Posts Tagged ‘Early Access’

Early Access Impressions: Hurtworld

Hurtworld [official site] is the latest multiplayer craft-me-do to go flying off Steam’s shelves, in the vein of Rust and its many followers. But, I suspect this one – despite being absolutely packed with features – is too early. It’s brilliant that you can build and race cars, but it’s dreadful that the crafting interface doesn’t have even the most basic elements in place.

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Premature Evaluation: Guardians of Orion

Though you wouldn’t necessarily expect realism from a game in which jetpacking clone soldiers do battle with a tag-team of robots and dinosaurs, Guardian’s big-name lizards are mostly creatures that co-existed at the end of the Cretacious period, rather than a best-of selected from across the dinosaurs’ 162-million-year stay on Earth. That said, the developers do find their imagination outstripping paleontological fact in the occasional creation of all new dinosaurs: one that resembles a rhino and another that can lasso the player with its tongue. But in some ways, the dinosaur mash-up is a longstanding paleontological tradition/hazard. Fake dinosaurs continue to plague the study, and though those fabricated wholesale are easy enough to identify with modern methods of analysis, it’s still sometimes hard to spot those that have been restructured or amended to create “new” species to further line the pockets of unscrupulous fossil dealers.

Each week Marsh Davies leaps from his dropship into the untamed primordial land of Early Access and unfeelingly obliterates the nascent species he finds. This week he’s turning dinosaurs to chum in Guardians of Orion, a co-op wave-survival shooter. It’s also a top-down game – which you wouldn’t necessarily guess from some of the footage used to advertise the game on its Steam Store page.

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Premature Evaluation: Sketch Tales

As any game with user-generated content, or even a mod scene, can attest: give someone the chance, and they’ll put a dick on it. Indeed, this may be some sort of universal truth. Dick-based vandalism has long been a favoured measure of casting shade on works of art, for example. Most recently one of Banksy’s murals sprouted a fresh peen, opening up (an entirely boring) debate as to whether a graffiti artist’s work could really be meaningfully vandalised.

Each week Marsh Davies turfs through the crude doodles of Early Access and comes back with any masterpieces-in-the-making he can find and/or amends his discoveries with an enthusiastically rendered dick or two. This week there is ample opportunity to append such appendages in Sketch Tales, a firstperson hack-n-slash in which you’re encouraged to re-draw and animate everything on the island you inhabit. I’m guessing the name “Tales from Penis Island” didn’t make it past Steam’s terms of service.

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Premature Evaluation: The Political Machine 2016

As ugly as the democratic process can sometimes be, it still has one or two advantages over hereditary monarchy. After all, even the most craven and corrupt politician requires some sort of conniving wherewithal to get into power, though this far from guarantees that they will use it to any decent end. This said - and as The Political Machine suggests - the importance of money and mass-media in the States has eroded the need for any other credential, and with shitbubbles like Trump in the running, you have to wonder if the mixture of inherited wealth and empty celebrity he embodies really does much to set himself apart from the sort of high-born cretins who too frequently took the throne in centuries past.

Each week Marsh Davies unleashes a patriotic aquiline shriek and swoops upon the home of the brave that is Early Access, bringing freedom by way of cash-purchased endorsements and glib media-ready soundbites to all he meets. This week, these skills will hopefully propel him all the way to the White House in The Political Machine 2016 [Steam page], a timely update of the presidential campaign strategy game in which candidates scoot between states, bellowing platitudes to the credulous and smarming their way through interviews while doing everything to sabotage their opponents.

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Premature Evaluation: Cryptark

Cryptark’s title is a bit of etymological fun, as both syllables can mean the same thing. Presumably, the sense they are going for is an ark of the Noachian kind - a ship of biblical proportions, but one which, instead of containing animals two-by-two, has become a burial chamber for its unhappy inhabitants. But the meaning of “crypt” did not always assume it contained dead things - that’s as recent as the mid-18th century. Previously it meant a vault or cavern beneath the ground, bouncing back through Latin to the Greek, kryptos, meaning, simply, “hidden”.

Each week Marsh Davies attempts to retrieve some sort of thematically appropriate salvage metaphor from the Early Access game he’s been playing – which is perhaps too easy when the theme of that game IS salvage. But Cryptark is no stricken husk: it’s already proving to be a truly excellent roguelike shmup. In it, you’re dispatched to disable the security systems of derelict alien space-hulks so that they can be stripped for scrap, one after the other, until you locate the eponymous prize itself, a gigantic vessel chock-full of precious alien tech.

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Five Nights Of Fear: Boogeyman

The Boogeyman (Bogeyman in my lingo) is your typical nightmare creature. An anti Santa Clause, in that it is a threat rather than a promise. Of course, Daddy Christmas can be used as a threat as well: “If you don’t behave, no presents!” That’s a damn sight less intimidating than “tidy your room or a hideous supernatural entity will creep out of your closet and eat you from the toes right up to the scalp” though.

Boogeyman [Steam Page], currently in Early Access, is a game about that entity. It’s a bit like Five Nights at Freddy’s crossed with Among the Sleep.

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Premature Evaluation: Noct

As with so many horror stories, Noct takes place at night. Hence “Noct”. But this association between the hours of darkness and the supernatural or simply monstrous has always seemed slightly weird to me. I mean, I *get it*: humans aren’t terribly good at night. We’re most vulnerable then. It makes sense that we would have cultural associations between nighttime and terrors beyond our control or understanding. But it does seem peculiar that we, the apex predator species on this planet, are so ill-adapted to an environment which is afflicted by darkness 50% of the time. Shouldn’t some branch of homo-whatevers have popped up with a tapetum lucidum, the reflective layer that cats have which bounces light passing the retina back onto the eye’s photo-receptors? Or, better still, simply not have the photoreceptors positioned so they point away from the lens of the eye - an elementary vertebrate mistake! I mean, come on. Uninstall backbone, noob.

Each week Marsh Davies reluctantly edges through the grey, dead land of Early Access and comes back with any stories he can find or otherwise gets ripped apart by centipedes. This week he’s been doing quite a lot of the latter in the post-apocalyptic Noct, a creepy top-down shooter, in which you play a succession of survivors attempting to follow a plan relayed to you by a distant radio operator.

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Impressions: Spiritual Supreme Commander Sequel Ashes Of The Singularity

There are this many things on my screen: lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots.

And most of them are exploding.

Ashes of the Singularity [official site] isn’t made by the same people as Supreme Commander (or, for that matter, its forebear Total Annihilation), but there’s no denying what it’s trying to be.

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Premature Evaluation: Epsilon

I wonder: what percentage of hostage taking situations are successfully resolved for the hostage-takers? It’s a hard thing to Google, as the general assumption is, not unreasonably, that “successful” in this context means the hostages are released alive. The hostage-takers, however, need not survive at all. Indeed, while videogames tend to present this situation as one of near mechanical symmetry or at least balance, the forces of the state are, in reality, way OP. Sure, they have the difficulty of not wanting the hostages to expire amid the crossfire, but this is surely countered by the need of the state to confidently extinguish such threats without compromise, lest they be encouraged. The win-condition for the hostage-takers, meanwhile, is assuredly not when they have repulsed or killed an assault force; that is merely a reversion to the starting conditions, but with fewer resources and angrier opponents.

Each week Marsh Davies kicks down the door of Early Access and checks the corners for stories and/or blinds himself with his own flash grenade. But not this week, as flash grenades are not yet a working feature of the pre-alpha Epsilon, a tactical shooter in which you struggle to guide a team of exceptionally inert anti-terrorists using a mixture of pre-planned waypoints and firstperson action.

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Doorways: Holy Mountains Of Flesh Adds New Horrors

I first discovered horror game Doorways [official site] at E3 a couple of years back when Argentinian developer Saibot Studios qualified for the inaugural Indies Crash E3 initiative. At the time, all Saibot had to show was a demo which looked interesting, albeit heavily inspired by Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Later that year, Doorways’ first couple of chapters landed on Steam; I was fond of them, but they were a little over-reliant on jump scares. So it was nice to see the developers take stock before releasing the far more accomplished Doorways: The Underworld last year, and the Holy Mountains Of Flesh series earlier this year – the second act of which is out now.

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