Monday, October 29, 2018

Veil of Crows Gameplay Review

I'm playing Veil of Crows, a role-playing real-time strategy game by Arrow Face Games.

The game features a campaign on several maps with varied character customization and background options (town leader, merchant, mercenary, et cetera); the game world carries over after you die and start a new character. There is also a sandbox mode for more direct tweaking. Towns produce gold through taxation, consume food, and collect resources from nearby mines, farms, and quarries. These resources can be used to construct new buildings and raise troops. Quests can be undertaken from neutral villages, while other factions in the game can be traded with or fought. Combat involves giving orders to troops using cumbersome, non-intuitive controls that use keyboard buttons instead of interface icons. The game world is an effective setting, with other factions going about their business before you intervene. The beginning of each scenario can be slow as you wait for resources to accumulate and better units to unlock, but large battles between different factions await. Overall, Veil of Crows is very reminiscent of Mount & Blade, except with RTS-style battles in place of third-person combat, and is a mostly successful pivot of that construct.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Colonists Gameplay Review

I'm playing The Colonists, a management simulation by Codebyfire and Mode 7 Games.

The game features two introductory missions, four without combat, and four with combat. You cannot skip missions and there are no randomized maps. Each scenario is designed to take a while to complete, as key resources are usually located on opposite sides of the map; this results in lots of monotonous waiting for resource transport, even at the maximum game speed. The crux of the game is the collection and distribution of resources, starting with the basics (food, logs, iron ore, clay) and working up the production chain to more sophisticated goods (bricks, books, bread, glass, arrows). Residences are used to produce energy consumed by every building, and structures can upgrade to produce higher-level goods. The buildable area can be expanded by placing watchtowers, and the combat-focused scenarios include hostile AI opponents. There is a lot of data contained in the game concerning resource input and output rates, and keeping resource delivery travel times low and making sure you are producing the correct quantity of goods is important for success. Most resources can be produced indefinitely once you find an underground mine (with a couple exceptions, like salt), but this still requires careful expansion and resource usage until you discover those key locations. There is a significant amount of waiting for resources to accumulate (especially if your network is inefficient, which it usually is due to the scripted resource locations); this results in dull, repetitive gameplay for about half of each scenario. While The Colonists has a satisfying core of resource production and distribution, the dull, drawn-out scenarios coupled with a lack of random maps restrict the enjoyment.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Oligopoly Gameplay Review

I'm playing Oligopoly, an economic strategy game by Viny Game Studio.

The game features three short campaigns (11 scenarios total) at various difficulties, plus five sandbox maps; there are no random maps to extend the content. The goal is to make money by collecting resources, transporting those resources to factories to produce goods, then selling those goods. There are some multi-step production chains in the game (iron + oil > plastic + steel + engine > mower) that add complexity and require planning. However, it is extremely difficult to turn a profit early on in each campaign scenario (the sandbox maps have infinite money), as goods do not earn enough money to offset the expensive monthly maintenance costs for the factories and mines required to make those goods. Oligopoly is a potentially interesting economic strategy game with intricate production chains ruined by poor early game balance in the campaign mode.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Forza Horizon 4 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Forza Horizon 4, an open world racing simulation by Playground Games and Microsoft Studios.

The most noticeable new feature is week-long seasons as you venture around the United Kingdom. Multiplayer options are integrated into the game, offering team or competitive races with online players, clubs, and special events that occur every hour. Your in-game character gains money and experience with every race (even without winning), unlocking randomized prizes (like new clothing or cars) and additional events. The map is chock full of race options once you complete the introductory sequence: road racing, dirt racing, off-road cross-country events, street races, drag racing, and drifting. Races can be customized to adjust the race length and allow specific car types (such as hatchbacks, cars from the 70s, or a specific manufacturer). In addition to the races, speed traps, huge jumps, barns hiding classic cars, and signs to smash for bonuses also dot the landscape. The cars are plentiful and can be customized with skins, upgrades, tuning, horns, and license plates. Undesirable vehicles can be auctioned off to other players. The car handling is very forgivable and focused on tight racing with the capable AI; this is quite fine for an arcade racing title such as this, but those looking for a realistic simulation should look elsewhere. The graphics are top-notch and perform very well, though the engine sounds could be improved. Forza Horizon 4 is a fantastic open-world racing title thanks to its content-rich setting, multitude of customizable race types, large roster of cars, and easy-to-handle driving physics.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Monday, October 01, 2018

ValeGuard Gameplay Review

I'm playing ValeGuard, a defensive strategy game by Lost Tower Games.

The game features a campaign that consists of a series of semi-random scenarios where you must construct defenses and and army to fend off enemies that will appear after a set period of time; once you lose, you have to start over from the beginning so there is only one saved game slot. Workers are assigned to collect resources, construct buildings, make weapons, or constitute your army. Town size can be increased by building houses with wells nearby, and food must be produced every four turns to support your population. Random events, such as merchants that will trade resources for gold and monsters that attack before the end of the scenario, mix things up mid-game. Combat is performed in real-time, where units are given move and attack orders and use special abilities. Units will attack nearby enemies to reduce micromanagement. The AI is basic but only needs to be in a defensive game. Ultimately, ValeGuard is a game of resource management, assigning the correct number of workers to collect and produce the right goods in order to have enough troops and defenses to fend off the final attack. While the mechanics are somewhat repetitive, there is flexibility regarding which weapons and resources to focus on. Overall, ValeGuard is an enjoyable defensive strategy game with a management slant.