Fans of real-time strategy games have a great console game to experience, even if it is a more streamlined approach to the genre. While I will admit that this may be a turn-off for some hardcore fans, I did enjoy my time with the game. With that said, I miss out of earning three stars on some missions due to the game slowing down when moving around some of the larger maps.
Having tried the game with both a controller and keyboard, I do recommend using a gamepad. It makes the game that much more enjoyable. That being said, this is an arcade-style racing game. It's got some definite good points, and it's insanely fast for those that want speed, but I'm more concerned about replayability. I know there's an online component, but I did not have much luck in finding matches. I'm hoping that the online community picks up, as the game isn't bad by any means. I am just concerned that it's easy to run out of things to do once you beaten the single-player modes and fully upgraded your vehicle.
I feel like Starship Corporation has some lofty goals and I applaud the developers behind it. I think a better approach would have been an early smaller, more laser-sighted focus on fewer items to strengthen those out before expanding fully. The game's tutorial is beneficial, but there's still a somewhat steep learning curve behind it, and there's just so much at any given point. If players can get past that and overlook some clunky UI aspects, they'll enjoy Starship Corporation immensely for its depth.
Frostpunk is without a doubt an excellent new entry into the city-building genre. It contains enough familiar elements tinged with new, fantastical ones comprised of the steampunk aesthetic and feel. Admittedly though, the game's seemingly shorter length may make it feel like it's not complete, but that's not true in any way. It's great price point, challenging gameplay mechanics, and overall offerings with replayability make this a solid game to pick up. It takes some time to master as well, making it worth the challenge of surviving in the long winter.
Truthfully I do like some of the core mechanics of the game. I've done small-scale farming in real life and understood the requirements that kind of profession and lifestyle places on you. A lot of things in this game remind me of those days, but there's a lot that breaks the simulation and realism. The odd vehicle controls, random issues when driving that will instantly slow you down, and the need to continually open that damn tablet really deter me from the game. Otherwise, it does perfectly capture the tedium of the farming life reasonably well even if your character seemingly never has to sleep.
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is absolutely a solid and engrossing game. It may be slower for some, but even then it's something to play for a few hours at the least. I found myself traveling to faraway points just to see what little story I could find and unravel in the middle of nowhere. I enjoyed finding stories I previously told become larger and larger, subtly changing with each new retelling. I enjoyed getting to know those who lived on the road and away from civilization, understanding their quirks and seeing just how my interactions with them affected my travels. Topped with impressive voice acting, a stunning soundtrack, and beautiful visuals...I highly recommend trying this game out. It's a different experience, but getting to explore early Americana and listening to its tales should be hard to pass up.
I feel Hyper Universe may fill an unrealized niche in the MOBA genre. The gameplay feels fresh, the controller support is an excellent perk, and for those tired of other MOBA games might find themselves falling quickly into Hyper's simple, free-to-play model. While yes, it's possible to go and buy equipment and Hypers, I'm never sure how much that may or may not imbalance overall gameplay. That being said, given some time and server tweaking to fix those crazy lag spikes and I think this game will continue to grow.
Post Human W.A.R., as I noted, feels like "RTS-lite" and is even reminiscent of a board game sprung to life on my PC. The points system, grid maps, and vibrant nature of the games has me imagining pulling everything out of a box and setting it up on my kitchen table. The general simplicity has a high-level draw, and it offers an appeal of fun for anyone looking to get into something that's not overly violent and has a budding online community to play against. While I think some of the chat features need to be revamped, it's definitely a game newer RTS players could get into. My only real complaint is the lack of heavy substance; since the campaign feels quick and the focus of the game seems to be primarily directed towards online, those looking for a deeper single-player experience may feel left out.
SpellForce 3 is a pretty fantastic game, but it's also pretty large and potentially overwhelming. That's not to say it doesn't create an excellent challenge, but there is quite a bit to pick up and run with for people new to the RTS genre. I feel that given some time, most can become quite adept and will thoroughly enjoy the game. And at the least, the game has some beautiful graphics to admire while you're slaughtering some crazy beast or an enemy army.
A Hat in Time is a fantastic experience. It's got stuff that anyone of any age can enjoy. I know it reminded me of some of the classic 3D platformers of the mid-to-late 90's, both in general feel and tone. Throw in a goofy-yet-fun story and a wacky cast (with great voice acting to boot), and you'll be able to get anyone interested. While the game is only available on PC at the time of this review, it will be coming to consoles at a later point.
ELEX is a game that suffers from its lofty ambition. It aims for admittedly high goals that are worth aspiring to, but it seemed to have forgotten some key things along the way. The sheer expanse of the world, rich backstory, and a mind-boggling amount of things to see/do in the game are fantastic, but the game suffers from technical issues, absurdly challenging gameplay at times, and a buffet scenario where you just have too much to choose from. The technical issues alone can be frustrating, but when you combine those with incessant deaths at the hands of minor enemies the game starts to really drive the point home that you should play on easy. Be warned though: you'll still face a hard time.
Observer is incredibly solid. It's steeped in narrative and features dark and beautiful environments. It captures the dystopian feel of an uncertain and technologically filled future. And there's certainly enough to spook you or keep you on your toes. No mind interrogation is easy or makes much sense, but you can never fully understand the mind either. Aside from the creepy, intense leaps into other's minds or completing a forensic investigation into a crime scene, much of the story is told through slow exposition. The world is seemingly devoid, and aside from a few places, I never felt pressured or frightened. It was more of a "I'll just keep going this way until something changes." The lack of interactions in the world makes me question a lot of what Lazarski experiences, making it seem like reality is suspect in itself.
Solstice Chronicles: MIA. is a solid twin-stick shooter. I enjoyed the narrative, sequences, and even the sometimes cheesy voice work. I initially wasn't aware that the game provided skill points, in fact I accrued 19 points before I even knew the system existed. My main complaint honestly is the lack of online support, as that was hands down one of the best parts of The Red Solstice.
The meat of Fictorum lies in the magic casting system and the game's ridiculously, dangerously fun physics. Blowing up buildings and bridges or sending enemies soaring into the sky is just an absolute treat. Throw in a fun story to follow along with on the map screen, and some crazy spells and the game can become quite enjoyable. The only huge concern I might have is the overall challenge of the game and how easy it can be to die. I've jumped onto house debris and managed to die before sliding off since the game interpreted it as me being hit by an object. It can get frustrating to die over and over, but thankfully the game experience is new each time.
The game rehashes several locations/areas from other Warriors titles, as is usual with these combination games. Most of the game looks great and plays well, but I'm not sure I fully understand some of the crazier elements to the game. Koei Tecmo has been putting many extras into their games in recent years, but some of the ones in this feel too tacked on, too forced. The core gameplay is still fun, and the goofy story is attractive, plus the ability to pick your battles across a large map, but I don't need a billion little things to worry about. One of the attractions of Warriors is the ability to just go hack and slash hundreds of enemies. Now that I've got an option of which character I want from whichever franchise, I'd prefer to not have all of the excess baggage with it. That being said, the game is still solid and fun experience for those who enjoy Warriors.
Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander is a fantastic game. The gameplay, visuals, and goofiness of the game are treats. I didn't necessarily enjoy the ramping difficulty of the game; I found myself almost destroyed 30 days into the campaign against a single alien fleet that ripped my three ships apart. Combined with the randomness that can potentially kill you (I ended up losing one of those ships in a random encounter) means even the best intentions can kill you. If you enjoy the threat of imminent death with fun gameplay, this one is for you.
Galaxy of Pen & Paper is an incredibly charming game that I enjoyed. However, I do come from a background of playing tabletop RPGs with friends, and it's impossible to fully recreate those nights of questing and hilarity, even then Pen and Paper does a damn fine job at meta gaming, interjecting comments, and more. I think the game's humor, references, and overall feel will draw many players, but I worry too that some may not fully jump into that recreated world. Combined with larger, but seemingly empty environments and some required grinding, it may be a further turn off to those players.
Spark of Madness adds some great new variety to Dead by Daylight. I thoroughly enjoyed using the Doctor as I hunted down survivors and Feng, once leveled up, makes a great addition to any survivor team. Considering how generally creepy the Doctor is, I think Spark of Madness does an excellent job in padding out Dead by Daylight.