the AI, or local multiplayer). The objective is to clear lines (similar to Tetris) by placing point-producing buildings and then collecting those points with houses. The cards have a variety of positive and negative point value zones, in addition to occasional side effects. Each card played steadily increases the number of points required to clear new rows, while some cards increase the economy to allow the purchase of specific cards. Adjacent buildings of the same type form blocks, which earn a point bonus. The game requires planning strategy and a bit of luck in getting the “right” cards, which can be mediated by deck building. Concrete Jungle is a unique take on the puzzle genre thanks to a neat theme and an original combination of familiar game mechanics.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Beyond Sol Gameplay Review

I'm playing Beyond Sol, a grand strategy action game by Praxia Entertainment.

Featuring both single-player and online gameplay, victory conditions include reacting economic, military, or diplomatic dominance in the galaxy. The interface uses the mouse for movement (right-click to change facing, middle mouse for thrusters, left-click to target) and the keyboard to activate abilities of the capital ship: a low precision, somewhat awkward scheme. The base city can be expanded by placing and upgrading buildings, while the empire territory is grown by constructing stations for mining or defense; each structure has specific monetary and resource requirements. Resources can also be spent recruiting intelligent wingmen or improving the ships. Empire strength escalation is relatively easy to attain as long as resources are dedicated in the right directions. Frequent, though repetitive, random events offer resources or battles against pirates. Each star system contains several AI factions that must be dealt with, but diplomatic options are very basic. Beyond Sol is a unique, though not completely satisfying, marriage of grand strategy and top-down action gameplay mechanics.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Prison Architect Gameplay Review

I'm playing Prison Architect, a jail management simulation by Introversion Software.

The game features an open sandbox mode (with optional, money-based objectives), a story mode that serves as an extended tutorial, and an escape mode that allows players to break out of others’ prisons. Prisons are laid out by placing foundations, walls, doors and objects, then designating rooms (offices, cells, kitchen, canteen, yard, shower, infirmary, and lots more). The interface does allow for planning before construction begins, but the inability to add text to a plan is a notable omission. Various rooms have electricity and water demands that must be met, and staff-only areas can be defined. Personnel can be hired to run the jail, from guards to psychologists to janitors, with additional options unlocked through research. Each inmate has numerous needs, such as food, hygiene, exercise, family, and recreation, that are met by adjusting the daily routine and constructing the appropriate rooms. A variety of reports gives information in the prison. Prison Architect is a detailed management game that could have a more user-friendly interface.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Blood Bowl 2 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Blood Bowl 2, a turn-based fantasy sports strategy game by Cyanide Studio and Focus Home Interactive.

The game features a campaign as an extended tutorial, online and offline leagues with custom format support, and friendly matches that lack permanent injuries. The match length cannot be altered from eight-turn-long halves. The interface could utilize hotkeys in addition to mouse-driven selection. The objective is to carry the ball into the end zone; each turn, every player can move or attack (one player can “blitz”, which allows for both). A turn ends when an unsuccessful action occurs, so it is important to complete more likely actions first. In addition to running, the ball can be passed once, players can be injured, and random events occur. Dice rolls are used frequently to determine blocking outcomes, dodging success, and extra movement. The AI seems fairly competent at the game, although they don’t block or attack offensive players often enough. With improved graphics and online league support, Blood Bowl 2 is exactly what you would expect to see in a sequel.