Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Graveball Gameplay Review

I'm playing Graveball, an action sports game by Goin’ Yumbo and 3D Realms.

The game focuses on online 3v3 matches: while there is a practice mode against AI bots, the game lacks a league or career mode and game customization options (such as game length or rules tweaks). The goal is to keep the ball in the end zone for two seconds or shoot the ball through a ring. Opponents can be attacked and killed, turning into ghosts that move quickly and invisibly around the map and can respawn anywhere. You can also commit suicide to turn into a ghost and quickly traverse the arena and sneak up on the opposition. Additional options include throwing weapons, jumping and diving to avoid attacks, and sprinting. It is sometimes hard to tell what’s going on (likely on purpose), and Graveball never features any lulls against the competent AI. While Graveball is an action-packed, albeit chaotic, sports game, the reliance on an online community and deficiency in single player features potentially hurt long-term enjoyment.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Train Sim World Gameplay Review

I'm playing Train Sim World, a locomotive simulation by Dovetail Games.

The game is a collection of the base release plus three expansions, for a total of four routes with eight trains: Leipzig, London, New York, and Pennsylvania. A total of twenty-five scenarios are included, which last from 20 minutes to several hours. There is no time acceleration in the game, so a three-hour scenario lasts three real hours. In addition, if a scenario is finished ahead of schedule, you still have to wait at the station until the full time expires. Very simple tutorials are included for each train, and help is not extended to the scenarios: the game won’t tell you why the train is not moving, for example. Beyond the scenarios, there are many services that can be completed, but you can’t customize them and they usually involve the entire lengthy route, just at different times of day. Controls are performed using the mouse to click on the actual levers inside each train, keyboard shortcuts, or a gamepad. Each train is similar (throttle, brake, reverser) but also different enough to allow for confusion when changing models. While there is track switching, adding or releasing cars, using the turntable, and (of course) blowing the horn, most of the scenarios simply involve following the speed limit, stopping at certain places, and watching the scenery pass. The in-game map lacks any sort of detail to immerse you into the game, just showing the route and surrounding trains. Train Sim World is a seemingly accurate simulation, but a lack of time acceleration, no scenario flexibility, abbreviated help, and less content compared to other, more established simulations keeps the game at the station.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Radiis Gameplay Review

I'm playing Radiis, a turn-based strategy game by Urban Goose Games.

The game features a campaign with pre-designed maps that teaches the basics of the gameplay. While the skirmish mode does offer randomized maps, there is also a map editor and content can be shared through Steam Workshop. The objective is to secure most of the map’s hexes by placing buildings to capture surrounding territory. Population in each hex grows over time (to a maximum determined by the tile type), earning more money to spend on more buildings. Buildings can also be purchased using points earned by capturing unclaimed territory and destroying enemy structures. The building roster offers several options for expansion, with structures that provide population growth, destroy enemy buildings, or remove opposing population from the area. The AI is very competent at the game, using solid strategies that require some thinking to defeat. Radiis utilizes simple mechanics but still contains interesting decisions regarding which buildings to use and when.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Dig or Die Gameplay Review

I'm playing Dig or Die, a sandbox survival game by Gaddy Games.

The game supports both single player and online multiplayer where the goal is to build a rocket to escape the planet. Each procedurally generated world features the same regions where you can find specific resources and enemies. Crafting is set up in tiers, and unlocking the next set of items requires visiting a particular area and finding the necessary resources. Nightly attacks come from all of the enemy types you have previously engaged, requiring the construction of a base with turrets and one or two entrances to funnel the hostiles in one at a time. Building and water physics means rainfall and stressed bridges must be managed. With a focus on base defense, Dig or Die features all of the hallmarks of a satisfying sandbox survival game.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


I'm playing MOTHERGUNSHIP, a roguelike first-person shooter by Terrible Posture Games and Grip Digital.

Sharing a lot of similarities with the developer’s previous game Tower of Guns, the game centers around shooting lots of enemies in randomly generated levels. Apart from the main story missions, there are side missions for extra parts and experience, and eventually endless and sandbox modes are unlocked. Guns can be created from parts purchased in each mission; the designing process is easy using connectors, barrels, and enhancements to attach things. More powerful weapons require more frequent energy recharging, so there is strategy involved in which barrels to place together on the same gun. Each mission has a limited number of gun parts that can be initially brought in to create the initial gun, and dying results in losing those parts. The procedurally generated levels are interesting and can drastically affect the difficulty of each mission. Occasionally, there are special rooms to purchase new parts or that have different rules. The AI is dumb but overwhelming in numbers, making for a difficult game overall. Each room does not need to be cleared to advance, however. The game’s fast pace (with quick movement and multiple jumps) and relatively short missions makes replaying after death more palatable. MOTHERGUNSHIP is a very challenging first-person shooter high in replay value thanks to procedurally generated levels and extremely flexible weapon design.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War Gameplay Review

I'm playing Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War, a turn-based 4X strategy game by Proxy Studios and Slitherine.

Featuring both single player games and online matches on randomized maps, the goal is to either defeat all other factions or complete the main quest line. The four factions (Space Marines, Imperial Guard, Necrons, and Orks) have subtle differences between them (units, resource usage, expansion rules). Cities expand into surrounding tiles to increase building slots and provide resource production bonuses for food, ore, energy, research, and influence. Maps typically include interesting choke points, artefacts and outposts to capture for bonuses, and very dangerous creeps that will decimate starting armies that don’t stick together. Units, especially heroes, can be equipped with some interesting experience-based abilities, but all factions include “basic” and “more powerful” versions of infantry, vehicle, and hero units. Only one unit is allowed per tile, so the more powerful variants are desirable once unlocked through research. Research options are varied and tough to choose between, while diplomatic options are non-existent (everyone hates everyone). The AI plays the game well enough, attacking when (and where) you are vulnerable, pulling back when needed, and expanding into appropriate regions. Coupled with the hostile nature of the game world, the game can be a challenge. Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War takes the formula of Pandora: First Contact and applies it to a different setting, adjusting just enough game mechanics to make it stand out on its own.