MegaSphere - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Action / Platformer
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

Disclaimer: the game is in early access, so a lot of things are probably going to change/improve. The review is actual for the 4th of May 2017.

In MegaSphere, your character is investigating why are the stars of Solar System are going dark. It is an action-platformer, where you explore massive randomly-generated levels with well-defined objectives and progression.

The Good:

  • Challenging difficulty. The game feels really skill based. When you die from the enemy attack – you know exactly how you messed up.
  • Plenty of weapons with different shooting patterns and tactical uses. Weapons can also be upgraded by putting special modules in the slots. I.e. reflection that makes bullets bounce from walls. Shooting also feels nice: the weapons you get at the start are by no means powerful, but it’s a great feeling when you hit something successfully and then finally destroy it.
  • Great lightning and particle effects: the backgrounds are dark, and they make a great contrast with explosions / other game effects, which are masterfully made. These are hands down some of the best effects I’ve seen in a 2d game.
  • The music and sounds are OK. Not exceptional, but not bad: music does not feel repetitive and gives a good background for playthrough.
  • Environment with destructive elements: some parts of the levels can be destroyed, there are also explosive crates which you can use strategically to damage enemies.

The Bad:

  • The beginning is a bit slow and somewhat boring. There’s a good idea about gradually introducing game features by continuously unlocking them to the player (dash -> gun -> upgrade menu -> codex -> map, etc), but right at the start you need to traverse large spaces without much stuff going on. It gets much better when you enter the second location though.
  • No pausing the game when you open codex / equipment window. It’s probably by intention, but it often prevented me from reading codex / equipping stuff when I felt like it.
  • Maybe a bit more explanation about how saving works? I.e. codex record about this: right now even if I reached the checkpoint before boss, died, then respawned at the same checkpoint a few times, then exited the game – I still get thrown one level back to the checkpoint there.
  • Navigation tab could really use a legend somewhere, because icons of the map are not really obvious (i.e. at least in codex, where weapons are described; the game could do the same with navigation icons: icon – description).
  • AI is sometimes easily fooled (especially with destructive environment) – but in all honesty it does not make the game any less challenging

Summary

I think the game got my attention by its difficulty. The no hand-holding approach definitely works here, making fights and exploration entertaining and victories rewarding. Due to this, I can strongly recommend the game.

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Feature Image taken from the game store page, here

Dimension Drive Indie Game Reviews 2017 Screenshot Steam

EDIT: Developer’s Reply Below

Genre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: with the current feature set, wait for 50%+ discount; otherwise wait for early access to end and see what’s introduced.

Disclaimer #1: I got the key for free
Disclaimer #2: The game is in early access, some things are ought to change

Dimension drive is a shoot-em-up that introduces a double battlefield mechanic. Your screen is split into two parts, “Dimensions” and the fighter under your control can swap between them (avoiding damage and replenishing energy). You fly through the level, collect the data pickups and bonuses, and if things get rough on one part of the screen, or you need to reload your weapon, you switch to another part.

Pros:

  • Innovative game mechanics
  • Well-polished graphics
  • Due to double-screen mechanics, level design is pretty creative
  • Challenging and difficult
  • Nice music and sounds

Cons:

  • The first bosses on the both sides of the screen. Have separate health pool. In theory – it’s a good idea, but in practice it makes fight extremely easy if you kill the boss on one side of the screen (you can just shift to the other side to dodge projectiles at any time without danger whatsoever).
  • Not much weapon variety, the first world only has one different weapon (the developers promise more later)
  • Co-Op: You have the same health pool between both players (but it seems that enemy hp is doubled). The damage one player takes automatically affects both of the players. No separate health pools. This makes the game tricky to play with your guests. If they are not as good as you are – you are simply going to go down with them.
  • Ramming into obstacle instantly kills you even on normal difficulty. I personally found the game too difficult to play because of that.

 

Summary

My main frustration with the game were the obstacles: if you switch from screen 1 to screen 2 (into the obstacle) – you are instantly destroyed, even if you have full shields. I don’t mind the extra difficulty, but I think this is not a good user experience: you focus on one part of the screen, then jump to other to dodge the bullets. But wait, there’s an obstacle there. You die. Instantly. I think the best course of action would be disallowing the player to switch if there’s an obstacle on the other side of the screen: more often than not it will result in player taking damage (which is fair since he could not dodge well) instead of being instantly-destroyed (which seems unfair because well, try focusing on two points on screen simultaneously: changing you eye focus takes some time). At the same time, if you switch your focus on to the next screen, there’s a great probability that you’re going to ram into the obstacle on the first one.

At this point, if I am honest with you, I cannot recommend the game to my friends due to how screen switching mechanics work and not much weapons. Having said that, I think effective focus switch is a skill that can be trained, so if you don’t mind that – definitely give the game a try. The game is definitely not bad and I’d say this is a niche game for you shoot-em-up lovers, but if you are more on a casual side of things (like I am) – I’d skip this one for now or see how early access will end. The developers are definitely trying their best and if they deliver their promises – I’ll be more than glad to take another look at the game. At the current point though, I find the game too expensive for what it offers.

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Feature Image taken from the Dimension Drive store page, here

Developer’s Reply

Hi Vladimir,

Thanks for the feedback. We fully agree with your points regarding lack of weapons and the issue with the lasers (which is a bug that we have identified on our issue tracker). And yes, the game needs more levels and more work as you have fairly said it is Early Access and we intend to add more.

However, I have to say that there are some things that are like that by design choice. Dimension Drive is a hardcore challenging game in the vein of the classics like Gradius, R-Type, or more recently Ikaruga where obstacles instakill you. Obviously that’s going to be an issue for casual players who don’t want this challenge and for those players I fully agree with your statement that the game is maybe not for them. Also, the extra challenge of playing and focusing on two sides is part of the design, again I’m sorry it wasn’t for you but removing the danger of teleporting into obstacles would remove part of the challenge we wanted to make.

Finally, I want to say that we are planning to add an Easy mode as you can see in our public Early Access roadmap (https://trello.com/b/1OpgMDJ3/dimension-drive-early-access-development-roadmap). In that mode we plan to have a visual warning when you are in a situation that if you teleport you die but you would still be able to do it if you are careless teleporting. That may help more casual players but in any case the game will still continue to be a hard and challenging game.

Thanks a lot for take the time to play Dimension Drive.

David

== End of Developer’s Reply ==
Hope it gives somewhat a full picture 🙂 Overall, I totally agree with the letter; Not for the casual players, but if you are a hardcore shumup fan – this game might be for you.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf Steam Screenshot

Genre: Tactical Strategy/RPG
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: if you are into multiplayer – yes, as it is fun; if you are into singleplayer – wait until early access is done to see if the game has improved;

Disclaimer #1: I got the key for free

Disclaimer #2: The game is in early access (the roadmap is described on the store page, http://store.steampowered.com/app/553210/ )

Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf is a card-driven turn-based tactical game with RPG elements. The game enters in early access, and in this point it is fair to say that while the premise sounds really cool, the singleplayer execution so far is somewhat questionable. The graphics and effects are fine, it’s the mission gameplay that I have problem with.

Pros:

  • Fun to play
  • Actions taking time is a good approach: you can make two „long” actions and allow the enemy move before yours, or you can do a short one, take a break and attack again before the enemy gets a chance to move
  • The graphics are well polished
  • Plenty of cards/content to diversify your playing experience
  • Well, it’s warhammer 40k universe. Which is pretty badass by itself
  • Multiplayer is actually good

Cons:

  • Deckbuilding UI is clumsy and unintuitive. (But the early access roadmap promises to tune it)
  • Cannot turn your character without moving (which is essential for the gameplay)
  • Some enemy units can attack you with melee attacks diagonally, but your melee attacks can only go in front
  • Very difficult (not sure if intentional) – in missions, enemies just keep spawning when you step on certain areas (meaning you can’t go around the enemy sometimes without spawning new ones). The difficulty did not bother me much, but this unpredictability is killing it.
  • The game feels too reliant on RNG. 70-80% hitrate makes you feel screwed by the game quite often. If you are lucky to dodge enemy attacks – great. If you shoot 3 times in a row and miss – it stops being cool. Obstacles don’t do much and do not seem to impact the shooting: you can’t hide behind them „x-com style.”

 

Summary

Not surprisingly, I’m going to compare the game battle system to x-com. Let’s talk about single player, because multiplayer do not have most of these issues (well, except for random factor).

Right now, the issue with the game is not the content. Personally, I did not enjoy the game due to unpredictability: the enemies just spawn in too big numbers in pre-scripted manner. X-com avoids it by showing fog of war: that way you can scroll around the map and at least try to take into account that an enemy can be hiding somewhere. In this case: the map is wide open, but the enemies simply appear in front of you as you step forward. Speaking about the missions, if you try to go too far (to flank the enemies) – more ones will spawn just in front of you. In my opinion, the planning aspect is very important for turn-based games, but it is missing here.

Despite its flaws, the game really has potential. I cannot recommend the single player experience right now, but the multiplayer is really engaging. The mission unpredictability (enemy spawning after you reach certain points) and too much random factor in shooting (and no way to affect this effectively) hit the game in a bad way though. Buy if you are really into tactical games, like multiplayer or enjoy wh40k universe. Otherwise wait for the game to leave early access.

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Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?! Game Screenshot

Genre: Adventure/Roguelite
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes.

Disclaimer #1: I got the key for free
Disclaimer #2: This one won’t be that short
Disclaimer #3: The game is close to release, but it is still work in progress and I had a preview version

„Holy Potatoes! We’re in space?!” offers a new take on a space exploration game. I suppose comparisons to “Faster Than Light” are inevitable, so let’s get this out first: similar to FTL, you control a ship that must traverse galaxies and the time is running out. Similar to FTL, you encounter various events and enemies. Similar to FTL, you recruit your crew, each one of them has their own strengths and weaknesses. Similar to how you loved FTL, you are going to love this game. They are different games though.

The ideas might be the same, but the execution definitely differs. ”Holy Potatoes! We’re in space?!” is west-meets-east kind of game, that mixes the game development styles from both sides of the world and keeps the best parts of them. Although there’s plenty of randomness, it’s not really a roguelike like FTL: the game is more plot / objective driven. You explore the space on your starship, taking turns to move from one galaxy to another. Each galaxy has a hub, something like a shop/upgrade center, where you can buy craftable item blueprints, crafting resources, weapons, upgrade your ship modules and hire more crew.

Indie Game Review 2017 - Holy Potatoes! We're in Space?! Ship Interior

After you visit the hub, you can travel to new planets and explore them, that’s where the main gameplay takes part. Exploration is just a series of events, from simple random quest encounters to enemies. The combat is turn-based (think JRPG turn based): your ship has multiple weapons, each one controlled by a crew member, and you may choose what weapons to use. You can also assign shield to your ship components or use special abilities.

Pros:

  • Unique Style, universe based on humor and lots of game and popular culture references
  • Interesting gameplay with lots of variety, game is really fun to play, the great blend of different mechanics really makes the game stand out
  • Depth of micromanaging, lots of things to do: crafting/ship parts/crew/weapons
  • Lots of items / craftables to customize your ship
  • Plenty of random events and enemy encounters

Cons:

  • The style / humor is not for everyone: I personally like it, but if you’ve played the other game (“Holy Potatoes! A weapon shop?!”) and did not like the style/humor – chances are you won’t like this one too.
  • The battles can get a bit repetitive: after all, you’re just firing the weapons at enemy and he fires back
  • Minor one, but had some issues with tutorial (notified the developers); as the game has lots of gameplay elements, it’s pretty easy to get lost in UI at first. It gets much easier later on though.

 

Overall, while I would not call this game a spiritual successor to FTL, I must say that it scratches that same „FTL itch” we all had after finishing the game. The game offers a unique take to the mechanics and Daylight studios do not disappoint with their execution: everything is well thought out and polished, the game is fun to play. It’s a great mix of genres, offering great depth of micromanagement paired with exciting RPG battles. Because of that, I highly recommend the game.

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Xenoraid Steam Game Screenshot

Genre: Action/Shoot-em-up/Bullet Hell
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

Disclaimer: I got the key for free.

Xenoraid is a shoot-em-up/bullet hell, where you control earth defence fleet against alien invaders. Instead of controlling 1 vessel, player owns up to 4 ships which he can swap during the game (also used as a way to dodge enemies/projectiles).

Pros

  • Great weapon „juiciness”: even most basic weapons feel great to fire
  • Fun to play
  • Good variety of weapons/Fighters
  • Neat graphics / effects
  • Challenging: can’t simply go forward and blindly shoot at everything, have to do lots of maneuvering and plane switching
  • Micromanagement elements: manage your individual aircraft upgrades as well as perks that apply to all aircraft

Cons

  • Lack of difficulty controls: developer said that some players report the game being too difficult and I agree to it.
  • Compared to the normal level difficulties, the boss fights were pretty easy. Don’t get me wrong, they are still engaging and interesting, but after what normal levels are throwing at you – you’ll feel somewhat underwhelmed.

Summary

I’d say give it a try when you can. The game is definitely well polished (well, what else can you expect from the creators of Crimsonland?) and the new mechanics introduced make the shoot-em-up genre feel fresh again.

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Feature Image taken from the Xenoraid store page, here

Everspace Steam Game Screenshot

Genre: Space Action/Roguelike
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes, if you enjoy space actions/roguelites

If you would ask me to give a brief description of Everspace, I’d instantly say that it’s a mix between Freelancer and Rogue Legacy. You travel from sector to sector of the galaxy via hyperspace jumps, kill the enemies and gather equipment to get to your goal (which is intentionally vague). The game is not open space, there is a route that you must follow. After you die – you have to start from scratch. However, you get to keep your money so you can upgrade your ship post-death and make the next run smoother.

Pros

  • Responsive ship controls using keyboard and mouse, decent space dogfighting combat
  • Great replayability: after you die, you get to equip the ship for the next run and try to do better
  • Amazing graphics: space seems very vivid
  • Challenging: you won’t go far during your initial runs, but that’s perfectly fine.
  • The missions/small challenges add focus to the gameplay
  • Innovative mechanics that work quite well: I think that’s the first combination of roguelike and space sim, have to give props to dev for making it work.

Cons

  • At this stage, the game can get a bit repetitive. Initial levels don’t offer enough variety. It often feels like you are going on the same track when you fly through them. (And you’re going to fly through them a lot!)
  • Looting often feels like a tedious job – flying from point to point just to shoot asteroids / crystals can get you bored. The upside is that you don’t have to hunt for resources, but you are greatly reducing your chances to have a good run.
  • Like with lots of roguelikes out there, you can get screwed by the gods of random, ensuring an unfavorable setup against you. You might get no decent weapon drops/overwhelming enemy numbers, that ultimately leads to your demise.

Everspace Review Summary

If you enjoy either permadeath roguelites or space action games – this one is for you. The space dogfights combined with permadeath/improvement mechanics will keep you entertained for some time. I’d probably suggest waiting for full release tho – the game is enjoyable as it is, but the developer promises much more content later on. If you don’t like idejas of permadeath and dying a lot and starting from scratch to achieve your objective – skip  this one.

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Feature Image taken from the Everspace store page, here