The Steam Days: Week One

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If you’re not sure what you’re looking at here, take a quick peek back at our previous post that outlines what exactly The Steam Days are.

Let’s do this!

For quick reference, here are some links to the reviews you’ll find in this week’s post!

Game Dev TycoonGreenheart Games

Day One — Game Dev Tycoon is a management simulation in which you are the leader of your own rags-to-riches video game development studio. You literally start the game working from within your garage. You decide what game you’re going to make, if you’d like to do contract work, who you want to hire, or research new aspects of game development.

You can’t deny the similarities between Game Dev Tycoon and its predecessor, Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story. However, Greenheart Games puts their own refreshing spin on the management sim that left us wanting so much more. Kairosoft originally created Game Dev Story back in 1996 for PC, but Game Dev Story was ported (remade) to iOS and Android in 2010. It didn’t see North America for almost a decade and a half, but Kairosoft’s recipe still held up; a recipe that Greenheart Games improved upon.

Greenheart Games picked up Kairosoft’s ball and ran with it. Fans of management simulations will definitely be satisfied by Game Dev Tycoon.

Rob’s Gameplay tip: Try to train your staff often, but don’t forget that sometimes it’s best to replace them with somebody that is a lower level with higher stats.

Score: 4/5

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Rogue LegacyCellar Door Games

Day Two — Rogue Legacy is a sidescrolling platformer with RPG-elements that I’ve wanted to love ever since I’d first heard of it, but it’s just not quite there yet. With its cute presentation and humorous take on the roguelike (or “Rogue-lite”) genre, Rogue Legacy’s bread and butter is replay value. Surprisingly, I also believe this to be its biggest flaw.

You play the role of your own ancestors. Each new generation of would-be heroes attempts time and again to explore a randomly generated tower. When your HP hits zero, you die. You choose one of three heirs to carry on your (Rogue) legacy. Don’t be fooled, though. The new hero may not necessarily be a better hero. Each heir comes with a set of quirks; sometimes these are benefits, sometimes liabilities. Perhaps your hero has tunnel vision, and cannot see incoming projectiles from off-screen, for example. There are several of these characteristics, and each will impact your gameplay even if only slightly.

Rogue Legacy’s charm shines brightly, but several framerate issues cause some concern. I also cannot shake the feeling that the experience will be cheapened for casual players by the steep difficulty curve and repetitive gameplay.

Rob’s Gameplay tip: Don’t play Rogue Legacy with keyboard controls. Trust me.

Score: 3/5

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EvolandShiro Games

Day Three — What begins as an unassuming 8-bit sidescrolling action RPG ends as a full-blown 3D rendered trip down memory lane.

Evoland is all about upgrading the game itself. As you progress through the game, you’ll evolve your game from something that looks and sounds like an original Gameboy game, all the way to something you’d find on the PS1 or PS2. This process is achieved by locating treasure chests that are scattered around the world, typically. The graphics alone aren’t the only thing that improves or changes; game mechanics do too. It starts out in a style reminiscent of Zelda, but moves toward Final Fantasy, and more, the further you go. There are a lot of neat little easter eggs buried in Evoland as well.

I feel that Evoland’s only major shortcoming is its length. It’s a bit short, but perhaps that’s for the best. Always leave them wanting more, as they say.

Some people refer to Evoland as a video game history lesson. I can’t help agreeing with that sentiment, but it’s a history lesson that I’d hate to miss.

Rob’s Gameplay tip: Tombstones are lifesavers.

Score: 4/5

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The Stanley ParableGalactic Cafe

Day Four — The Stanley Parable is not your average game. Some might say that it’s not even a game at all, rather a piece of interactive fiction that breaks the fourth wall with the aid of Kevan Brighting’s brilliant narration.

You play the role of Stanley, a man trapped within his own monotonous existence. Stanley realizes one day that none of his coworkers are at work with him, and attempts to figure out what exactly has happened. The Stanley Parable is a very short game, featuring about a dozen different endings that have been discovered to-date. Each playthrough takes no more than just a few moments. Once you reach an ending, the game will reset and you’ll start over again — trying (or not) to escape the monotony of Stanley’s life. Most of the time, things are just a little different with each playthrough, however.

If you’re in the mood for some mind-bending zaniness, The Stanley Parable is absolutely a game that you need to check out. I would highly recommend The Stanley Parable to just about anyone; it’s a game that is more about the experience rather than thrilling gameplay.

Rob’s Gameplay tip: Type “facepunch” for a bizarre surprise.

Score: 5/5

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Papers, Please3909

Day Five — Papers, Please follows a simple recipe: two parts puzzle-game and one-part management. You play the role of an immigration officer for the glorious (read: communist) nation of Arstotzka. It’s your job to grant entry only to people whom have proper credentials. The conditions for which you can allow or deny entry will change often, adding layers of complexity to the inconsistencies you must spot. As if that wasn’t tough enough, each day of work has a limited amount of time; the more people you allow into Arstotzka, the more money you make. Errors will cost you money, if made repeatedly. Money is used to pay your bills. Neglect these bills and see your family suffer. Money also has other uses; upgrading your booth or house, for example. Of course, being an immigration officer, you are also subject to accepting bribes and the like.

Originally, this review ran way over 200 words. There’s just too many great things to say about Papers, Please. This game is best played when you can immerse yourself in it for a while, as your attention to detail is paramount during any given playthrough.

Please do yourself a favor and buy Papers, Please.

Glory to Arstotzka.

Rob’s Gameplay tip: Make sure you keep your booth tidy so that you can switch between the rule books quickly. Or have an eidetic memory, whatever works.

Score: 5/5

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Desktop DungeonsQCF Design

Day Six — Desktop Dungeons is a casual hybrid of puzzle and dungeon crawler. QCF Design has received a number of accolades for their game from various sources, most notably the 13th annual IGF awards. Despite this, however, Desktop Dungeons is something of a miss for me.

QCF Design claims that Desktop Dungeons is the perfect game for your coffee break. I agree wholeheartedly; if you’re looking for something to do on your break at work, or just want to get a quick 10-minute game in, Desktop Dungeons will definitely satisfy you. Unfortunately, this is where I feel that the game is lacking. Something just feels off, when playing it for any extended amount of time. Another feature that I find bothersome is the puzzle aspect. In my experience, most roguelikes allow the player a certain amount of freedom when traipsing through a dungeon. Desktop Dungeons takes some of that freedom away, in that the more challenging dungeons feel like they have a definite “right” and “wrong” way of doing things.

Desktop Dungeons is a great casual introduction to the roguelike genre. QCF Designs is definitely on to something here, and I’m very excited to see what their future attempts will yield.

Rob’s Gameplay tip: The Fireball spell will absolutely make or break your early gameplay. Learn to love it.

Score: 3/5

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Legend of GrimrockAlmost Human Games

Day Seven — Legend of Grimrock reminds me of my childhood. That’s right, I said it. I spent a ridiculous amount of time sitting beside my uncle with a pencil and grid-paper in hand. He would play through games like Eye of the Beholder for the Super Nintendo, and I would sit there mapping them out. We came up with a family rule, even: “When in dungeons, always go left.”

This is an oldschool dungeon crawling RPG. You pick and create your four characters, choose their classes, skills, and attributes. Once all that’s done, you’re thrust into first-person action. Buckle up, because your dungeon crawling skills are going to need to be sharper than ever. Hidden switches, various traps, and the gnarliest of baddies await you.

Any fan of roleplaying games in general, video game or tabletop, should give Legend of Grimrock a try. If you aren’t a fan of the main campaign, that’s not a problem; there’s a ton of Steam Workshop mods to try out, too!

Rob’s Gameplay tip: Poison can really harm your party. Get into a safe place and sleep it off instead of wasting recovery items!

Score: 4/5

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That does it for the first week of The Steam Days! Please leave us a comment for your chance to win a game from your wishlist of up to $20 in value via Steam!