Posts Tagged ‘Premature Evaluation’

Premature Evaluation: Fortnite

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It’d be easy for me to describe Fortnite [official site] as “DIY Left 4 Dead”. It’s the recent free-to-play zombie shooter from Epic Games, tasking you and three pals with building defences and scavenging supplies between waves of cartoonish undead, all spawned into existence by a paranormal purple storm. But to compare it so readily to Valve’s co-op shooter would evoke a brilliance it simply lacks. Fortnite is one of the most obnoxiously loud and over-designed games I’ve played in a long while.
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Premature Evaluation – Next Day: Survival

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Every week we abandon Brendan to the post-apocalyptic wastes of early access. This time, the cold, hard life of Next Day: Survival [official site]

I found my new friend sitting in a car outside the Safe Zone compound. The car was broken down and stationary, but he sat behind the wheel anyway. He was making his own speedy car noises and engine sounds.

“Brrrrrrr-brm-brrrrrrrrr. Brrr-brr-brrrrrrrvvvv!”

I stepped in front of the immobile vehicle, wearing nothing but the boxer shorts and t-shirt that accompanied me into this world. I peered through the windshield to get a closer look at the man inside, pretending to drive.

“Oh shit!” he shouted “A pedestrian!”
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Premature Evaluation: Sælig

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Every week we send Brendan into the dark age of early access. This time, the old English village life of Sælig [Steam page]

Sælig, we are told at the beginning of this game, is an old English word that means “blessed, fortunate, prosperous, happy”. All fine goals in the harsh world of the dark ages, where the best you can hope for is a good fire and a full belly. But by the end of my brief time with this Anglo-Saxon household management sim, I would be none of these things. I would be “annoyed, discontent, bored, cheerless”. To keep up the old English, I would be wansælig.
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Premature Evaluation: Worlds Adrift

Every week we launch Brendan into the early access stratosphere to see if he can find gems among the clouds. This time, the floating islands and airship building of sandbox MMO Worlds Adrift [official site]

I fell off my sky boat. I’m now falling through the clouds wondering if this world has a bottom – a large lava pit or possibly a vast, endless ocean – and also: how long will it take to arrive there? I say “fell”. In fact, I was forcefully ejected from my ship – the Flabbergaster – by some kind of violent spasm of the game’s inner workings. This isn’t the first time I’ve died to a janky accident of the overzealous physics engine, nor is it the most embarrassing. That honour is reserved for the time I crafted a plank of wood and it landed awkwardly on my own head. It might be difficult to describe the merits of this crafting-heavy multiplayer world while the wind rushes so mercilessly around me but I’ll try, because it has many, despite the jank.
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Premature Evaluation: Colony Survival

Every week we cast Brendan into the early access wilderness to see what friends he can make. This time, he recruits some peasant help to run a farm in Colony Survival [Steam page]

To look at the videos of Colony Survival you might think it a top-down city builder or a blocky management sim. In reality, it’s a Minecraftbut. That once safe and sound (now vastly oversubscribed) subgenre that sees you building a personal castle out of giant blocks from a first-person perspective and fending off nightly monsters, like a really lonely King. But here, you’re not so alone. Colonists in the form of AI-controlled helpers can be recruited to farm crops, mine ore, grind flour and cook bread. This is Minecraft-but-with-serfs.
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Premature Evaluation: Kenshi

Every week we cast Brendan into the early access badlands in nothing but rags. This time, the hot mess of genre that is survival-strategy-city-builder-RPG Kenshi [official site]

You could call Kenshi an RPG, you could call it a survival game. Or you could call it a chaotic jumble of good ideas stitched together via a user interface that would make a Wurm player eat their keyboard in a blind rage. I mention Wurm Online only because this feels like the closest comparison. Except this isn’t online. It’s set in a single-player fantasy Japanese world of skeletal robots and bony animals of burden and it’s got a reputation for toughness. My favourite line in the trailer is: “nobody will help you when the fog-men are eating your legs”. A line both frank and representative. How would I fare in this hostile landscape? Let me tell you the saga of the Gurpson clan.
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Premature Evaluation: Production Line

Every week we send Brendan to inspect the factory floor of early access and scribble angry notes about the development carousel. This time, the conveyor belts of Production Line [official site].

Hello, discerning motorist. Set your eyes on the epitome of motorway luxury: the Safe Family Car Xtreme. It is our debut vehicle and comes complete with an engine and wing mirrors. You might think our car company is behind the competition because there is no air conditioning, no cruise control, and no means of listening to music while driving. But don’t worry, we have 16 of our best scientists working round the clock to come up with a CD player right now. There is no reason to be alarmed. No, I mean that literally. The Family Car Xtreme has no car alarm.
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Premature Evaluation: Rokh

Every week we send Brendan down to the rocky surface of the early access wastes. This time, the Martian survivalism of Rokh [official site].

I only lasted two hours on Mars. I didn’t die of radiation sickness, nor did I succumb to thirst or hunger. I didn’t get struck down by a wayward meteorite, or run out of oxygen and suffocate in my own spacesuit. All of these things are possible in this crafting-heavy survive-em-up. But my time on the red planet was brought to an end by a much more ordinary killer: tedium. Rokh is an absolute masterclass in how NOT to do survival games.
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Premature Evaluation: Dead Cells

Every week we decapitate Brendan and throw him into the early access dungeons, and somehow he always comes back. He must have learned that trick from the promising and punishing Dead Cells [official site]

Life is good when you beat a boss. I’ve been toying with Dead Cells for the past week, relishing its roguelite slashing and crunchy pixel art. It’s a tough game, often punching you in the gut with powerful enemies and sending you slithering all the way back to the start with each death. But every time you die, you get stronger, along with a chance to re-roll the dice of fate to see what vicious weaponry you can gather this time. It styles itself after Dark Souls but, really, you should leave those assumptions at the gate. Just there, next to the pile of beheaded corpses.

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Premature Evaluation: Stable Orbit

Every week we launch Brendan through the atmosphere into the cold, dark void of early access. This time, the realistic space station (mis)management of Stable Orbit [official site]

My first space station is called the Floppy Floater. It is a barren place, so bleak in demeanour that it fails even to qualify as a potential setting for a post-disaster sci-fi shooter, even though it has two whole dead bodies on board. Yet unlike Prey, no alien threat is responsible for these deaths. Only my own hasty and thoughtless decision-making. When will I stop accidentally killing imaginary people using only the dark negligence of middle-management? Never. God-willing, I will never stop doing that. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: Veil of Crows

Every week we launch Brendan from a catapult into the early access fortress. This time, the haphazard RPG adventuring of Veil of Crows [official site]

I’ve just murdered four villagers. I was grumpy and I wanted their village, so I went in with eleven peasants and killed them and took their lumberyard. To be fair, they murdered four of us right back. Sadly, all the bodies now lying on the village grounds are practically indistinguishable – all the same greyish peasant corpse. I own a village now, but I am still grumpy. Is it because the kingdom who once guarded the lumberyard are now sending an army to take back their rightful land? No. It’s just because Veil of Crows is messy, buggy and not very fun.
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Premature Evaluation: ECHOPLEX

Every week we expose Brendan to the radioactive chemicals of the early access laboratory. This time, the time-bending puzzles of ECHOPLEX [official site].

I am stuck. There are 15 short levels currently available in ECHOPLEX, a first-person puzzler along the lines of Portal and Antichamber, and I am stuck on level 11. It is a toughie. The thing is, I’m not sure if the game is working as intended. Bugs are part of the early access merry-go-round, for sure, but if they show up in the strict logic of a puzzle game they can be boldly destructive. But there’s a bigger problem than that: I don’t know if what I’m seeing is a bug, or if it is simply part of the puzzle that hasn’t been explained. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: Blackwake

Every week we send Brendan onto the high seas of early access to see what booty he can plunder. This time, the maritime multiplayer mayhem of Blackwake [official site].

Harrrr. Shiver my own timbers. [Aside: What else do pirates say?] Ahoy friendy! If you want to be a true-to-life sea dog just like me, the firey bosom of Blackwake awaits. It’s large-scale naval warfare with crews of up to 16 people. It’s what I’d call a ‘Hall-of-the-Mountain-King-like’, because that’s the royalty-free music that early access games often use in their trailer to invoke a sense of chaos and silliness, a musical composition that has, as a result, become a coded signal for games which are roughewn and therefore “funny”. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: Bot Colony

Every week we send Brendan to investigate the seedy underworld of early access. This time, interrogating the robots of Bot Colony [official site].

Bot Colony, according to its own boast, is “the first video game featuring intelligent conversation as its key gameplay feature”. You speak into a microphone and ask questions of the robot characters, or give them commands. You might remember Chris attempting to put books on shelves using this voice recognition feature. You might also remember him failing miserably. Well, it’s been some time since then and we thought we’d give it another shot in this video special. Read on and watch my own doomed attempt to communicate with mankind’s newest mistake. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Every week we dump Brendan out the back of a plane and into the hotbed of gunfire that veterans know only as ‘early access’. This week, the competitive murderfields of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds [official site].

I’m halfway across the river when the net starts closing in. A huge electric field looms up behind me, sparkling and fizzing and nipping at my heels as I swim for my life. Having just dodged a player driving by in his jeep, I was now going to die of wounds slowly inflicted over time by the game itself, simply for not being in the right place. I kicked and swam, even as the electric field overtook me and my screen started to slowly bleed. If I didn’t reach the safe zone soon – marked by a white circle on the mini-map, I’d be dead. Oh well, I figured, there are less interesting ways to go.
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Premature Evaluation: Oxygen Not Included

Every week we warp Brendan into the gaseous caverns of early access to see if he can find precious games worth playing in the gloom. This time, the subterranean space colonisation of Oxygen Not Included [official site]

Everything is covered in piss. When I branded my new space colony ‘Yellow Water Station’ I did so because I was prompted to come up with a suitable name for a settlement on the interstellar frontier. But all I could think of was how weird it is that astronauts drink their own recycled and purified urine. ‘Yellow Water Station’ was my puerile attempt at humour. I didn’t expect the new underground village I was building to accept its new moniker with such enthusiasm. Now everything is covered in piss, poisonous red gas is building up in the sleeping quarters, and there’s a dead body at the bottom of one of the aquifers.
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Premature Evaluation: Streets of Rogue

Every week we send Brendan out to the slums of early access to see what goodies he can find in the rubbish bins. This time, the absurd chaos of Streets of Rogue [official site].

“You better pay this back,” said the bartender as I took the money from him. I left the bar in silence and went looking for some cocaine. It’s not often you get to play as an investment banker in a roguelike, and I am enjoying it. This one has the special ability to convince shopkeepers and bartenders to lend him money. I made great use of this skill in every bar or shop I came across. “You better pay this back,” each of my “investors” said to me. A couple of levels later, I was suffering withdrawal and trying to find a drug dealer for my fix when a gang of ninjas came out of nowhere and tried to assassinate me for being so deep in debt. “Phew,” I thought as I escaped their attacks and rounded a corner. Then I ran into the killer robot. He was also hunting me, and I’ll say this for him: he has much better aim. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: For The King

Every Monday we order Brendan to examine the early access entrails for signs of coming chaos. This week, the guts tell of a magical and old-fashioned RPG called For The King [official site] with strange rougelike properties…

Death comes easily to the intrepid hex explorer. If you’re lucky, you’ll just get a quick bandit axe in the forehead. But if you’re like me, only the most scurrilous death will do. In a poison bog surrounded by old swamp hags, for example. Or deep underground at the hands of deranged cultists and their bat minions. These are just some of the ways you can (will) die in For The King, a shiny and modern-looking RPG that nevertheless retains a good and ancient heart. And by that I mean it has absolutely no qualms about murdering you.
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Premature Evaluation: Northgard

Every Monday we send Brendan to scout the early access ruins for hidden treasures. This week, the careful Viking tactics of Northgard [official site]

This is Blainn, below. He’s just killed a Wyvern. He’s my best mate because I gave him and his giant pals, the Jötunn, enough food to last a lifetime. They reckon we in the Goat clan are excellent humans and now Chief Blainn is fighting alongside us in our hoofed conquest of the whole land. This is one endgame that comes in Northgard, a rock-solid RTS about allocating and reallocating your Viking workforce in just the right way. Technically this match ended over an hour ago, when my opponent reached a “wisdom victory”. But it’s a testament to Northgard’s foundations that, when given the option to leave or continue following my defeat, I happily clicked “keep playing”.
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Premature Evaluation: Smite Tactics

Every Monday Brendan prays to the gods of early access for favour, power and a winning hand. This week, the collectible card game battler Smite Tactics [official site]

Being a fan of Duelyst’s card-based lunacy, I was more than happy to dip my toes into Smite Tactics at Pip’s suggestion. It’s a spin-off CCG from the makers of the same-named MOBA, using their collected gods and mythical figureheads to get you collecting cards instead of pushing mid. Sadly, it’s as skeletal as an argonaut’s worst nightmare, in dire need of some fleshing out.
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