Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Constellation Distantia Gameplay Review

I'm playing Constellation Distantia, a space adventure game by Skånerbotten.

The game features a very exposition-heavy, completely linear campaign with no replay value and only one saved position. The controls are initially confusing, as you are only able to pilot the shuttle jet and not the mothership. A lack of concrete distance markers makes it far too easy to inadvertently run into planets and asteroids. The gameplay consists of achieving very specific objectives in each system before moving on to the next (there are no side missions or jobs to complete), usually involving mining resources, flying to checkpoints on the map, engaging enemy vessels, restrictively trading with other ships (simply swapping resources instead of selling mined goods for a profit), and researching ship upgrades. Constellation Distantia lacks an open-world feel, and the restrictiveness of the campaign with no room for improvisation is not inviting.

Monday, February 27, 2017

911 Operator Gameplay Review

I'm playing 911 Operator, an emergency dispatch simulation by Jutsu Games and PlayWay.

The game includes both a career mode and free missions; real world cities can be easily imported into the game, a neat feature. Between missions, new equipment and personnel can be purchased. The job entails assigning police, EMT, and firefighters to emergencies around the map; scripted calls require some work in determining the location and severity of each event. 911 Operator is quite challenging, due to the limited resources and number of simultaneous events that occur. The ability to play in any city around the globe is a very appealing feature in a generally acceptable management game.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

RimWorld Early Access Alpha Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the early access alpha of RimWorld, a colony management simulation by Ludeon Studios.

The current alpha (version 16) features several initial starting conditions, three AI storytellers that guide how often hostile units and events occur, a brief tutorial (though in-game hints and notifications are present), and randomized maps on which to settle. Each colonist has a very particular set of skills for cooking, medicine, research, and the like, some of which they are passionate about and will gain experience for more quickly. Colonists automatically undertake tasks (if they are allowed to perform that specific job), including resource collection, construction, crop maintenance, moving goods around, and crafting things. Colonists also exhibit complex moods based on their traits and surroundings. Each settlement can include houses, stockpiles, kitchens, dining rooms, workshops to produce goods, hospital rooms for healing the sick, power turbines to generate electricity, research labs to unlock new options, and freezers to preserve food. Hostile enemies will invade, so defenses must be constructed (the game utilizes cover); prisoners captured after a raid can be incorporated into society or harvested for organs (among other options). Overall, the game is more approachable that a lot of colony management simulations but still features rather deep mechanics in several areas.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Winds of Trade Gameplay Review

I'm playing Winds of Trade, a maritime trading simulation by Hermes Interactive.

The game features randomly generated maps that add to replay value. Adjustable difficulty settings change the frequency of pirate attacks, and varied victory conditions are also supported. Each map is dotted by colonies that produce specific goods that can be bought, transported to other colonies, and sold for a profit (hopefully). In addition, ships can be purchased, upgraded, or repaired, and captains with different buffs can be hired. Trading prices fluctuate realistically with supply and demand, though the interface could show regional prices on the colony warehouse screen for less clicking back and forth. More money can be earned by completing contracts for specific goods deliveries and purchasing stock in corporations. When pesky pirates are encountered, you can try to escape or engage in underwhelming turn-based battles. Overall, Winds of Trade is a fairly standard trading sim, although the use of random maps does give it some extended life.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

BRUT@L Gameplay Review

I'm playing BRUT@L, a roguelike role-playing game by Stormcloud Games and Rising Star Games.

Taking its inspiration from old-school ASCII-based dungeon crawlers, BRUT@L features both single-player and cooperative modes of play in its procedurally generated dungeons (rooms are scripted but arranged randomly) with permedeath. A dungeon editor is also included for more customized death traps. The interface is designed for a gamepad (consoles are clearly the priority here), which makes navigating the game more limited than necessary on the PC. The protagonist can be moved around each level, melee attack, use weapons (once crafted), block attacks, and execute a special move. Lots of items can be picked up and used to regain health,  craft potions, or enchant items. Experience gained from smashing things is used to unlock new skills. Enemies are varied and offer different challenges. BRUT@L is a fairly standard roguelike differentiated by its theme, cooperative features, and map editing capabilities.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Sovereignty: Crown of Kings Gameplay Review

I'm playing Sovereignty: Crown of Kings, a turn-based fantasy strategy game by The Lordz Games Studio and Slitherine.

The game takes place on a single map where a realm and objectives (a storyline for that particular realm, or a conquest mode) are selected. The interface is quite average, making things like trading goods slightly more difficult than necessary. Provinces provide gold income that can be used to recruit troops or construct buildings. Special resources (like horses, wine, wool, crafts) are required to construct buildings and better units, so larger empires are heavily favored in the game. Armies consist of stacks of units (infantry, irregular, archer, cavalry, naval, or siege) of a set maximum quantity; gold income is plentiful enough to raise a large army quickly, but special resource restrictions inhibit the recruitment of better units by smaller empires. Research points can be used to unlock magic spells. Diplomatic options include trade, defensive treaties, alliances, declaring war, and espionage. Tactical battles are uninspired, while the AI seems to be a capable enough opponent. Sovereignty: Crown of Kings is a more simplified game than Dominions or Crusader Kings, and depth and replayability suffer because of that.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Eador: Imperium Gameplay Review

I'm playing Eador: Imperium, a role-playing turn-based fantasy strategy game by Snowbird Games.

This game improves little over Eador: Masters of the Broken World: just a new campaign and a couple of new units. Randomized maps give replay value, though multiplayer has been removed. Heroes lead armies around the map, gaining experience and items as battles are won. Spells can also prove to be useful during combat for magic-focused leaders. Most buildings are constructed in the stronghold, although the occasional structure can be placed outside of the starting castle to enhance resource income. Locations in each province can be explored for loot and experience, but usually are guarded by powerful foes. Tactical battles are uninteresting until magic gets involved, and the AI seems to be competent enough. As Eador: Imperium adds nothing of great value to the series and problems from the previous game remain (namely an extremely unbalanced early game), this entry into the Eador series can be skipped.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Minos Strategos Gameplay Review

I'm playing Minos Strategos, a turn-based strategy game by BrainGoodGames.

Utilizing a rank system that steadily increases difficulty with each victory, the objective is to capture locations before the enemy does. Each turn, one soldier can be moved or a new unit placed onto the map. In addition, a command card can be played to perform a special action (some combination of attack and unit placement), but only if soldiers are in a specified formation. Different enemies behave in varied ways, increasing the strategy required to be successful. Minos Strategos is a challenging strategy game that features a good variety of cards and enemies.