PC • We’ve been pulling on the same pair of jeans for twenty five-odd years when it comes to space empire builders. The comfortable fit of a SimTex stonewash is time-tested, and its reliable density drags all and sundry towards the event horizon. As such, you wouldn’t be alone in feeling a wee twig of ennui towards the galactic overlord genre. The outliers are few, but one new tantalising project is tilting at trading the star lane traipse for something different. A little more, ahem, stately. [Dave, take note. This is how we use the word “stately”. -ed.]
PC • Bipedal cupcakes and mushrooms, spiders with knee-length socks, and rainbow-colored unicorns…sounds like a fantasy zoo straight out of the mind of Lewis Carroll or Dr. Seuss doesn’t it? These are just some of the many odd creatures that populate the fantastically bizarre, apocalyptic world of Pit People. Pit People is a strategy role-playing game that features tactical turn-based combat and a heaping portion of humor. It’s been incubating in Steam Early Access for a little over a year and is getting close to breaking free of the beta stage, so I figured now was a great time to give it a go.
PC/Mac/Linux • I still haven’t figured out how to use Steam. I mean, I play games on Steam quite a bit, but scanning the store for new arrivals and Early Access gems isn’t something I’ve acquired a skill for. As such, I have to wait until I see someone tweet or post about a Steam title before I’m aware it exists. Slay the Spire is a recent example. I’ve been playing the Early Access version for a couple days, thinking I stumbled onto something special, only to find that it’s been available for 2 months now and we’re the only damn site that hasn’t written up something about it. So, just ignore the fact that Slay the Spire isn’t a brand new release and play along.
PC/Mac/Linux • There are few games that take over my complete existence for periods of time, where nothing else in the world matters other than taking another turn. The Civilization games will do this, as will most city-builders. Another group of games that I tend to lose myself in for days or weeks at a time come from a small indie developer, Zachtronics. I instantly fell in love with them after my first foray into SpaceChem, and have loved just about everything else they’ve ever conjured up. Their latest is in Early Access on Steam right now and it’s just as good as anything they’ve ever made. If you’re looking for a puzzler that requires actual brain power, logic, and a dose of coding, look no further than Opus Magnum.
PC • Uppercut Games dropped City of Brass into Early Access last week, and after having spent a good few hours with their Arabian Nights gauntlet simulator, I’m here to give it a mighty thumbs up from the bottom of a spiked pit.
Windows • Junkers, wanderers, lurkers with dicky pistons, attention. Big Robot‘s The Signal From Tölva is just about out on Steam, and if the screenshots are anything to go by, a STALKER of conduit and coolant is about to amble over the horizon.
PC/Mac • Aristotle’s ontological legacy can be summed up in a single, irrefutable truism: Man can never have too many mech games. No such state exists. Such sagely observation continues to ring through the ages. The battlesuit-besotted have a lot to look forward to. Tetragonworks’ Phantom Brigade (which is utterly ace), Valkyria Chronicles-dated-Armored Core Dual Gear by Orbital Speed Studio (also ace), Harebrained Studios’ Battletech (should be ace) as well as a bunch of other titles like Bombdog’s Chromehounds successor, MAV and the tungsten-tough isometric magic of Stellar Jockeys’ Brigador. And so on and so on. The god of iron and autocannon continues to smile upon us, as Armored Freedom gears up for Steam Early Access.
PC/Mac • RimWorld is a colony building and survival simulation game that has everything you’d expect from the genre. You’ll act as the architect for a new colony and guide its residents to ever greater levels of survivability, self-sufficiency, and success. This includes zoning the settlement area for residential buildings, farming, and storage as well as identifying what structures should be built, how electricity should be generated, and what tools of production, furniture, and artwork should be used. There’s also the usual research function to build out a technology tree and open up new options. What’s cool about RimWorld is not that it hits these hallmarks of base-building and survival games. It certainly does. It’s not that it does it really well or better than most—though this is also true. What really makes RimWorld so good–I had to force myself to stop playing–are two things: a true open-world style and a relatively unique story-infused narrative.