Posts Tagged ‘Early Access’

Golf With Your Friends Review

Golf With Your Friends Featured

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Developer: Blacklight Interactive
Publisher: Blacklight Interactive
Platform: PC – Steam

Mini golf is pretty fun in real life, but not something I typically get to play very often. Golf With Your Friends brings this simple formula to the gaming world with the right amount of seriousness (that is to say, very little at all). The point is to have fun with a decent simulation of golf alongside a heavy dose of silliness.

The game includes five courses, ranging from the initial slightly realistic one to Egypt, a haunted house, and more. Each course goes from a decent difficulty to wildly challenging with outrageous jumps and obstacles. Golf With Your Friends isn’t exactly going for realism. There’s no option to change golf clubs – all you can do is charge swings (or make the ball jump to cheat some swings).

Golf With Your Friends Featured

Golf With Your Friends, as the name implies, is a multiplayer-exclusive experience. This aspect really shines once you start customizing match options. For example, consider setting the ball to random shapes. If you thought the levels were hard, try doing them with an acorn-shaped ball.

At the time of this writing, Golf With Your Friends is on the verge of leaving Early Access at version 1.99.0. My suggestion is to buy the game now before its price increases with the full launch. It’s already entirely playable and a great time with friends.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Early Access Preview: Poly Bridge

Totally not something I created

polybridgelogo

Here’s a random tidbit about me: I have a weird affinity for bridge building games. No, that does not mean I’m good at the either. With this interest in mind, it just makes sense that Poly Bridge jumped onto my radar and never left. On one hand, it’s just another bridge game, but on the other it brings some new aspects to the table.

So far, you can go through a variety of bridge building puzzle missions. Each level offers specific items for use and may even limit how many you have access to. Although each stage has a specific budget, you can totally go over it if you need to. The goal is basically always the same – create a bridge that doesn’t crumble under the weight of vehicles!

Totally not something I created

Totally not something I created.

Things quickly increase in difficulty for folks who don’t have the basic knowledge of bridge construction or are just awful at it (such as myself). You’ve got to create anchor points, or at least something to keep bridges upright. Utilizing triangular construction techniques to reinforce strength is necessary quite often as well.

Right now, the greatest unique aspect of Poly Bridge is its ability to export your triumphs and failures as animated GIFs. They’ll even post directly to Twitter if you want. Sharing my awful bridges with the world is a dream! There’s also a sandbox mode to create new puzzles which is awesome if you have the skills for that.

Oops.

Oops.

With all that said, this is an Early Access product for good reason. Much of it simply doesn’t work yet. There’s no current Steam Workshop support, sometimes the sandbox mode freaks out, and it doesn’t seem to save either. Even the tutorial breaks if you do anything a little unexpected. Still, Poly Bridge is already an enjoyable, playable product. I just hope to see the issues ironed out in order to begin sampling user-generated puzzles!

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JumpJet Rex Review

JumpJet Rex Featured

JumpJet Rex Logo

Developer: TreeFortress Games
Publisher: TreeFortress Games
Platform: PC – Steam

There’s one creature I love more than alpacas… The tyrannosaurus rex. As such, I always adore games featuring dinosaurs of any sort, but JumpJet Rex immediately stood out. Not only did it feature a cute little dino, but it also wears cute jumping boots! The 2D pixelated platformer seemed simple enough, so I jumped right in and found it totally exceeded my expectations.

Unlike most platformers, Rex’s boots allow for infinite jumps. They also allow for horizontal speed boosts, and speedy, vertical rocket jumps. To descend quickly, Rex does a great butt stomp. Levels rely on speed, although it’s not necessary to play things quick if you don’t want to. Your main goal on each of the 40+ levels is to fly through gold rings which unlock an exit. Along the way you can nab gold coins to spend on t-rex customization.

JumpJet Rex Featured

What I like most is that JumpJet Rex gives a taste of speedrunning to folks like me who have no chance at otherwise jumping into that community. Every stage offers players three stars if they can survive without ever dying and also beat their par time. The latter proves quite a challenge, requiring careful Rex control and continual second shaving. After a while I gave up but it was fun to be super speedy while it lasted!

It’s only near the end that the game faltered. I beat the final boss in less than a minute on my first try – awesome! Then came the last stage. No spoilers, of course, but it amped up the challenge more than anything else before and threw in a count down timer and hard to see landscape for added fun. If not for banging around on that stage for half an hour my enjoyment would have remained high. With that said, there’s still tons of the game which was totally worth it.

JumpJet Rex brings platforming enjoyment to players of various skill levels and is fun almost the entire way through.


Score: 4

4 out of 5 alpacas


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Early Access Preview: Night Shift

Night Shift Featured

 

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When Night Shift first launched onto Steam Early Access it immediately compelled me, although likely not for the reasons developer Brandon Brizzi intended. It made me recall memories of playing Night Driver on Atari, as if that is something anyone would wish to emulate today. Night Shift is effectively a puzzle game in Early Access because the story needs to be filled out a bit more. Some puzzles may also require tweaking since it seems some players have a lot of trouble with them.

What is coolest about Night Driver at the moment is how it places you inside a car during the middle of the night with no other explanation. You drive in the dark and find lights – and ghosts. Why? This strangeness is immediately compelling. Puzzles relate to messing with light, as they did in Brizzi’s last game 1000 Amps. Ghosts provide vague hints to point players in the right direction but sometimes that isn’t enough.

Night Shift Featured

On multiple occasions I found myself confused with what to do next. It seemed as if the road repeated continuously with no way to break the cycle. Somehow, it always seemed just as my patience ran out that I would suddenly solve a puzzle. Pressing onward was sometimes a stilted process but it sure felt good to finally solve tough puzzles. Right now there’s at least one puzzle that hopefully gets tweaked, as it relies on watching a pattern that is very hard to see from the car’s angle.

Both from a visual and audio standpoint Night Shift is already 100% ready to go. I am a big fan of the pixelated objects in a 3D landscape. Their stark and simple coloration is pretty stylish as well. As for the music it is an excellent 80s-style selection. If you’re curious, here’s a link to artist Dance with the Dead’s “Out of Body” album page. “Robeast” is by far my favorite track in the game!

I enjoy Night Shift’s quiet, secretive tone. In some ways it worries me that too much exposition might be brought to the game’s final version. Whatever ends up happening this is still a tremendously unique title. Lovers of mysterious games should check it out.

Heavy Bullets Review

Heavy Bullets Featured

heavybulletslogo

Developer: Terri Vellmann
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platform: PC – Steam

Roguelikes have been in vogue for a few years now and yet developers are still finding new ways to iterate on them. Heavy Bullets appeared out of nowhere on Steam Early Access some time ago and quickly forged a following. Since it’s finally out of Early Access I decided to give it a look and see what exactly hooked so many players. Now I understand. Well, sorta.

Heavy Bullets is most easily described as a first person shooter. Players begin with a revolver, six bullets, and (hopefully) a masochistic personality. Unlike most games, bullets count a lot. After shooting an enemy the bullet will lay around waiting for you to pick it back up. Actually, the bullets sort of bounce around toward you but that’s beside the point. Taking care of ammo is integral because you’ve got to kill to succeed. As per most roguelikes, the challenge is rather steep and you’ll spend a lot of time dying yourself.

There’s this interesting item purchase system which is split into persistent and non-persistent goods. Everything is available via vending machines scattered about stages. Weirdly, each vending machine holds specific goods. This means you might really need health, come upon a vending machine, and find it stocked full but useless to your current situation. This whole aspect didn’t jive with me much, nor did a lack of in-game description for what certain oddball goods effects are. I know you’re supposed to buy them and find out but at this point in my gaming life convenience is a blessing.

Heavy Bullets Featured

The thing that stands out most about Heavy Bullets is the art style. Hot damn, it is gorgeous. The 80s Miami-esque color palette is just so good. The choice to keep everything polygonal also fits. Unfortunately, the colors and jagged lines sometimes screw me up. Case in point, I can rarely see snakes in bushes because the colors are too similar. My “fix” is to simply shoot any bush I need to walk by.

As a fan of modern roguelikes, there is definitely a lot to like about Heavy Bullets. However, for some reason it failed to truly capture me like other titles have. It might be my frustration with seeing enemies, or simply the fact that no matter how much I play it doesn’t seem to equate to increasing skills. Ah well, there will most certainly be a new roguelike (or hundred) down the road!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Early Access Preview: Broforce

Broforce Featured

Broforce Logo

Broforce is one heck of an action game with a title that I must admit annoys me. “Bro” this and “bro” that seems incredibly juvenile but, hey, many people apparently find it amusing. Broforce takes bro-isms to the extreme by letting players control a ton of action movie heroes. As the vast majority of Hollywood action blockbusters star incredibly muscular men, your cast of playable characters is 100% bro. You’ll likely recognize the likes of Rambo, Blade, The Terminator, Indiana Jones, Judge Dredd, and many others. Their pixelated appearances are quite cute.

Players run through 2D levels filled with enemies popping up everywhere. Sometimes these are just puny soldiers and other times they’re gigantic machine gun-wielding men or even machines. Getting hit once kills you so don’t get hit! On every stage there are cages that house a hero. By saving them you obtain an extra life and immediately become that character. Therein lies one of the biggest problems I currently have with the game. You can’t see who the character is before you activate them.

Broforce Featured

This wouldn’t be a big deal if every Broforce character were equally awesome. Unfortunately, some are really annoying to use. It’s rarely the case that most players will become accustomed to every character on a fighting roster and it’s much the same in this action game. Extra lives are great but not when you waste one thanks to a poor character choice.

Despite the lovely explosion-filled pixel graphics, excellent music, and easy to grasp gameplay, Broforce is lacking a real reason to keep playing. In either single player or online modes stages still tend to play out the same way. It just feels like some integral component that incites copious replays still isn’t there. Thankfully this is just the Early Access version. Given more time Broforce may be worth investing in once it launches.

Early Access Preview: The Dead Linger

The Dead Linger Preview Featured

The Dead Linger Preview Boxart

Developer: Sandswept Studios
Publisher: Sandswept Studios
Platform: PC (Steam)

If there’s one trend that has been seeing major success over the last few years it is wedging zombies into every game humanly possible. From adding zombies into a special mode of Call of Duty to having zombies fight against gardens in Plants vs. Zombies, we’ve seen them become quite the stale enemy type. With upcoming games such as The Dead Linger though it is obvious that some companies want to make zombies back into the fearful creatures they used to be known as.

The Dead Linger is a game that is currently in alpha and available through Steam Early Access. It has been in progress for months now but just came to Steam in late September after a huge shift to the Unity engine. Because of this, it appears that updates to gameplay have been relatively minimal but are about to pick up speed again. Thus far, they have stuck to their commitment of bringing out new updates every two weeks. This preview is based on Build 10 (hotfix 10g).

Despite all these updates and fixes, there is still tons lacking from the game. Considering this is not even a beta yet it does make sense, but will likely turn off those who aren’t aware of what the term “alpha” really means. This is already evidenced by some comments on the Steam Community forums. Of course, the game is currently being sold at a higher than usual price of $20 makes some of their anger understandable.

The Dead Linger Preview Featured

How does The Dead Linger play if you were to buy it right now? As it stands, there is a ton of work that obviously still needs to be done. You are thrust into a large map in either single or multiplayer and then must go around scavenging for food and weapons, finding suitable buildings to hunker down in, and possibly interacting with other players. With that said, none of these mechanics are fully fleshed out yet. You can find food and eat it, but weapons are a whole different story. Whether you’re equipped with a plunger or rifle in multiplayer you won’t be able to damage zombies! They just stand there (sometimes gliding around with no leg movement) and gnash their teeth at you.

This is a really unfortunate issue because they do fight in single player. But with them completely harmless in multiplayer there is currently no reason to even play that mode. When checking out a server myself, I saw people just standing around or sometimes chatting. There just isn’t any reason to scavenge to survive when there’s no threat! Once the zombies are reanimated in a future update then they’ll have a much more presentable game project.

Although the game doesn’t look fantastic currently there are various players who have complained about framerate issues. It seems the best fix at the moment is turning down/off grass but this is likely a silly issue in development that can be resolved. After all, in the case that zombies do end up chasing you, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is a game suddenly running slow. As for the overall experience, there are many times the game crashed or caused other odd issues. This is expected of an alpha product and will hopefully be smoothed out through the beta.

The Dead Linger Preview Screenshot

So far, Sandswept Studios have shown that they have many great goals for The Dead Linger. This is apparent by checking out their development roadmap. It is absolutely filled with neat-sounding (but currently un-implemented) features. They want their zombie simulation to be as realistic as possible which is why they are currently working on various systems related to character stamina, health, infection level, and hunger. Of course, many gameplay improvements are also in the works related to functionality of various gun or melee types as well as interactive vehicles.

Jumping into The Dead Linger in its current state is not suggested for the average gamer. After all, you are not paying for a fully released product but something still working itself into a playable form. The main reason to buy now is to support independent developers such as Sandswept Studios. That, and, buying now is $10 cheaper than buying once the final version is ready. There’s no guarantee with purchase that the game will ever be exactly what you want it to be, but the developers definitely have some great ideas in mind. We’ll have to wait and see if they can live up to their own goals.