Highland Arrow

The Long Dark

Early Access Review: The Long Dark

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jan 19, 2017.

Recommended:  While there is obviously more the developers intend to add, The Long Dark as is now, is already a compelling survival experience.  There's a few rough edges - but not many, and the experience itself offered an absorbing and somewhat surreal survival experience in that frigid north.  If you're looking for a building-oriented game, you should look elsewhere, but if survival is what you want out of these games, none does it better than The Long Dark does right now, in my opinion.  While there's some areas for improvement, including most notably better allowing players to better improvise, they don't ultimately detract enough from the experience that I was ever taken out of it.  This is a game of exploration and survival, and boils it down to its basest essence, and given an interesting world to explore, and strong survival mechanics, it comes easily-recommended.

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Early Access Review: Rimworld

Early Access Review: Rimworld

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 18, 2016.

Neutral:  RimWorld is one of those games I dread writing a review for, because I really want to like it a lot more than I ultimately did.  There is a compelling and intricately-detailed colony builder in the vein of a science fiction adaptation of DwarfFortress just struggling to break out of its limitations here, but it feels like it doesn't quite do that, at least not yet.  A lack of proper tutorializing and random events that can severely handicap and even even abruptly a scenario that's going well otherwise, without any easy option to restart such as DwarfFortress' embarkment mechanic, lead to many a rage-quit.  While it's true to say that the appeal in the difficult city-builders such as DwarfFortress, Banished, and so forth, is in being able to scrape by when things go wrong, there's a feeling that I could not escape that even doing things 100% correct, there's going to be times the game just pushes my shit in, and without an easy way to get back into the action, that unfortunately means I could only recommend it in its current state to those fans of this "hardcore" builder genre that have an especially high tolerance for "Fun" as it so sarcastically gets called in said circles.  With some more time in the over to even out its idiosyncrasies and smooth the rough edges, this could easily be one of my favourite builders, but as stands right now, it's just not there.

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Early Access Review: Thea - The Awakening

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Oct 4, 2015.

Recommended: Thea is at its core a compelling mix of 4X strategy and rogue-like RPG that suffers somewhat for proc-gen but is still quite fun.  It's hard to understate how the proc-gen does make some runs rather frustrating, but the way the game involves you in the story of the villagers you are trying to see survive from adulthood to whatever end awaits inevitably weaves quite an interesting tale.  While there's no doubt more that will be added over the course of its stay in the Early Access program, there's a lot to love already in Thea - The Awakening.  Worth a look for fans of something like Heroes of Might & Magic or King of Dragon Pass, certainly, even as is now.

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Early Access Review: Magbot

Early Access Review: Magbot

Written by Trever Bierschbach and published on Sep 6, 2015.

Recommended:  While Magbot may be even better when it’s finished, it already has the makings of a fun, retro-style game.  Fans of classic platformers will enjoy the mechanics, and the story, and people who enjoy puzzles should also find it interesting.  Problem solving is required in small amounts, which gives the game a little more meat than just jumping from screen to screen to progress to the next level.  I think the price point is a little high, for what’s there, but if it doesn’t go up much more as content is added it should be a good value overall.  With the different game options available, it should have a fairly decent replay factor as well.

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Early Access Review: ARK: Survival Evolved

Early Access Review: ARK: Survival Evolved

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Aug 29, 2015.

Not Recommended:  I really hate to come down on ARK: Survival Evolved, but there's too much wrong here to recommend in its current state.  I will say however, that the core game mechanics - especially the taming and riding aspects with the dinosaurs, offer a lot of promise if they manage to even out the technical and design problems.  As is presently, the frame-rate chugs, there's wide-spread performance problems, and the combat feels weight-less.  There's some fun to be had as a purely sandbox affair, but that's about it in it's present form.  I wouldn't say it's enough to make up for the technical issues.

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Early Access Review: Besiege

Early Access Review: Besiege

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jun 30, 2015.

Recommended:  A fairly-polished game already, Besiege's main lacking is content of the missions variety, but it's perfectly functional as is.  A builder with a focus on destruction mechanics and some silly fun, the creative aspect of this game will no doubt captivate those whom are willing to look past the Early Access label.  This is the kind of Early Access done right we saw in Kerbal - perfectly fine as is, and it only looks to get better in the future.  Highly recommended.

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Early Access Review: Courier of the Crypts

Early Access Review: Courier of the Crypts

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 26, 2015.

Recommended:  While Courier of the Crypts could stand to teach you its core mechanics a little better, what is there is a nicely-wrought, very charming retro RPG with a very new spin on mechanics.  It's not the deepest RPG you'll ever play, but what is there is well-polished and well-executed.  It could easily stand on its own right now, even with its flaws, and given the nature of Early Access, that's high praise.  Worth a look, if you like a retro game with a twist.

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Early Access Review: Kerbal Space Program

Early Access Review: Kerbal Space Program

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Apr 26, 2015.

Recommended:  Kerbal Space Program has been held up often as "Early Access done right" and with a fun and engaging simulator equal parts creative and scientific, it's a reputation well-earned.  KSP is much more complete than many full releases and only improves with each iteration.  Some very basic graphics are nonetheless presented stylishly and the simulation aspects are strong without being overwhelming.  If the premise at all interests you, it's well worth looking into.

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Medieval Engineers

Early Access Review: Medieval Engineers

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 25, 2015.

Neutral:  While the sandbox building is fun and quite functional, I don't think there's quite enough here in Medieval Engineers to recommend it yet.  That's not to say it is bad, but it's not quite developed to a point where you can really enjoy it yet, due to a lack of features in the survival mode, some clunkiness in controls, and the like.  Definitely a promising title to keep an eye on, however.

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Fancy Skulls

Early Access Review: Fancy Skulls

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Feb 20, 2015.

Neutral:  Fancy Skulls is a very functional arena shooter "roguelite", but there wasn't anything that I really enjoyed.  It seemed really unsubstantial, something that I can't say I didn't very mildly enjoy while I played but immediately forgot about after playing.  The art style is the one notable thing, everything else treads on ground so well-trodden its not so much that as basically purged with fire and salt right now, and while the art style may be of interest to some, it didn't hold mine.

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Prison Architect

Early Access Review: Prison Architect

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 27, 2014.

Recommended:  There's some bugginess that will need ironed out and some of the prisoner bios are really quite silly in Prison Architect, but beyond those relatively petty gripes it's a wonderful management sim in the same league as Theme Hospital. Unquestionably recommended.

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Preview: Black Ice

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on Jul 25, 2014.

We take an early look at Black Ice, an award-winning cyberpunk-themed rogue-light game available now on Steam Early Access.  Spoiler: It's kind of fun!

Read more: Preview: Black Ice

Heavy Bullets

Early Access Review: Heavy Bullets

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 29, 2014.

Recommended:  If you ever wondered what a early 90s FPS shooter would have looked with rogue-light elements and Atari 2600 sound effects, look no further than Heavy Bullets.  It is a simple but highly-effective FPS given additional depth with those elements and several large doses of retro styling.

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Space Engineers

Early Access Review: Space Engineers

Written by Maiyannah Bishop and published on May 13, 2014.

Recommended:  A well-implemented and fun sandbox creation game that is strangely absorbing, if a little lacking.

Read more: Early Access Review: Space Engineers

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