Most of the games “featured” today are either in early access or probably should be.
Pretty small amount of releases for the day. If you haven’t seen my announcement post about Journey Through Steam, you should go check it out. When you have the chance.
This post is part of a series where I feature the most interesting new releases on Valve’s Steam store. With my first impressions commentary to go along with each. Learn more about this series at this blog post.
Mixed Feature: Black Mesa
Has it really been three years? Three years since the release of the reinterpretation of Half Life in a modern source engine and I kinda expected a full release at this point. This game has been in development hell for over ten years. And the game showed it when I gave it a run through back in 2012. Performance problems, crashing, memory leaks and design issues. And the platforming, oh wowsers was the platforming even worse than before. (Though I’ll admit that nostalgia may be ruling my impressions on this point). To top it off, the entire Xen portion of the original Half Life campaign was completely missing. Here it is three years later and the developers seem to indicate that the game is still not complete. Look, I get that game development is hard. But to spend over ten years on a single game….its concerning. Games that have spent that much time in rarely come out well.
They claim that they haven’t done nothing for the past three years. A new multiplayer system, modding support and a heavily updated single player experience were added to this Steam version. They’re keeping the original release as a mod for free which is probably a good idea. Their hopes are now to finish out the game with a revamped Xen experience. Which is a good thing as the original Xen was nothing but a nightmarish first person platforming playground. An experience I hope to never repeat…
Ok, harshness aside, Black Mesa was a reasonably good reinterpretation of the original Half Life. The combat and play style was solid. The story done pretty well despite some levels missing. The OST is just fantastic. I’ve listened to it so many times over the years, its nuts. Really, go to the website and download it. While the game had issues, it did keep the Half Life experience mostly intact with a more modern take on it. For better or worse depending on your point of view. I’m not really sure if I’m up to trying another first person platforming experience again or not. It’s one aspect of gaming I’m glad has mostly died off. I’ll be keeping an eye on these guys and will probably mention this game when it comes out completed. For now though, I would suggest not buying it in early access.
There are some games that are such cute abominations of nature that I can’t help but share them. Take Snakebird for example. It’s a game where you try and get snake birds to the end of the level.
Yeah, just let that sink in for a moment. We’re talking about a horrific combination of snakes and birds being tortured for our amusement. Sure, it’s got cutesy graphics, cutesy art style and it’s so cute you could drown in the cuteness! But beneath that cute exterior is a game about pain and suffering. Birds that bend and twist through mazes and labyrinths. All to get food or to the end of the level. One wrong turn and they either get stuck or fall through the clouds. It’s disturbing to watch, to watch these cute animals try and survive. Day in and out.
Or its just a cute indie puzzle game made to be challenging with a cute concept for the main characters. I don’t know, you decide which interpretation is correct. (On a truly serious note, its got a lot of good design just oozing from the trailer. It stands out from the pack for the interesting mechanics on display).
Mixed Feature: Castaway Paradise
A lot of people have fond memories of playing Animal Crossing or Harvest Moon. I am not one of them. Oh, not for the reason you probably think, I just never got the chance to play any of them. Probably one of the few people in my generation that never did. I can’t really tell you why I never did either as I did have a Gamecube and Gameboys for a while. It just never happened. Maybe Castaway Paradise will be a chance to enjoy that genre of gameplay. It’s in early access though but it looks to have most of the features those games had. I think. Again, not having played what has come before makes it hard to guess. But I don’t see this genre on Steam too often so I thought I’d share.
There are some trailers I watch, some screenshots I look at that just scream: this should be in development longer. Sandmason is one such title. Honestly, I would have written it off had it been in Early Access. But instead, they’re charging $12 for it and claiming its complete. What I can pick out from the trailer is that animations are sorely lacking, much of the interactions with the environment have little to no impact (sound, FX or otherwise), the UI looks extremely basic and the platformy/flying parts of the game look extremely floaty. I don’t like getting harsh on indie projects but this game doesn’t look or feel ready to ship. The trailer really fails to show off any mechanics that haven’t been done in other FPS games either. Being that this is a first-impressions series, I have to go with my guts by what I have to see. And Sandmason could use some more time in the cooker.
Anti-Feature: One Manga Day
Speaking of games that should be in the cooker longer, One Manga Day needs some more development by the looks of it. The trailer is completely incoherent, I have no idea what’s going on. Like a mad drug trip. The art and animations are….extremely subpar from what I could see of the trailer. This is free to play, but I don’t think I have the time for it. Also, this trailer follows the trope of showing only the character’s name and faces/bodies. Without any context or reason why we should care about them. I wonder who started this trend in the genre and why.
Side Note: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
The standalone prequel to The New Order released today. It’s getting a reasonable amount of positive reception which probably isn’t surprising. I still haven’t gotten around to playing The New Order just yet but it’s on my list to do at some point. I think it’ll be one of those games I’ll really enjoy reviewing. Until then, nothing I’ve heard to warn you off from it.
Side Note: Warhammer 40,000: Regicide
Ever does the Warhammer 40K license continue to be stretched to weirder and weirder concepts. In this case, a variation of chess. What’s interesting is that they have all these slo-mo shots of guys getting cut up, with plenty of blood and a minor amount of gore, but you can clearly tell that the model being chainsawed isn’t splitting apart.(Like most bodies naturally would). It’s like they went half way with the blood/gore aspect of it, it’s a bit weird.
Thanks for reading!