Posts Tagged ‘Steam Early Access’

Premature Evaluation: Medieval Shopkeeper Simulator

Medieval Shopkeeper Sim

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s moonlighting as a grouchy stall owner in Medieval Shopkeeper Simulator, a first-person fantasy retail romp.

With the chaos of E3 fast approaching, I’m looking for a more sedate racket. No more of this videogame malarky, I’m going to sell rocks and sticks to the impoverished serfs of Medieval Shopkeeper Simulator. It will be the greatest rock and stick emporium in all the land, or at least this postcode. I used to work in retail, so I’m sure I’ll have a handle on it in no time.

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Premature Evaluation: Maelstrom

Maelstrom

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s running away from sea monsters and hunting down galleons in nautical battle royale, Maelstrom.

I wasn’t a happy pirate. I wasn’t any kind of pirate, really; not with only a series of failed fights and a major lack of booty to my name. It was all a little embarrassing. So when I saw the Dwarven ship on the horizon, there was a storm brewing inside me, and I pointed my shark-drawn Orc ship at the stumpy corsairs and increased speed. Wood and metal and, of course, shark collided, followed by a barrage of cannonfire.

This would be it. I knew it. My first victory in Maelstrom.

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Premature Evaluation: It Lurks Below

lurk

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s looking into what lurks below in It Lurks Below. What is It? What does It want? Is It responsible for all my missing underwear?

I’m pretty fond of Terraria, and even more so of Starbound, so It Lurks Below piqued my interest with only a couple of screenshots. It’s unashamedly a miniature Terraria, where heroes dig deep into the ground in search of treasure, fight monsters and nurture a fantasy village. It’s also David “Diablo Dad” Brevik’s first solo project, who’s used his action RPG expertise to occasionally nudge it in a different direction. It could do with a few more nudges.

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Project Zomboid is still in Early Access and that’s amazing

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There is only one game I ever purchased on Desura and it was Project Zomboid, way back in 2011. This cool little indie isometric game strove to bring a Romero-esque slow zombie apocalypse to life by mixing survival skills, community management, close quarters combat, exploration, mental health, and a lot of good moaning sounds. It was a project I was backing but also getting in on the ground floor for, as I watched the developers list off exciting features they hoped to introduce, and work alongside the gaming community. Project Zomboid finally hit Steam Early Access in 2013… and it has been stuck there ever since.

But stuck isn’t the right word for it. Or at least I’m hoping it isn’t.

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Premature Evaluation: SpyParty

SpyParty

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s pretending to be an NPC, badly, in the asymmetric game of spies and snipers, SpyParty. How do you get blood out of a tux?

Nerves already shot, I extract myself from the conversation I’m using as cover and head towards the golden statue, my prize. This plush apartment houses more than a few pieces of art I can pinch, but this one is out of the way, somewhere I’m pretty sure nobody will be looking. I empty my brain and follow the path I’ve settled on in my head. I’m following a script with the single-mindedness of a machine. Or, more accurately, a SpyParty NPC.

I’m almost at my destination when a spanner is flung into the works in the form of a booze-swigging ambassador, sauntering over to the shiny eagle I intend to make away with. For a split second my brain fires up again. I’m not a machine; I’m a startled person who has to briefly recalculate, and that’s all it takes for the laser sight to swing over to me. Pop! My spy career is over.

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Premature Evaluation: Make Sail

Make Sail

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s setting off in a rickety boat in Make Sail. It looks a bit like Wind Waker, but you get to build your own vessel. Sadly, it doesn’t talk.

Once a year, usually around the time of Gamescom, I slink off. I stop writing, disconnect from Twitter and flee to the coast of a sun-soaked country that I can comfortably sail around while sipping the cheapest gin and rum I can find. It’s what I look forward to most, every year, and when I return I’m always a more upbeat, raring-to-go kind of guy. It’s safe to say that I love sailing.

Make Sail has tested that love.

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Premature Evaluation: Stormworks – Build and Rescue

stormworks

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s trying to run a successful ocean rescue service in Stormworks: Build and Rescue by building the greatest helicopter ever invented.

I don’t get seasick. I get sea hungover, but that’s really my own fault. The wave of nausea that slammed into me as I piloted my tiny bouncing boat towards a nearby island came as something of a surprise. Between the exaggerated physics and frequently foul weather, Stormworks’ ocean is a vomit-inducing nightmare.

It’s my job to fight it.

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Premature Evaluation – Hunt: Showdown

hunt

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s living out his dream of being one of the handsome boys from Supernatural by hunting down demonic beasties in Crytek’s multiplayer shooter, Hunt: Showdown.

Hunt: Showdown never has any silence to break. It’s always noisy. Every groan, gurgle and scream, even the rustling of leaves — they all echo across the swamp, exploding out of invisible amps. After awhile, it becomes a low, menacing drone; an ever-present threat that you just get used to. The trick – I can only assume, as I’m quite terrible at this bounty hunting malarky – is to cut through the background din and pick out the real dangers. The closest roars. The loudest footsteps. The bullet whizzing right past your head.

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Premature Evaluation: Rise of Industry

riseofindustry

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s hawking his wares to the ravenous consumers of Rise of Industry, a tycoon game about growing berries and other less important things.

You’ve got to give the people what they want. Booze, sex, tasty little berries harvested from a local plantation and driven straight to the farmers market – these people have needs, and for the last week I’ve been spending my evenings with Rise of Industry trying to fulfill them. Well, the need for berries anyway. People go nuts for them – but they don’t care for nuts – and I am the Berry King.

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Premature Evaluation: Eco

eco

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s joining a civilisation and facing down a meteor in environmentally-conscious sandbox Eco. But mostly he’s building a terrible house.

The worlds of crafting and survival games are big balls of resources waiting to be exploited. Normally. Not so in Eco, where the world is a vulnerable, reactive globe that requires respect and nurturing. And only a wee bit of exploitation. It looks like a pretty Minecraft, but while it shares most of its fundamentals, Eco is as much simulation as a crafting sandbox, complete with an ecosystem that can be irreparably destroyed by human interference.

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Premature Evaluation: My Time at Portia

portia1

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the (well-tended agricultural) wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s taking a break in My Time at Portia, a crafting sim with shades of Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley.

Tirelessly exploring early access games takes its toll, so this week I’m off somewhere relaxing: a post-apocalyptic town. Portia is more Ghibli than Fallout, thankfully. It’s a brightly-coloured, charming place, surrounded by vast green fields and gargantuan ruins from the time before the cataclysm. A perfect spot for a holiday, then.

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Premature Evaluation: Forged Battalion

forged

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s making his very own RTS faction in Petroglyph’s Forged Battalion.

The drones swoop in first, dropping gas bombs on top of unsuspecting mech pilots. The rest of the horde soon follow, announcing their arrival by launching toxic grenades that slowly corrode their victims, accompanied by the traditional wall of missiles. Anti-tank mechs tear into the defending artillery while buggies with rocket launchers strapped to them round up the stragglers. The base is torn down. These are my babies.

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Premature Evaluation: Mashinky

mashinky1

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s filling the British countryside with railroads and smoke in train tycoon sim, Mashinky.

Disaster! I’d barely begun my first foray into Mashinky’s magical world of locomotives when my very first attempt to manage a whopping two whole trains — carriages and all — ended in calamity and death. And also fire. My brand new steam engine had just left the depot near Leicester and was beginning its journey to Kirkcaldy when it rather unexpectedly collided with the only other train in the world. All that was left was a smoking, smouldering wreck. That’s what signals are for, I realised too late.

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Premature Evaluation: Mesozoica

meso

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s doing his best John Hammond impersonation by caging up dinosaurs and displaying them in exchange for tourist cash in dino theme park sim Mesozoica.

This summer, Frontier plans to launch Jurassic World Evolution, a licensed dino-park sim. I can almost understand, then, why I’m already playing Mesozoica, another dinosaur-themed management sim. Absent a big license like Jurassic Park, developers DreamInCode B.V. and Squadron Interactive might be keen to beat Frontier to the punch. This early launch is not likely to have the effect they intended.

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Premature Evaluation: They Are Billions

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Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. For the first foray of 2018, Fraser’s been trying to save humanity from hordes of peckish zombies and other undead beasties in survival RTS They Are Billions. It’s a classic New Year tradition from a simpler time.

They Are Billions, at first glance, looks like it might have been the result of a night of video game Mad Libs. It’s a survival strategy game with hints of tower defence, a steampunk aesthetic and waves of zombie enemies. It’s a grab bag of video game tropes and genres slammed together that suggest there might be clumsiness in the way the whole thing hangs together. Thankfully, once the undead hordes start pounding at the gates, that suggestion is eradicated. And so, quite often, is humanity.

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Premature Evaluation: Empires of the Undergrowth

ant

This week’s Premature Evaluation gives Fraser the highly coveted job of mucking around in the dirt while managing an ant colony in creepy crawly RTS Empires of the Undergrowth. It gets really dark down there.

“The ants were weak and confused. We should start again with another colony.”

Like so many nature documentaries before it, Empires of the Undergrowth looks like it’s going to be an informative delve into the animal kingdom — specifically the tiny world of our pals, the ants — but instead unfurls into a cruel reminder that nature is terrifying and spiders are dicks. And even here, in this RTS set in a formicarium, the real villains are humans. Awful, awful humans.

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Premature Evaluation: Tannenberg

tan

This week’s Premature Evaluation sees our early access conscript, Fraser, flung into the nightmarish Eastern Front of World War I in multiplayer FPS Tannenberg. It’s a companion game to Verdun, but the weather is worse and and there are a lot more angry men with guns.

A man sprints out of the woods just in front of my hiding spot, screaming as he jumps over fallen trees. Before I can even figure out if he’s friend or foe, there’s a flash and a scream as he’s sent hurtling through the air, the latest victim of the enemy’s mortar. He lands in the mud right next to me, where he moans and gurgles as the life slowly seeps out of him. It’s a noise I’ve become very familiar with in Tannenberg.

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SpyParty is coming to Steam early access after 8 years of development

spy

The first time SpyParty was mentioned here was in 2010, and we’ve not written about it since 2015, so you could be forgiven for forgetting that it existed. But it does indeed still exist, and after eight years of development, it’s coming to Steam early access. There’s a new trailer below that breaks down the simple but seductive premise.

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Premature Evaluation: Bermuda – Lost Survival

bermuda

For this week’s Premature Evaluation, we’ve tossed Fraser into Bermuda – Lost Survival’s unfriendly ocean, where he’ll have to survive on whatever he can steal from the water.

I have, over the last couple of years, misplaced a yacht, crashed a yacht and fallen out of a yacht. You might say that Poseidon and I have a troubled relationship. I just want to go sailing, but he has other plans. I’ve got some experience with nautical misadventures, then, which is why I expect that Bermuda – Lost Survival will be a walk in the park, albeit a very soggy one.

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Divinity: Original Sin 2 Now On Steam Early Access

Divinity: Original Sin 2 [official site] launched into early access today, less than a year after wrapping up its Kickstarter. The fantasy RPG’s initial release is quite small, and waiting for the full version before even thinking about touching it is certainly a reasonable idea but, y’know, maybe Adam’s raving has got you pumped. Original Sin 2 “improves almost every area” of the original, he said – and it was no slouch.

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