Posts Tagged ‘alpha review’

Premature Evaluation: Armello

By Marsh Davies on January 26th, 2015.

“This is what the future of George Monbiot’s re-wilding policy looks like,” he typed, realising he would not be able to come up with a less obscure joke by his copy deadline.

Each week Marsh Davies sidles into the shadowy world of intrigue that is Early Access and comes back with any stories he can find and/or a knife in the back. This week, he plugs in his bunny tail and assassinates anthropomorphised animals with an umbrella in Armello, a digital boardgame of machiavellian power plays.

It would take an Australian developer, apparently not content with harbouring the most deadly creatures on the planet, to advocate giving swords to wolves. Real nice, Australia. Real nice. Why not put stilettos into the tiny claws of rats, while you’re at it? How about making bears into deadly wizards? Go on, give rabbits concealed blades disguised as parasols, why don’t you?

Then make them fight. Oh, you did? Oh.

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Premature Evaluation: Vagante

By Marsh Davies on January 19th, 2015.

Vagante is Italian, if you’re wondering. Or rather, if you’re wandering. It means “wandering”, is what I’m saying. So, that’d be a hard “g” with an audible trailing “e”.

Each week Marsh Davies shuffles apprehensively into the dank catacombs of Early Access and returns with any stories he can find and/or a faceful of cycloptic bat guano. This week he quaffs an unidentified cyan potion and throws himself onto a bed of spikes, repeatedly, in procedural permadeath platformer Vagante, a particularly Roguish Spelunkalike.

Did you play Spelunky and think, “What this really needs is to be a lot darker, with several additional layers of complication and a much less parseable tileset”? Somebody out there did, and judging by the wholly positive Steam reviews, at least 68 other folk did as well.

I can’t claim to be one of these strange, troglodytic creatures, but then I also must confess that it took me many concerted attempts before I finally fell beneath Spelunky’s subterranean charm. Maybe it’ll happen with Vagante. It hasn’t quite yet – although some several dozen misadventures later, I am warming to it. It manages that rare trick, as Spelunky did, of making failure the most entertaining part. It’s certainly the most plentiful. My sorties into the underworld have ended in the digestive cavities of man-eating plants, as demon-dog dinners, beneath boulders, in spike-pits and in pieces, thanks to the Bandit King’s axe. But throughout, my most dangerous enemy has been myself – my incaution, my stupidity, my insatiable desire to immediately glug every pungent, bubbling concoction I find in the bottom of a barrel. If I discover a helmet made out of jelly, I’m wearing it. And then, when I realise it’s cursed, I’m going to drink my unidentified inventory dry, set myself on fire, and teleport into a pool of piranhas.

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Premature Evaluation: Distance

By Marsh Davies on January 12th, 2015.

I’d like to see a series of Top Gear in which “the lads” are injected into an imploding cyber-horror unreality. Come on, Clarkson, say something off-colour about this giant buzz-saw you’re about to plough into.

Each week Marsh Davies revs his engines and tears off into the nightmarish neon digiscape of Early Access and returns with any stories he can find and/or skid marks. This week he speeds into the distance in, er, Distance – a hallucinatory “Survival Racing” game.

“Survival Racing” say the developers. It’s an ominous appellation that suggests players might have to rumble along the verges on wooden wheels, shunting rubber trees until they’ve shaken enough ingredients loose to build some tyres. Fear not – Distance isn’t that sort of survival game. It is, in fact, a time-attack obstacle course apparently set inside the cheese-dream of a Tron lightcycle. You play as some sort of car AI in some sort of collapsing simulation – the “story” of the story mode is just as deep as it needs to be – and you must speed through these pulsating landscapes of monolithic black shards and streaking neon, all while avoiding inexplicable laser hazards and performing rad stunts. Naturally, there is a throbbing electro soundtrack, too.

It’s already terrifically entertaining. Merely weaving through the stacks and overpasses of this world to the pulse of the music offers a baseline level of aesthetic scintillation, but the game builds and builds upon its core driving model until you are flipping between perpendicular roadways, flying, boosting, jumping with split-second precision as the rhythm pounds and the environment itself contorts and explodes. Cool.

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Life is Feudal Alpha: Is It Worth Playing Yet?

By Angus Morrison on October 10th, 2014.

They don’t teach Terraforming like they used to.

Life is Feudal wants to be a “realistic-fictional Medieval hardcore sandbox MMORPG”, give or take an adjective.

A warning before we fish for the meaning in that sea of descriptors: Life is Feudal is Early Access, a point the devs take pains to communicate, but this isn’t ARMA III Early Access. It’s not even DayZ Early Access, which was held together by duct tape and rags on release. Life is Feudal is sketch-on-the-back-of-a-napkin Early Access, and you’ll have to squint to see what the picture is.

Swear fealty at this stage and you’re buying a vertiginous £25 worth of idea. But there it is, staking a claim on the Steam bestseller list. I struck out to found my fiefdom and see how its promises are being put into play.

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The Lighthouse Customer – Lichdom: Battlemage

By Christopher Livingston on June 23rd, 2014.

I came here to cast spells and chew gum and I have plenty of both.

Each Monday, Chris Livingston visits an early access game and reports back with stories about whatever he finds inside. This week, first-person spellcasting and spellcrafting with Lichdom: Battlemage.

As a battlemage, I am imbued with arcane might: deadly firestorms, freezing ice blasts, and crackling electrical bolts. I hold my magic-infused hands up in front of me in an awkward, unnatural fashion at all times, as if I’m a giant praying mantis or a Microsoft marketing executive presenting at E3. And, I wrestle with the same ancient dilemma all great sorcerers have faced, from Merlin to Dumbledore: do I want to use a Charging Smart Trap AOE Pattern with +17% chance of critical damage or stick with the Charging Targeted Pattern of Persistence with +14% status effect duration? As Gandalf said: “YOU SHALL NOT PASS NOW THAT I’VE GOT +28% BURN DAMAGE ON KILL FOR 9 SECONDS!”

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The Lighthouse Customer: GearCity

By Christopher Livingston on June 16th, 2014.

I call it the Volkswagen Coleoptera. Wait, that's not right.

Each Monday, Chris Livingston visits an early access game and reports back with stories about whatever he finds inside. This week, driving a car company into the ground with GearCity.

“Have you ever dreamed of running your own car company?” asks the website of GearCity, a simulation game that lets you run your own car company. My answer: no, I’ve never dreamed of running my own car company, at least until GearCity’s website asked if I’ve ever dreamed of running my own car company. At which point I did. So, I decided to play GearCity to fulfil my minute-old dream. Of running my own car company.

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