Monday, February 29, 2016

Talisman: The Horus Heresy Gameplay Review

I'm playing Talisman: The Horus Heresy, a turn-based board game by Nomad Games.

Bringing the board game rules to the Warhammer universe, games feature up to four players (AI, hotseat, or online) playing as loyalist or traitor warlords. The interface, and important aspect of a board game adaptation, could be improved: flashy backgrounds and glowing icons are used instead of clearly displaying more useful information. Warlords leaders have several attributes that are improved with experience, determining health, attack ratings, and special abilities. On the trip towards the center of the map, each sector contains cards that can grant friendly (or enemy) units, equipment, or events to help improve stats and take on the final threat. Although the game is not terribly different from the original Talisman, The Horus Heresy does mix things up a little with alignment rules and themes important to ardent fans of Warhammer.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

SUPERHOT Gameplay Review

I'm playing SUPERHOT, a first-person shooter by SUPERHOT Team.

The hook: time only moves when you do. This unique mechanic does hold interest over the two-hour-long story mode, extended by challenges and an endless mode. Most strategies involve throwing weapons at enemies, stunning them and then using their weapons against them; switching into enemy bodies is enabled later in the story. The time-based gameplay does produce some memorable bullet-dodging, precise, acrobatic gameplay, with one-shot kills. Although the game does become repetitive and doesn’t really warrant long play sessions, the key mechanic in SUPERHOT is memorable enough to interest those looking for something different in the realm of first-person shooters.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Flame in the Flood Gameplay Review

I'm playing The Flame in the Flood, a roguelike survival game by The Molasses Flood.

America has flooded and it is the job of the protagonist to survive. While floating down the river, solid objects must be avoided while piloting, and randomly generated locations appear. These include campgrounds, churches, bait shops, and wilderness, and they are explored for supplies to maintain food, water, clothing, and sleep levels. Fairly extensive but straightforward crafting involves combining items to create tools, clothes, cooked food, medicine, traps, and other items, but limited inventory slots between the backpack, dog, and raft means everything cannot be kept. A detailed injury system requires specific remedies, while completing side objectives awards items. Very aggressive enemies like boars and wolves should be avoided unless appropriate weapons or traps have been crafted. The Flame in the Flood is challenging without being unfair, and it is not tedious to start a new game since locations and items are randomized for increased replay value. The result is a very compelling, engaging, and demanding survival game.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

No Pineapple Left Behind Gameplay Review

I'm playing No Pineapple Left Behind, a school management simulation by Subaltern Games.

As principal, schools must be managed to turn a profit while achieving tedious, annoying objectives. The student population consists of humans and pineapples. While humans have a set of personal traits, social traits, and quests that affect their grades (usually negatively but occasionally in a positive way), pineapples only take tests and get grades, making them far easier to manage (the satire being that school districts treat students as “pineapples”, simply a number that takes tests, a depressing reality I can attest to as a high-school teacher). Parent phone calls also give daily learning objectives for specific students. Teachers are hired to cast spells (lessons) on their students, which will increase grades while decreasing humanity (slowly turning all students into pineapples) if successful; spells have a higher chance of success if the teacher has more energy, which is replenished based on salary. Lasers can also be used to alter the attributes of specific students. Experience earned while teaching can unlock new spells and lasers. The interface is a bit limited with the ability to display only one informational screen at a time. A careful balance of successful spells and adjusting teacher pay to the minimum required to replenish just enough energy for the next school day (or simply firing them for no reason and replacing them with a cheaper alternative, another commentary on the current state of public education) is the key to budgetary success. No Pineapple Left Behind is a successful satire of education, but repetitive strategies and frustrating objectives make it less successful as a game.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Plantera Gameplay Review

I'm playing Plantera, a click management game by VaragtP.

Crops, bushes, trees, and animals are placed and grow over time, producing objects that can be clicked on for money to purchase more items. More profitable crops unlock over time, and the farm can be expanded to the sides, which allows for greater profits but involves more terrain to monitor. Blue helpers will slowly collect items automatically, but all ripe crops can be manually clicked on to harvest and collect. Predators, such as birds, bunnies, wolves, and moles, must be clicked on to scare them away. The game gets fairly chaotic and crowded once the farm expands, producing an engaging click management game.

Monday, February 08, 2016

American Truck Simulator Gameplay Review

I'm playing American Truck Simulator, a driving and management simulation by SCS Software.

The game currently features two states (California and Nevada), with Arizona added for free later and additional states as DLC. Only two truck models are initially available, although more are coming in the future as well. The game is largely the same as Euro Truck 2: transporting goods through one-off contracts or running a company, hiring other drivers to earn additional money, and expanding the enterprise over time. Experience earned while driving can be spent to unlock the ability to transport more precious cargo further distances. The interface and overall driving experience is essentially identical; that said, American Truck Simulator is just as enjoyable and hypnotic as its predecessor. Although the game is more like an extensive modification than a full sequel, it is priced appropriately and fans of Euro Truck 2 will feel right at home on the roads of California and Nevada.

Monday, February 01, 2016

10 Minute Barbarian Gameplay Review

I'm playing 10 Minute Barbarian, a turn-based strategy game by Studio Puffer.

The goal is to capture as many castles and villages before the demon apocalypse, which allows for maximum army recruitment when fighting the forces of evil. One death is allowed per randomized map. Units include peasants, knights, archers, cavalry, and larger special units; population caps can be upgraded using gold. The mostly automated battles do allow for limited interaction, like placing dragon attacks or giving orders to cavalry units. The games are quick and there is strategy in deciding where to reinforce next, giving 10 Minute Barbarian a light strategic feel.