Today, on the Lookout Post, we’re taking a look at an up-and-coming game developed by Alter Games and published by Daedalic Entertainment called Partisans 1941. In Partisans 1941, you explore WWII from the side of the Polish partisans – an occupation resistance movement on the Eastern Front.
In this game, you discover how the story of Captain Zorin and his comrades unfold, how they battle the Nazi invaders and how they help the people while struggling to survive from day to day. While the story and its characters are purely fictional, the setting is very real and doesn’t always get explored in games, which is why I found this game so alluring.
To write this post, I played the Demo available on Steam. Check it out yourself to get your own opinions of it. The game comes out on October 14th, so be sure to wishlist it!
As Commander Zorin, you escape the enemy – known as the “Polizei” – and try to flee with your comrades. You have to sneak away from enemy soldiers, find loot and weapons, equip yourself and use your wits against the enemy to make sure that everyone makes it out alive.
Gameplay-wise, Partisans 1941 combines Real-Time-Tactics with Stealth mechanics, allowing you to sneak around and set up ambushes. Of course, you can also just storm the castle and try getting them that way but more often than not, you’re at a disadvantage on top of them being better equipped than you.
I really enjoyed being stealthy and sneaking around, spectating and observing the enemies movements and their paths. Right-clicking on enemies shows their vision cones. Pressing Alt allows you to see doors, loot, and places to hide in. You can silently kill enemies, drag their bodies away and hide them in the bushes before making your way through levels, and it’s actually quite well done. It doesn’t feel slow or too easy at any given time. While still giving you a hand and explaining things to you, the first few levels left me impressed at how challenging the game can get and how nice it feels to make it without casualties.
Each character features their own skill tree with abilities and passive bonuses that improve their ability to wield certain weapons or give them better chances of survival overall. Zorin’s able to throw knives, for instance, making for an easy stealth kill at times, although you’ll have to retrieve your knife afterwards.
The demo lasts about 90 minutes (at least, in my case) and features the first few levels. I noticed no bugs yet and was impressed with the quality of the demo. I can’t wait for the full-release. The music and visuals have been really nice and overall, I really did enjoy the voice acting and how the game felt.
The full game is going to contain 20 unique mission scenarios, 8 different characters with unique skills, a large variety of weapons, armaments and equipment, on top of a moral system, side missions, errands and the resistance base. The latter being used for preparations, crafting and treatment but also to help your allies survive. Judging from press screenshots, you’ll be able to accumulate a vast variety of weapons on top of preparing your allies according to different needs.
Overall, Partisans 1941 seems to be a promising title.
Starmancer looked like the closest thing to any of the games that I’m usually enjoying and all the demos I’ve seen on the Steam Game Festival. It’s getting published by Chucklefish which fits most of my favourite games… it’s a strategy, base-building simulation game based in Space and you essentially play as a powerful A.I. who’s controlling a base while researching, expanding and upgrading everything.
You try to survive starvation, sabotage and other threats – and worst case, you’ll just regrow your humans.
The idea of either “following protocol or going rogue” was really interesting to me, so I thought I’d give Ominux Games’ “Starmancer” a shot and I’m pleasantly surprised.
You start up with researching some technologies and building up biomass synthesizers that fuel your production and are essential for your success. You then link up your machines with pipes and wires while managing your colonists.
You send out humans on missions, make money and advance your production further to ensure a happy life to your colonists. The full game will feature diplomacy, exploration, and modding support as well as the features that are already in available in the demo like personal relationships, memories, rumours, jobs, unique colonists, procedural generation, Insanity and Mutiny.
All the good stuff!
The demo features 60 minutes of gameplay, although you may restart it whenever you want. You’re also granted a lot of starting money for the sake of exploration, as well as unlocked misc items to ensure your colonists’ happiness.
It all plays surprisingly well for an Alpha. There are no bugs from what I’ve seen, yet, and the mechanics work rather well. I still need to create a successful colony to date as I’m always failing in the worst possible way. In one run, one of my colonists started picking fights with everyone as they were hungry. This lead to them making enemies out of everyone and eventually it started to pick fights with all the other colonists (who were all pacifists), resulting in two dead and one living colonist.
I wanted to revive both colonists but sadly the mad one also turned into a cannibal and started eating them while having this urge of bloodlust… So, I had to starve the mad cannibal out until I could regrow the other ones. Starving her out didn’t work out well… So then I just vented the oxygen into space, so that she suffocates and dies that way. That worked.
When I generated more oxygen a fire started spreading and destroyed the human growth machine, resulting in no way for me to grow more and alas one run ending.
In the next one, I ran out of money and had no way to recover… and in a different one, I ran out of time and had to restart the demo as I played it for yet another hour.
So, I guess, you could say that I had a blast! I really enjoyed this game. I’d describe it as a mix of Oxygen Not Included and RimWorld.
I really liked the fact that your colonists can get better at the jobs they’re doing which would then unlock more research options and alas more blueprints and items! I would have liked it a tad more if I had a better way to see the colonists happiness and if there were more ways to increase their happiness, like giving them some rest here and there or even changing their schedule completely.
So, this is essentially a winner. I’m really looking forward to the full release which is “coming soon”.
Wishlist it and get notified when it comes out! The Alpha Demo is also still available for download on Steam, so try it out if you want to! 🙂
It’s sadly not part of the Steam Game Festival but Drake Hollow is definitely something to look out for. I’m really excited about the game – and not only due it being made by the dev behind The Flame In The Flood! The Molasses Flood’s second game can best be described as a Base-Building Action-Survival-Game.
What is Drake Hollow about?
Well, in the blighted world of The Hollow, you’ve got to defend the small vegetable folk known as the Drake from the deadly feral beasts that are threatening to attack them! The Drake can’t really take care of themselves, so you’ve got to provide them with gardens, wells, and entertainment as well as defences against the previously mentioned terrors. The Drake can literally die of boredom, so they need your attention and help in order to survive – in return, they provide you with buffs that are helpful in your quest of Survival!
Take back The Hollow as you strive for the perfect village! Build solar panels and other important machines to progress! Play with friends and hold your ground together against the imminent danger, craft weapons and gear, pack your things and migrate from place to place, from season to season. Do what it takes to live on!
I really have been excited about this game for ages now. We’ve reviewed The Flame In The Flood about a year ago, so everyone should know what The Molasses Flood is capable of (the studio, not the event).
What do I expect from this game?
First up, the soundtrack is probably going to be amazing. The Flame In The Flood featured a lovely, adventurous soundtrack made by Chuck Ragan, and I can’t imagine what they are going to come up with for the soundtrack of this game. I’d expect maybe some more mysterious and enigmatic tunes, similar to the Dungeon of the Endless soundtrack, as well as some road trip vibes with other tracks for when you’re exploring, similar to Amarante Music.
Secondly, the peaceful aspects are going to be super wholesome. Taking care of these little fellows is going to be great. Just imagine all the cute little noises and dances they might make. I’m in love with Dufflur, the Drake that can be seen in the Steam Store Page. It’s just adorable, featuring a very lovely colour and some insanely pretty eyes!
Thirdly, Co-Op is going to be great when I find the right people to play this with – and I already have some in mind! I’d imagine that the resource gathering and base-building get infinite times better with friends, probably, just like it’s so much better to play games like Satisfactory or Ark with friends.
Fourth, the combat is going to be intense and exciting! A change of pace is always good, so the resource scavenging, base building, and Drake-caretaking are going to be rather relaxed and fun to play around while combatting the “raids” will result in your heart rate spiking, in a good way of course. I wanna feel that thrill and excitement when facing off against these eldritch-looking monsters!
And at last, exploration: There are going to be a lot of different regions and seasons with each region being over a square mile big! From what I’ve gathered, there are landmarks to explore and, well, with every passing season there is going to be dynamically generated and populated areas, so you’ll always have places to go and spaces to loot, I’d imagine.
So, in essence, I’m hyped. I’ve been hyped for ages but with the game coming out on July 17th, 2020, I’m getting excited again. I probably won’t be able to play it until after the 22nd, though, as I’ve got some exams on that day, but regardless of that, this is going to be great.
So, yeah, this is my post on Drake Hollow. We’re going to write a review on this game after the release so that you can see if my hype was justified, and we soon will publish an interview with one of the lead devs on the game, so stay tuned for that!
Be sure to wishlist and follow it on Steam, if you’re interested! You may also be interested in checking out the website! Cheers!
Do you like trains? Do you like simulations? Do you like resource-management-puzzles? If this introduction reminds you of yesterday’s post, then you’ll probably realise quickly that we’re reviewing Train Valley 2 today and that I’m still as uncreative as yesterday!
Genre: Trains, Strategy, Simulation, Puzzle, Casual
Release Date: April 15, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.
Train Valley 2 is a puzzle-train-sim developed by Flazm, the developer of the prequel, Train Valley 1. Alas, the premise is still relatively the same. You’ve got different stations that need to be connected using railroads. Building tracks, bridges and tunnels as well as destroying houses and other objects costs money that you earn by successfully guiding trains from one station to the other stations.
The main difference is probably the fact that you don’t have the semi-random tunnels, bridges and stations popping up everywhere.
Instead, you’ve got the task of constructing those yourself. Apart from that, you now have to deliver resources from one station to the next, to get processed resources that then need to end up at different towns. You transport workers from trains to the fields to work on grains. You then deliver the grains and more workers to the farms to get cows. At last, you bring the cows back to the towns to complete the production goals.
But the game’s not limited to only workers, grains and cows but also features a plethora of other resources and processed items that need a lot more steps to get produced!
In the first game, trains started driving off into the distance, causing chaos and destruction, if you took too long. Meanwhile here you have full control, alas having to send them off on your own in a slower-paced fashion, which is rather relaxing and quite a bit of an improvement. The game doesn’t get easier, though, as it’s more about the decisions you make. You need to manage your funds and decide on which station to build from and to, first, before taking action. Alas, Train Valley 2 can create a relaxing and less frustrating experience while still featuring logic puzzles that are as satisfying and difficult as the ones featured in the predecessor!
Overall, it seems as if the developer, Flazm, stocked up on the quality of life improvements while also adding a lot of features that make the game more entertaining. Challenging yourself in the levels and collecting stars now enables you to unlock different train designs, for instance. Things like these make the challenges worth it, while also providing completionists with some better rewards!
In contrast to the first game’s more realistic art style, Train Valley 2 features a rather vibrant colour palette as well as a less detailed poly-based art style.
When delivering materials to the different towns, these towns get upgraded, just like in the predecessor, but it seems to be overall more rewarding. Levels aren’t tied to themes, eras and locations anymore but, instead, feature a more general approach, named by some landmark, like “lighthouse” or “Eiffeltower”. Despite that, the cities and towns still develop in different styles that aren’t necessarily “European” or “Asian”, which I personally really dug.
Another new change: You don’t go through a century per level but instead work yourself through different ages from the steam age to the electrical era to, finally, the age of space. You can find a total of 50 levels in Train Valley 2, and you have access to infinite more levels due to the Steam Workshop and the player-created levels.
The music, however, is still not my favourite part of the game…or even the franchise.
In the beginning, the soundtrack seems to fit the game, but over time you can’t listen to it anymore. The tracks (pun intended) are all way too relaxed and calm. At some point, I got so tired of the soundtrack that I ended up turning it off and listening to some other music that fits the game just as much but is a lot less monotone. The problem with the soundtrack is probably the fact that it all sounds similar if not even the same. If someone played the Train Valley soundtrack, I wouldn’t be able to recognize it at all, which, in my opinion, is what makes a great soundtrack great. It either fits the game atmospherically or it adds more value to your experience. Train Valley 2’s soundtrack seems to fit but gets annoying over time and alas, in my opinion, is not good.
On top of that, there are some issues with the bridge/tunnel-construction. It’s a tad difficult to see the terrain differences and where you can lay down tracks. In some places, you need to create bridges and tunnels although it may look like you’re able to just place tracks up the slope. When you want to construct bridges or tunnels, it can also become rather fiddly, to the point that it almost becomes frustrating.
That being said, I don’t think that this is a major flaw and while it can be a bit annoying in the beginning, you’ll get used to the controls over time and eventually learn how to use it just fine. My overall experience with the game was really satisfying and I did enjoy my time a lot, especially since I noticed the improvements from the first game.
Both Train Valley and Train Valley 2 are great games that you can get for around ten bucks. Train Valley 2 brings a lot of value to the table on top of the workshop content, which is just fabulous for games like this. If you like puzzle games and/or trains, I’d say go for it.
Trains are quite cool, aren’t they? They look cool and they’re fast and it’s a disaster when they crash into each other and I lost my train of thought, so I’ll just say that today we’re taking a look at Train Valley, a casual train-sim-puzzle by Flazm!
Release Date: September 16, 2015
Genres: Puzzle, Trains, Simulation, Casual, Strategy
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC, iOS
Copy was purchased.
The overall premise of the game is rather simple. The player has to build railways in order to connect different stations within a plethora of cities and times. They then have to manage the increasing traffic by creating crossroads and switches and by destroying old or building new tracks… and while the player is doing all of that, they also have to try to not go bankrupt while fulfilling different goals such as “no train crashes” or a certain amount of money that needs to be earned or others.
The 2015-title features four different chapters with six levels each, letting you construct train-tracks in a total of 26 different levels and in four different eras and areas: Europe (1830 – 1980), the United States (1840 – 1960), the USSR (1880 – 1980) and Japan (1900 – 2020). You also are able to get Germany (1880 – 2020) as a DLC for a total of 30 levels.
The different areas are insanely adorably designed feature a lot of details like different build styles and landmarks that the areas are known for. On top of that, the buildings also change their shape and style the longer the level goes on, indicating the progressing time, which is an interesting detail.
And well,… you control trains. It’s quite cool.
By sending trains to their destinations you earn money while you lose money yearly or when the trains arrive late. By sending out trains to different areas, you also seem to develop those areas, resulting in villages turning into towns and towns turning into cities, which is quite neat. I really enjoyed this part of the game as I was able to see big skyscrapers rise when we just had small houses a while ago.
And while the premise is rather simple… the game can be quite tough actually.
There are some levels that are hard to crack as your funds are limited and as you have to watch so many different things. Destroying buildings costs you a ton, so you have to be careful or you end up bankrupt again, which is essentially your biggest enemy in the game.
If you’re not that much into puzzling but you still very much enjoy train games, fear not, this game has got you covered!
There is a sandbox mode for this game. Alas, you can create tracks and send out levels without any pressure on every level of the game, resulting in a rather pleasant experience. You can’t create your own levels, from what I’ve seen, but it’s still rather relaxing and enjoyable.
The experience is further enhanced by a total of fifteen different types of trains from steam-powered locomotives to modern-day high-speed-trains… and there are also eighteen different types of cars as well as a lot of other details hidden in the game, resulting in an overall rather pleasant experience.
Despite the initial praise, however, I’ve got to say that there are some issues here and there.
The music, for instance, is rather annoying once you played for a while. Each area has a different soundtrack and while it is quite neat in the beginning, I had enough of it after only two hours, resulting in me muting the game…
And then there are some levels that seem a tad too frustrating… I would have liked a “hint”-button of sorts and I would have enjoyed it if you could access the next level even without playing the level before that. Sure, the next level is harder than the previous one… but I really hate that one Tokyo level, so I don’t want to play it anymore and just go for the next one. Sadly, I can’t do that, which I personally find annoying.
Apart from that, there aren’t any other flaws, in my opinion. I played the game for a total of ten hours and really enjoyed my time, despite it being so simple. For ten bucks you get a bunch of value out of it. It’s quite relaxing and adorable, the presentation is nice, the puzzle-parts can be tricky and despite my rather long playtime for such a short game, I’m still not done with it!
Therefore, I can really recommend this game to everyone who likes trains. It’s a fun puzzle game with very relaxing train-sim-aspects to it as well as a super adorable presentation, only flawed by the music that I personally didn’t really like.
I hope you enjoyed this review. It’s a tad shorter but in the end, that’s alright, isn’t it? Have a nice day!
Spooktober and Lovecraft? Sounds alright to me. Today we’re taking a look at Sea Salt, a dark reverse-horror action-strategy-game by YCJY Games who I’ve interviewed at this year’s Games Com in Cologne!
Developer: YCJY Games Publisher: YCJY Games Genres: Strategy, Lovecraftian, Reverse-Horror, Action, Indie Release Date: October 17, 2019 Reviewed on: PC Available on: PC Copy received from the Devs
After getting denied what they owed you, you’re desiring for revenge which is why you, the Old God Dagon, send out your Apostles. Those Apostles will summon unfathomable horrors to blight the human lands and make them pay for their greed and treason!
For everyone who doesn’t know all that much or maybe even nothing about Lovecraftian Horror, it’s basically a sub-genre of horror that emphasizes on the so-called “cosmic horror” and the unknowable or unknown rather than gore, splatter or the like. It’s named after H.P. Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) who has created tons of weird and terrifying horror stories, all bundled up in the “Necronomicon”. I really recommend reading some of his stories! My favourite is The Colour Out of Space, a short story about a meteorite that crashed into the “blasted heath”. That meteorite has a strange colour that begins to change the lands and people in those parts of towns! A lot of Lovecraft’s stories feature “The Old Gods”, like C’thulhu or Dagon.
Anyways, this post isn’t about Lovecraft himself or any of his stories but rather about Sea Salt.
Sea Salt plays similarly to “Rightclick to Necromance”, as you control your “minions” or “summonings” with one stick (or the mouse in Rc2N’s case) and attack with another button! Controls are very intuitive, which is something the devs really cared about, as they mentioned in an interview I did with them. You basically try to surround your enemies and innocent citizens, attacking them from all sides, while avoiding enemy-attacks and fire.
It’s an action strategy hybrid where you summon an army from the seas to punish those that defied you. The most important thing is that this game distinguishes itself from games like Overlord by not making you a hero utilizing your minions to wreak havoc – instead you’re actually controlling your swarmers, crabs, worms and other minions yourself, utilizing their strengths to the fullest while trying to make up for their own flaws.
Every minion feels differently! Every minion has strengths and flaws!
By seeking altars or collecting enough Gold, you’re eligible to summon more minions. In the beginning, you start with The Swarm. These minions are fast but lack health. They come in packs of 10, making it rather easy to surround enemies and increase your horde’s size by a great amount! Later you unlock The Worm, The Crab, The Cultist, The Fishman and other units as the game goes on and as you complete more of the story. While The Cultist has high range and damage, they are slow and don’t pack a punch! The Crab is rather tanky and also resistant to fire but doesn’t deal as much as damage as The Worm for instance.
The Apostles you select at the beginning of the runs, also have different starting units and different abilities like Aghra De Pesca, the Apostle you start with, who has stronger Swarm-minions, starts with 25 Swarmers and can let his Worms explode. I found this one rather enjoyable as he makes The Swarm stronger and as I like the whole idea of one Swarm growing and spreading horror among the lands, just like in Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm but in a pixel-style with more gore and more Lovecraft in it! I also enjoyed just taking crabs upon crabs.
The bosses are quite fun to play against!
At the end of each area, you’ve got to face off against a boss of sorts making use of new mechanics you learned earlier. At first, you’re fighting against the captain of a ship you’ve boarded, surrounding him with your swarmers while dodging his bullets. Some of the bosses and minibosses are rather easy to fight against, depending on your units, as one of the Flamethrower-guys who had to face off against my crab army (I could add Noisestorm’s “Crab Rave” here but do I want to?).
Minibosses appear as normal enemies later on, too, creating a higher difficulty the further you proceed. While the whole idea of controlling a swarm of minions and killing innocent humans can seem rather easy, you actually die quite often if you don’t watch out. You don’t want to know how many times I died against Wharfmaster Glenn!
There’s a total of 16 different units to unlock, a bunch of different Apostles with unique abilities and quite a lot of story to uncover as you spread horror among the lands! Also, you can try to aim for those 19 Achievements or even bigger rewards in the game’s Arena, for all those completionists among you.
The game really shines when it comes to the presentation!
The game uses a dark colour palette with a lot of dark-blue-ish and green-ish colours that really capture that feeling that I got from other games like Call of C’thulhu: Darkest Corners of Earth. When I think of Lovecraft, I kind of think of those kinds of colours. The dark seaside with its grey to green colours in the sea, the dirty wood among the houses and the fog and shadows that are crawling over the lands. The game is very detailed and stylized, offering a lot to see in between human-slaying! Once you finish an area off you may explore and find small animations that you won’t notice if you wouldn’t look.
The animations are fluid, the special effects like blood and fire look nice while adding some sort of contrast to the dreary environment, and overall I really liked the whole presentation art-wise.
The music fits quite well and offers a lot when it comes to variety! The sound-design also fits quite well with all the sound effects coming off your crabs, worms and swarmers.
But let’s get to some flaws.
Overall there aren’t many flaws apart from some tweaking that the game still needs when it comes to the A.I. Sometimes your minions decide to take quite a long way to get to the same point as your other minions, which is rather annoying as they don’t avoid fire anymore when you press the attack button and may end up getting a few of your creatures killed by accident.
A different issue I had was the fact that there are no save files. You start a run with one Apostle and continue playing that specific run until you end up quitting. When you want to play more, you either click on Continue or New Game. If I wanted to play this specific Apostle later but wanted to try out a different Apostle I’d have to start a new game, losing all of my progress in my previous campaign, which I find rather annoying. I mean, the missions aren’t that long anyway, but you still need to skip all the dialogue and go through the tutorial and play the earlier and easier levels again from the getgo, which feels rather tedious to me.
I wanted to test out the Arena mode just a few minutes ago and ended up playing until Wave 15 where I ultimately died. Then I thought I’d try to play more of the Campaign before finishing up the review, as I really enjoyed playing Ivan Dorovich XIII just now and wanted to test out how many crabs are too many crabs. So, I hit Continue again and… I’m back at Wave 15 of the Arena mode. Really annoying! A quick little update or hotfix probably will result in this issue getting fixed and save files of sorts getting added to the game. If not, that’s a bummer but it doesn’t bother me personally too much.
Last but not least, the Conclusion.
Overall I’d say that Sea Salt is a highly enjoyable and quite challenging game that lets you be the bad guy once again – which I really like about games – while working with Lovecraftian themes and Eldtrich horrors to create the perfect game for in between during Spooktober.
I hope you enjoyed this review! Feel free to leave feedback or comment on your favourite Lovecraft story. 🙂
In today’s Indietail, we’ll take a look at The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands, a game that I bought for two bucks and while I really want to like it, there’s some flaws that I can’t overlook. Stay tuned for a review on The Bonfire: Forsaken Lands!
Developer: Xigma Games Publisher: Xigma Games Genres: 2D, Strategy, Survival, Simulation Release Date: March 9th, 2018 Reviewed on: PC Available for: PC, Androids, iOs Copy was purchased
In The Bonfire, you’re a wanderer from distant lands who settles down and starts chopping some wood.There’s some background story to it but I haven’t really understood it for the past few playthroughs. The game has a few different menus: Actions, Build, Craft, Workers.
You’ve got one character that you control by selecting an action to do, like chopping wood to get some wood. This takes a lot of time, usually, but once you’ve managed to get your hands on a few pieces of wood (I guess), you’re able to build a Bonfire which then will attract wanderers that then can work for you.
In the Build-menu the different buildings, you’re able to build, are listed. That includes farms, mines, huts, and other buildings to get more resources and workers. Once you build the first buildings, the next ones are available. For instance, you need food at the beginning and therefore have to build a farm first to nurture your workers. Afterwards, you can build an Iron Mine to craft iron tools and improve your workers’ efficiency. After that, there’re sheep-herding, a tannery, coal mines, steelworks, a shipyard and other buildings for other jobs and resources.
Your additional workers can be assigned to different jobs via the workers-menu, while you still can work at the different places via action-menu. Workers will collect those materials automatically and bring them to your shed, one by one, day by day. Once they’re exhausted or once dusk arrives, they’ll head to the sheds or huts to go to sleep. During the night, you’re still able to work on your own since you apparently don’t need any sleep at all.
Here comes another mechanic into the game, though: During the night, monsters appear that try to kill your “villagers” aka workers. They range from wolves to giant spiders (ugh!) and even deer-monsters. After you managed to kill them, you’re able to skin them for leather, gems and other materials (it seems to be random). To combat these monsters at night, you can also make wanderers guard the village at night. When they’re guards, they can’t work during the day but will stay awake at night and fight the beasts. However, this requires you to craft a torch per guard.
That’s where I’d like to introduce items. As already mentioned, there’s the crafting-menu where you’re able to craft items for your work-efficiency. By crafting a cart (10 wood), your workers can carry more resources before returning to the shed instead of getting, e.g., one wood, bringing it back to the shed, going back to the woods, chopping another piece of wood and repeat. Instead, they chop five pieces of wood before they return to empty their cart. There’s the torch for one piece of wood that is needed for guards. There are iron tools, later one, that improve the work speed and also allow you to clear paths to the coast. Later on, you’ll need to upgrade your guards’ gear, too, as the few guards, equipped with wooden spears and torches, won’t deal enough damage to the enemy hordes. Instead, you’ll give them iron or even steel swords and armour.
What I really liked about the game was its simplicity and the fact that there are still a few mechanics that require strategy. The atmosphere is great and overall the game feels quite relaxed. You later unlock trading, research, dungeon crawling and now and then you even encounter mysterious wanderers that need food and tell you stories in return or reward you with equip. At some point, however, you notice the game’s flaws.
For instance, you can’t upgrade the protagonist. You’re able to give carts, tools and armour to everyone else but not use those yourselves? At some point, you’re short on wood or iron or something else and you click on that “mine iron” or “chop wood” button to only bring back one wood or one iron each time, which gets quite annoying. You’re not able to click on some “repeat until” or “repeat forever” button and let it run on for a bit but instead have to click on that button again and again and again. Quite repetitive. Also you can’t work at the tannery or the coal mines or somewhere else and only are limited to three to five options.
And you can’t get more efficient at it. There are workers with different traits like “Strong”, “Honest”, “Wise”, “Quick Footwork”, “Hardworking”, and others but there is no explanation for those traits and there are no bad traits, either. Sure, hardworking is good for workers, I get that. Strong is really good for warriors (that don’t protect your town btw), brave is nice to have on guards but I have no clue if I’d rather have a wise or an honest trader. Also, in the beginning, I thought that “Quick Footwork” would make them walk faster, like in Grim Nights but it doesn’t. It seems like it’s just good for Scouts, which is quite disappointing, to be honest.
Another flaw that I noticed was the material-list. You can’t move around the UI like in Banished at all and while the presentation of the game with its snowstorms and the snowy lands and all that is quite pretty, you sometimes can’t see your material list at all. Having it on a grey or darker background and just on the side of the screen instead of the top half of your monitor, would have been quite smart and handy. Instead, at nights, I’ll just have to guess what resources I’ve got and what not.
Speaking of the UI, changing jobs is a pain in the butt! You need a few different clicks in a menu that sometimes assignes jobs while you’re scrolling through the horizontal list of jobs. Afterwards you’ve got to re-asign stuff like pickaxes, carts, axes and other items. It would’ve been better if they just autoassigned those.
There are also other UI-choices that I can’t really support like the dungeon crawling having the retreat-button on the left, even when you’re travelling from right to left (which in my brain doesn’t make sense, leading to me pressing on “retreat” instead of “forward”, hence leaving a dungeon instead of proceeding).
The sound-design is horrible, too. The music is the same track all over again on days and a different one for combat. Sound and Music are often way too loud but you’re only able to turn it on or off in the settings. Once dusk arrives, you’ve got some time to work, still, before the beasts of the nights let out their demonic screech and visit your village for some tea with blood and sugar, as well as some villager-scones. That screech is even louder than the usual sounds. It’s so badly mixed that it’s too loud, even with it turned to the lowest settings in my windows sound mixer.
And for disclaimer purposes, I’d like to say that I don’t want to trash the game or anything but I personally find these flaws so annoying that I don’t really want to play the game for more than an hour or two.. When I bought the game, it was only 2€ but they raised it to ten bucks now, which is outrageous for a game with only three hours worth of gameplay and this many flaws. I still enjoyed the game for a bit for its “city-building”-aspects, I guess, but I would never have bought it for the ten bucks it costs now. It has its good sides but there’re some aspects and flaws that I can’t overlook when it comes to a review like this.
So, in the end, I can’t recommend this game at full price.
If you’re in it for the experience, wait for a sale to come and buy it for two bucks or so. And, as I said, I want to like the game but I can’t fully recommend it because of the poor execution, the horrible sound issues, the repetitive gameplay, the bad boss-fight at the end (that I haven’t even touched here btw) and all that.
BUT the sequel is in the works and it’s going for a rather isometric style with a different UI and some more city building-like aspects. From what I’ve seen it looks a lot better and less problematic, hence, I’m quite interested in that one and will probably do a review on that, too. I don’t want to bash that one but the dev seems to be quite excited about that one, too.