Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Planet Coaster Alpha 2 Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the second alpha update for Planet Coaster, a theme park management simulation by Frontier Developments.

In its current version, the game allows for construction of a theme park on several pre-made maps. Terrain can be modified, and various rides, buildings, and structures can be placed. Roller coaster layouts can also be designed, and several theming elements are present. The actual management aspects of the park (beyond simply designing and placing things) are still in development. Planet Coaster is planned for full release later this year.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Duskers Gameplay Review

I'm playing Duskers, a roguelike exploration survival game by Misfits Attic.

Drones are used to search derelict spaceships for supplies and clues regarding the demise of the human civilization. Specific objectives, other than simply searching more vessels, suggest which kinds of ships to take over in order to advance the story. Fuel is used to travel between galaxies, systems, and ships. Between missions, drone and ship upgrades can be swapped, repaired, or traded. Randomized ship layouts greatly increase replay value and apprehension in each mission, as hostile enemies can pounce and destroy. Drones can be directly controlled (using the arrow keys) or given typed commands, which is an alluring gameplay mechanic. Operating doors, gathering fuel or scrap, scanning the ship, enabling defenses, towing disabled drones, deploying motion sensors, sending out probes, attacking enemies, and blowing airlocks (plus other commands) are all performed through the console. The strategy in dealing with hostiles differs based on the limited abilities of the drones, further increasing mission variety. Though it can get repetitive, the immersion the theme provides and the replay value of the randomization makes Duskers captivating.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun Gameplay Review

I'm playing Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun, a turn-based strategy game by Byzantine Games and Slitherine.

From the developer of Pike and Shot and using the Battle Academy engine, the game has some nice features: a number of historical scenarios, campaigns where armies are moved around the map to capture provinces, randomized skirmishes, and asynchronous online multiplayer. Units include infantry (including samurai), powerful cavalry, and ranged units carrying arrows or gunpowder. Generals have a positive influence on surrounding units. Units can be instructed to move, turn (which consumes all of their action points), shoot, charge, or fall back. Once engaged in melee, units will remain engaged until one side routs. Because of this, flanking engaged units (especially with cavalry) is the best strategy for ultimate victory. Terrain can also be used to your advantage. Ranged units are generally useless as the damage they cause is very minimal and they can’t engage units in close combat. The AI is a capable opponent, regularly using effective flanking attacks. With a distinctive setting and theme, Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun expands and improves upon the developer’s previous title.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Mims Beginning Gameplay Review

I'm playing The Mims Beginning, a god game by Squatting Penguins.

The game featuring a campaign with varied mission objectives and a more open sandbox mode. The Psi tower is the base, where orders to the Mims are broadcast. Different plants and animals can be researched, grown, processed, and exported for gems (required to build new structures and expand the base). Electricity keeps things running, while defensive towers and armed units can fight off predators and pests attracted to the smell of food. Powers can also be used to support units and defend against enemies. Though relatively simplistic, The Mims Beginning is an approachable management game.

Friday, May 13, 2016

TASTEE: Lethal Tactics Gameplay Review

I'm playing TASTEE: Lethal Tactics, a turn-based strategy game by SkyBox Labs.

The game features challenging campaign missions where enemy numbers are superior; additional characters are unlocked but no upgrades are to be found. Skirmishes against relatively poor AI and online asynchronous battles are also available. The gameplay is an almost exact replica of Frozen Synapse: orders are issued to each unit, then five seconds of real time is played out before new orders can be made. Double-clicking adds a waypoint for a unit to follow, which right-clicking access the order menu. Commands include free fire, hold on sight, look, spring, crouch, and wait. The 3-D graphics make it more difficult to spot cover quickly. The only innovative feature is a roster of twelve mercenaries, divided into four weapon classes (shotgun, revolver, grenade, sniper) and each given a different special ability (faster sniper aiming, busting through walls, using flash grenades, et cetera). Still, unit special abilities and a 3-D presentation are not enough to differentiate TASTEE: Lethal Tactics from its obvious inspiration.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Stellaris Gameplay Review

I'm playing Stellaris, a real-time 4X space grand strategy game by Paradox Interactive.

Featuring single player skirmish games and multiplayer supporting up to 32 players, each empire can be customized with various genetic traits, ethical guidelines, travel methods, and cosmetic differences. Science ships are sent out with lead scientists (who level up) to survey planets for resources and habitability, to discover anomalies that can be researched, and to undertake special projects that trigger event chains. Colonizable planets are divided into tiles that can be manned by a population unit; buildings can be constructed to enhance the resources naturally produced by each tile. Pops can be allowed to migrate between planets and also form potentially dangerous factions (which can be combated with policies and edicts). Areas that cannot be colonized can still be mined for resources or research points (as long as they lie within the borders), giving “undesirable” systems an important use. There is a limit to how many planets can be directly controlled (which eliminates the late-game tedium of running a large empire); the remainder can be assigned to a sector, which is run by an AI leader whom automatically constructs buildings and gives an adjustable share of the resources back to the empire. Leaders can also conduct research and lead armies. There is no set research tree in Stellaris: rather, several semi-randomized choices (starting at three) are given at a time. Other empires can be interacted with, forming alliances, federations (an alliance with an elected leader), and trade agreements; ethical alignments influence relations greatly. War goals must be specified before a conflict starts, though the defender has a year to decide on their plan. Primitive civilizations can be studied for research points, while powerful fallen empires can affect the galaxy. Ships can be customized using the latest technology with the designer, or automatically upgraded designs can be chosen. Combat is automated, and planets can be invaded with armies after being bombarded from space. The AI seems to be very competent at managing an empire. Stellaris features a number of innovative features that makes it a very distinctive title in the space strategy genre.