Friday, January 26, 2018

Railway Empire Gameplay Review

I'm playing Railway Empire, a transportation management simulation by Gaming Minds Studios and Kalypso Media.



The game features a pleasant number of game modes, with a five-mission campaign, eleven scenarios with challenging objectives, a free mode where you can play in any region in 20-year increments, and a sandbox mode without AI opponents. The same maps are used for each game region, restricting replayability a tad by not randomizing resource locations. After placing stations near cities, farms, and mines, waypoint-based rails are placed to shuttle the trains back and forth. Signals can be used to direct traffic, and supply towers are needed to keep trains running at maximum speed. If citizen needs in a city are met, they grow, producing more money and unlocking additional industries. Personnel can be hired to buff trains, and research can be conducted to unlock new trains and enhance abilities. Once the map is full of trains, money can be invested in industry and stock of the competitors. The AI builds quickly and provides a good opponent. While Railway Empire might not be the complete heir apparent to the Railroad Tycoon series, it is an enjoyable management game with a good amount of content.



Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Valknut Gameplay Review

I'm playing Valknut, a city building simulation by Dyrnwyn Games.



The game features a ten-mission campaign, randomly generated skirmish modes, and a three-scenario tutorial (although you can’t access the third mission). The interface is entirely too small at high resolutions, there a limited keyboard hotkeys for performing actions, you have to manually rotate buildings (it won’t figure out the correct orientation on its own), and informative tool-tips about population and resources are not present (I have no idea what half of the icons mean, nor how many people work in a building or live in a house). Raw resources (wood, iron, stone, clay) are collected at certain buildings and processed at others (pottery, jewelry, rope, tools); only certain resources can be produced on each island (typically limited to specific crops), which may have had interesting strategic repercussions if the rest of the game was better. People randomly die due to hypothermia or starvation before you have a chance to build the appropriate buildings and even if sufficient supplies are available. Also, resource stocks can fail to grow (especially wood) with no indication as to why (is the wood being used? do you not have enough population to collect wood? is there an extra processing step?). Valknut is an unfinished game that doesn’t provide enough information on how your town is running.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Nantucket Gameplay Review

I'm playing Nantucket, a role-playing seafaring strategy game by Picaresque Studio and Fish Eagle.




Taking place during the height of whaling, the core of the game is business management: hunt whales, earn money, trade goods, hire crew, and upgrade the ship. Quests are available to search specific locations for new whales or find lost ships. Whaling areas are not randomized each game, which drastically reduces replay value (my only major complaint about the game). Naval encounters are resolved using cards and dice rolls: each crewmember has a chance of rolling a card each turn, which can attack enemies or buff friendly units. More experience crewmembers will have access to more interesting options for their cards, and striking a good balance of offensive and defensive possibilities is a core strategy of the game. Overall, Nantucket offers a unique setting for the business management game with satisfying, though repetitive, card-based battle resolution.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Sky Is Arrows Gameplay Review

I'm playing Sky Is Arrows, a role-playing action strategy game by 2,000 Damage and Sometimes You.



NOTE: The "P" key pauses the game. I am not good at reading directions.

A mixture of roguelike, action role-playing game, and real-time strategy game, the goal is to explore randomly generated levels to find the enemy castle that must be defeated before moving on to the next map. In each map, there are enemy encounters, loot chests, and items to provide bonuses. Gold can be spent to recruit new troops or improve your castle (to defend against the occasional enemy attack), and experience points are used to upgrade the stats of the hero. The game is light on features (you can’t save or pause the game (though each match is short, 15 minutes at the most), the maximum resolution is 1080, and hotkeys cannot be changed), though there is a selection of heros with different spells and the maps are different every time. Real-time battles are chaotic, namely because it is difficult to control troops (partially because they move on their own, and partially due to the control scheme that can’t be altered) and using spells can be imprecise. You never feel like you are totally in control of the battles, which makes them lose some appeal. While Sky Is Arrows has a unique combination of mechanics, the features and battles are lacking.