Posts Tagged ‘Early Access’

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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Early Access Impressions: Stranded Deep

By John Walker on January 26th, 2015.

At first glance, Stranded Deep looks like a halfway point between The Forest and Salt. Well, at first glance it looks extraordinarily like The Forest, as it opens with the extremely familiar idea of a plane crash. Stranded on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, you’re equipped with only a knife, water bottle, and whatever you can scavenge. It’s another survival game! But still, the midpoint between The Forest and Salt sounds like a brilliant place to be. Sounds like. Isn’t.

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Monstrum Gameplay Trailer Features Monsters; No Rum

By Shaun Green on January 25th, 2015.

Cargo ships get a raw deal in the world of video games. Think about it: Cryostasis, horrible frozen ship haunted by aggressive spectres. Cold Fear: something something ghost ship zombies. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: stabbed in the eye by a psychopath, everything explodes. Metal Gear Solid 2: first you’re Snake, then you’re Raiden. I could go on.

Monstrum doesn’t look like it’s going to reverse the trend of negative representations of cargo ships in video games, but at least it’s not doing so in style. That much is evident from this newly-released trailer showing off some Early Access gameplay footage.

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Gal Civ III Beta Update: Watch Your Fleets Burn

By Shaun Green on January 24th, 2015.

Have you been playing the Galactic Civilizations III beta? If so, you may be excited to learn that it’s been updated to include some gratuitous-looking space battles. Try not to sear your retinas with laser beams as you watch this short trailer:

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Infinifactory: Early Access Impressions

By John Walker on January 22nd, 2015.

Oh my goodness, Infinifactory is difficult.

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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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Space Engineers Devs Announce Medieval Engineers

By Alice O'Connor on January 13th, 2015.

I name this invention SMASH-O!

While Space Engineers is still in Early Access, developers Keen Software House are looking for more engineering opportunities. Today they announced Medieval Engineers. Given that I used to cheekily describe Space Engineers as “a Minecraftbut in space,” I don’t know where this leaves me. Medieval engineers in their leather aprons will dig and landscape, of course, but it’ll also have mechanical gadgets, and physics-based building and destruction with structural integrity. You can design siege engines to smash your mate’s castle, for starters. Come watch that in the trailer.

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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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Premature Evaluation: Subnautica

By Marsh Davies on January 5th, 2015.

Snorkel is not only fun to say, but it’s a relatively new word, too, appearing in its Anglicised form as recently as 1949. It comes from “schnorchel”, the German navy slang for a U-boat’s airshaft, though “schnorchel” actually means nose or snout. It’s thought that a lot of our similar-sounding words related to this protuberance, like snort or snore, all share the same onomatopoeic origin, intended to capture the sound of a sharp inhalation. Snork!

Each week Marsh Davies dips a toe into the unknown waters of Early Access and returns with any stories he can find and/or decompression sickness. This week he slaps on a snorkel and dives into alien aquatic survival game Subnautica. Snorkel is a great word. Snork snork!

2014 was the year of the indie survival game. 2015 looks very much like it might be the year of the indie survival game as well. 2016 is the year that the secret cabal of indie survival game developers finally steps from the shadows to unleash its terrible global coup. Within minutes of the first shot, indie game genres fall, devoured by the unstoppable tide of survival mechanics. Early Access devs planning coherent end-games are forced to fight each other to the death in a bleak, under-resourced wilderness with guns improvised from baked-bean tins. In sick mimicry of the cabal’s evil creed, games can now only conclude with the player’s own expiration from starvation or hypothermia. “To play is to die! To play is to die!” the regime’s fanatical adherents shriek from loudhailers as the speedrunners, twin-stick shootists and visual-novelists are forced into the re-education pens. No one misses the Dota players. It’s only the devastating invasion of the Sokobeasts, a hyperintelligent alien race fixated on abstruse block-pushing puzzles, that forces the regime to see its terrible error. Only then does it regret marooning Jon Blow and Stephen Lavelle on a spit of sand in the Pacific with only a snooker cue and a single sausage-roll between them. How the regime had laughed at that. Well, they’re not laughing now. Because they’re dead.

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Premature Evaluation: Frontiers

By Marsh Davies on December 22nd, 2014.

Pining for the big outdoors?

Each week Marsh Davies voyages into the uncharted territories of Early Access and comes back with any stories he finds and/or hypothermia. This week he packs his pickaxe and pith helmet, and sets out for Frontiers, an ambitious firstperson survival-RPG.

How much can I bench? I can bench an actual bench. I’m benching it right now, and maybe forever, not only because I can, but because I must: because I cannot put down this bench. I only wanted to see if I could balance it on the head of an NPC who was rudely ignoring me. I couldn’t. Nor could I put it anywhere ever again. This is how I live now – with a bench hovering just in front of me, occasionally spasming as I pass through doorways that are substantially smaller than it, clipping into the faces of people as I try to buy sausages from them. I really regret picking up this bench.

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A Couple Of Hours With… Dungeon Defenders II

By Alec Meer on December 18th, 2014.

Dungeon Defenders II is a tower defence/action-RPG hybrid, with a very heavy focus on co-op multiplayer, in which your fantasy archetype lays traps and wades into the fray themselves in the hope of defeating waves of marching monsters. Its ‘pre-alpha’ has been out on Steam Early Access for a short while now, and is proving rather popular. I gave it a very quick look to try and find out why.
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Satellite Reign: Early Access Impressions

By Alec Meer on December 17th, 2014.

Spritual Syndicate sequel/remake Satellite Reign arrived on Steam Early Access last week. Can it possibly live up to its hallowed Bullfrog cyberpunk squad shooter legacy? I jacked in to find out.

The bad news: we’re running out of things that we want spiritual sequels to! Everything we ever wanted is coming true! CRISIS IN VIDEOGAMELAND.

The good news: Syndicate remake (of a sort) Satellite Reign is hot.
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Premature Evaluation: The Deer God

By Marsh Davies on December 15th, 2014.

A staggering vision.

Each week Marsh Davies launches himself into the bestial bloodbath that is Early Access and comes out with whatever stories and/or handfuls of porcupine innards he can find. This week he gets his game on in the weird woodland-themed survival-platformer hybrid that is The Deer God.

And today in Least Fulfillable Game Development Promises: The Deer God “will challenge your religion and your platforming skills”. Presumably they didn’t hit the stretch goal for a full Damascene Conversion, but, still, that’s a loftier aim than making the player John Romero’s bitch. The Kickstarter blurb also mentions that the game is “dedicated to a small cardinal, whom I ran over recently,” which, if taken in the spirit of Thomas More, might well involve a robust challenge to religion – but I think the author probably just means the bird.

In the event, The Deer God has only challenged my patience so far, but it does start out with a little doctrinal shake up: a hunter reaches the Pearly Gates – via a gruesome mauling by wolves – and discovers that God is, in fact, a ruminant. And She isn’t best pleased about his penchant for venison burgers. Cue reincarnation as a baby deer, forced into a fittingly punitive collision of platformer, endless-runner and survival roguelike.

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