I don’t often cover titles in Early Access, but the simple fact is that these games, which are still in development, are asking for customers money, and thus it might be worth covering at least some of them. Numantian Games latest effort has gotten itself a pretty big following so far, so let’s take a look at it.
They Are Billions takes a few things and mashes them together, fusing a rather pretty steampunk aesthetic with RTS mechanics and then mixing in masses of rotting zombies for good measure. There’s nothing particularly new under the hood of this Early Access hit, but so far its RTS mechanics and tower-defense vibe have been executed very well.
There’s something satisfying about a deck-builder, I think. You take the same stack of basic cards as everyone else and then proceed to slowly add new things to it, molding what you began with into something that’s yours, built around your vision for how to win. So, Gateway attempts to merge this deck-building satisfaction with area-control. Does it work? Um, sort of.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter starts with a warning about how it’s a story-driven experience that doesn’t hold your hand, a rather bold claim given how there’s a substantial portion of gamers who will actively dislike a game if they deem it to be patronising or being too intent on gently guiding the player through its world and mechanics. I was instantly intrigued by this message; did it mean The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, a game that was originally released in 2014 and has only just made it to Xbox One, was going to be full of challenging puzzles that taxed the mind? Would it have a vast world full of mysteries into which you were dropped with no real direction? So many questions.
Jesus Christ, I have absolutely no idea where to even start with Lisboa, the latest table-hogging, mind-destroying eurogame from the highly respected Vital Lacerda. I’ve reviewed one game from Vital previously and utterly adored its lavish production values and stellar gameplay, but damn was it hard to review simply due to the way every mechanic tied to everything else. To explain one thing meant having to digress into about a billion other things before stumbling back to the original topic like a drunk emerging from a pub lock-in. It was confusing. Lisboa is just as complex and tricky to discuss, so please forgive me as I muddle through talking about Lacerda’s latest attempt to turn my already worryingly overheating brain into a melting pot of pink goo.
The Harry Potter franchise holds a special place in the hearts of millions, especially my generation who grew up with both the books and the movies. I started reading the books as a child, and then the very first movie came out. As I moved through my teenage years the books and the movies grew darker, changing and evolving with my own personality and views. So in other words when a game comes out bearing the Harry Potter license I’m intrigued.
Audio is something long looked over by all except the die-hards, but now we’re finally starting to see some appreciation for sound with digital streaming companies slowly but surely abandoning the horribly low quality 256kbps compression methods, while the introduction of Blu-ray and now 4k Blu-ray discs has resulted in a marked improvement for films and games. The reason I mention this is that the Roccat Khan claims to be the world’s first “Hi-Res Audio” headset, something usually defined as being 16 bit / 44.1KHz. It’s a meaningless statement for most consumers while audiophiles are all too used to dealing with how to get the best audio possible. As such the Japanese Audio Society (JAS) and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) have created a certification for what they deem to be Hi-Res Audio, and the Roccat Khan meets the criteria.
Roccat have slowly but surely building their reputation over the years having put out a number of mice and keyboards which have gotten critical and consumer acclaim, the most notable probably being their Kone line-up of mice. Thus far I’ve not reviewed anything from the company, so today marks a first.
Flying games are a bit of a rare breed on console, so when one turns up its hard not to get a little excited about leaping into the cockpit and shooting down some unlucky pilots. This one from developer Ace Maddox was actually released on PC back in 2017, so its had a lot of feedback since then and plenty of time for changes to be made before its Xbox One debut on January 12th.
Describing a game as a mash-up of other titles is often regarded as lazy writing, and I should know because I do it all the time. However, sometimes it’s appropriate because Spellforce 3 is Baldur’s Gate meets Age of Mythology and in its mixture of RPG leveling and RTS base-building you can find mechanics taken from numerous games from across the years. It’s like a Frankenstein’s monster, all stitched together, a little rough around the edges, prone to getting in trouble with local villagers and yet has a heart of gold. Or at least, the heart of somebody.
Slightly over two pages of comic make a good first impression for Quest for the Antidote, the short tale detailing the reign of King Mithradates of Greece who spent years making himself immune to deadly poisons after seeing his father die at the hands of an assassin and his poison. Upon coming to a new land to conquer Mithradates realized that he may not be protected against the new toxins they encountered, and thus began experimenting on prisoners. You’ll be playing as one such prisoner, now poisoned and on the run you must seek the antidote along with your fellow inmates. First one to not die horribly of poisoning wins!