The Steam Days: Week Two

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Week two of The Steam Days is upon us!

Here the reviews you’ll find in this week’s post!


StarboundChucklefish Games

Day Eight — Starbound is one of the first “early access” titles that I’ve had the privilege of playing. The game is in beta at the moment, but there’s enough content there to justify a brief blurb about what to expect from Chucklefish Games’ cosmic exploration game.

Lee and I have previously described Starbound as the “space-version” of Terraria, another young game that both appears and handles very similar to Starbound. It’s difficult to look at Starbound without making the comparison; both games are 2D sidescroller Minecraft-esque exploration/adventure titles.

By means of procedural generation, Chucklefish is able to truly say that their game has near-limitless possibilities. Everyone will get to explore, hunt, craft, forage, cook, and more, on truly unique planets. Starbound allows you to travel an entire universe, which means procedurally generated planets and content all over the place!

If you dug Terraria (see what I did there?), you should absolutely love Starbound. If you haven’t checked out either, opt-in to Starbound’s early access! You’ll find yourself losing hours, chipping away at the secrets of the planet you’re on, and the planets you’ll soon find.

Rob’s Gameplay tip: Make absolutely sure that you’re ready for battle before you activate a distress beacon, or find you may be in for the fight of your life.

Score: 4/5

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Sir, You Are Being HuntedBig Robot Ltd.

Day Nine — I have a hard time with first person games these days. The vast majority of them are shooters or “horror” titles, but Big Robot’s latest offering feels like it’s in a genre and league all of its own.

You can tell that Sir, You Are Being Hunted (SYABH) is a unique experience right from when you boot the game. You’re asked to choose a profession and generate your archipelago from a group of pre-set biomes, then you’re on your way! Thrust into the story shortly thereafter, you’re tasked with finding your way back home from the mysterious alternate reality that you now find yourself in. There’s just one problem, as you may have guessed: you are being hunted… By robots dressed in Victorian attire. It’s your choice to handle these robots by fighting them head-on, avoiding them entirely, or simply outsmarting them.

SYABH terrifies me, given my fear of cyborgs and androids, so I played for as long as I could stand to. I really loved the survival and scavenging aspects and cannot wait to see what the finished product looks like. Don’t let this one fly under your radar, early access be damned!

Rob’s Gameplay tip: Misdirection and simple patience are your best friends. Only fight if you absolutely have to, but it’s usually better to just run.

Score: 5/5

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FTL: Faster Than LightSubset Games

Day Ten — FTL is, in a nutshell, Star Trek meets Oregon Trail. You command your own ship and must adequately manage your resources as you make your way across the galaxy, fleeing from rebels. They’re trying to catch and destroy you because you’ve captured some vital information. Seems easy enough, right? Wrong.

The whole aim of FTL is to recreate those situations that would arise in yesteryear’s episodes of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and the like. As such, there are literally hundreds of sidequests that you can encounter while exploring. Usually these involve making decisions as to whether you’ll help some people, attack some pirates, etc., etc.

Another interesting feature of FTL is the management aspect; ensuring that your ship is adequately staffed. If you don’t have crew in the engine bays, how will the engines run optimally? Certain characters may be better at fighting; why send an away team full of weaklings to an enemy ship?

FTL will make you frequently face the fact that there really just isn’t a right or wrong decision sometimes. Be prepared to deal with the consequences, no matter what decision you make, as they’ll have a habit of coming back to bite you.

Rob’s Gameplay tip: The last bit of combat in the game is very challenging. Make sure you have prepared with as much firepower as you can muster.

Score: 4/5

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Super Meat BoyTeam Meat

Day Eleven — Indie Game: The Movie fans will recognize Edmund McMillen & Tommy Refenes’ zany platformer, but for those unfamiliar: Super Meat Boy is a goofy, whacky, and all around crazy platformer.

Super Meat Boy will put even the most seasoned Megaman veteran’s skill to the test. You will need to rely on every last ounce of your wall-jumping and platforming prowess in order to save the damsel in distress. While this story may sound all-too-familiar, the characters of Super Meat Boy are bizarre enough in nature to keep it all in a league of its own. Our main character is a haemorrhaging blob of meat, his damsel is made of bandages, and his arch nemesis is a jarred fetus in a tuxedo.

If you’ve ever given one of Edmund McMillen’s envelope-pushing games a shot, you’ll instantly recognize his particular brand of insanity and surrealism. Whether you love or hate the characters and content, the gameplay itself is rock solid and challenging enough to leave you wanting more.

Rob’s Gameplay tip: Go out of your way to find the easter eggs and hidden areas. They’re worth it.

Score: 4/5

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SpeedrunnersDoubledutch Games

Day Twelve — Continuing the theme of independent platformer titles, I present you with this: an early access racing game!

Speedrunners is basically Mario Kart, but in the form of a 2D platformer. What makes this particular title unique is its heavy reliance on Megaman or Metroid-esque platforming skills. Wall-jumps and grappling hooks, oh my!

Your goal, as a hero or villain, is to race against up to 3 others and be the first to win 3 rounds. When another racer falls too far behind the pack and touches the edge of the screen, that’s it for them. They lose that round. After the first racer has fallen by the wayside, the screen will shrink steadily until only one player remains. Once you’ve won, you’re kicked back to the lobby and can choose a new level. Fairly simple.

Memorization of levels is a huge issue issue for would-be Speedrunners; if you don’t know a level, you lose. That simple. Also, having a solid internet connection is going to help you, as the game is mainly multiplayer.

If you’re interested in honing or testing your platforming skills, check Speedrunners out. Don’t be surprised if you can’t buy a win though. Competition is fierce.

Rob’s Gameplay tip: Learn the grappling hook, and learn it fast. It’s the only way you’ll keep up in 80% of the levels.

Score: 3/5

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NidhoggMesshof

Day Thirteen — Lee requested that I review Nidhogg for “The Steam Days” way back, so now it’s time to deliver.

Messhof’s beautifully retro-themed gem has you locked in battle with a single opponent, in which the victor sacrifices himself to the mythical Nidhogg. This is accomplished by rushing to the far side of multiple screens, killing your opponent when they’re in your way. Of course, it’s more complicated than that but once you reach the final screen, you’ve won.

The fencing aspect of Nidhogg is the most interesting. There are 3 stances; high, mid, and low. Each stance leaves you open to an attack from the others. Switching your stance while an attack is incoming allows you to disarm your opponent if timed correctly. It’s one hit kills, with the sword. You leave your fencing stance when running, jumping, or rolling. Rolling and jumping allow you to attack from a very high angle with a jumping dive kick, or a rolling sweep kick. Downed enemies can have their necks snapped.

Best enjoyed locally with a friend (or enemy), Nidhogg just falls short of the coveted “5/5” score. It is a wonderful game that I highly recommend.

Rob’s Gameplay tip: While it is fun to fence with an opponent, it is dangerous too! Simply run past them if you can, as your top priority should be getting to the Nidhogg.

Score: 4/5

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Risk of RainChucklefish Games

Day Fourteen — If Serious Sam, Dark Souls, and Raiden had a 2D pixel-art bullet hell shooter baby it would look like Risk of Rain.

You’ve crash landed on a strange planet, and your goal is to survive while finding a way home. You must explore the beautiful 2D environments while enemies spawn around you, looking for a teleporter. Once found and activated, a boss will spawn, and you must survive 90 seconds while battling it and anything else that gets in your way.

Risk of Rain is one of the most beautiful games I’ve seen in the pixel-art style. It’s also one of the most challenging games I’ve played. There is a timer that controls the level of difficulty in the game; for every 5 minutes in-game, the difficulty will raise. The difficulty also seems to raise based on your character’s level. This results in stronger enemies, etc. Luckily, you can find items to power you up and give you a fighting chance. Everything from passive recovery to single-use to increased damage items.

200 words is far too few for me to illustrate just how awesome and challenging this game is. Please check it out and continue to support genius like this.

Rob’s Gameplay tip: Speed can be both your best friend and worst enemy. Balance levelling up, finding/buying items, and getting to the teleporter as quickly as possible!

Score: 5/5

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That’s it for this week!