Wednesday, June 17, 2015

2 Hour Tests Round Two: Toxxik, The Long Dark, Savage Lands and Monstrum

Part II of my "micro reviews of games acquired during the Steam Summer Sale" shall now resume...

Toxxik: actually it took me all of eight minutes and one match to decide to keep this one, if only to support what the developers are trying to accomplish. The downside of Toxxik is: it's only got a few maps and it looked like maybe 30 people were on playing it. The upside is: it's got a bot mode, and my playthrough on that was really fun, in  a very old-school Unreal Tournament way but with clean and smooth modern graphics.

Anyway, Toxxik is an old-school arena shooter game inspired by Unreal. This is a genre we are short on currently.

Savage Lands: it looks insanely hard and felt insanely hard. I died once from the cold and couldn't find enough resources to bail myself out, mainly because the stuff I did have was wasted on making arrows because the vague tutorial missions left me thinking I needed them...although I didn't have a crafting pattern for a bow, so go figure. But the second guy lived and explored a lot, ultimately making his own fire, lean-to, and even the start of a resurrection totem.

I'm not 100% sure what Savage Lands is, but I do know you wake up on a island that is cold and occasionally snowy, it's got haunting ambiant outdoor noise and the graphics are a bit stuttery on my rig but still pretty and playable. There are wolves, deer, occasional shambling skeletons and way in the distance I can see some sort of wyvern nesting. I'm intrigued enough to keep going to see where it lands, but that constant risk of hypothermia and starvation is a pain in the ass.

One thing that intrigues me about Savage Lands is how it manages to be engaging even while being a painfully difficult survival experience...why, I wonder, does this game grab me while the Dark Souls games piss me off to no end?

Monstrum: like Toxxik I only needed to play Monstrum a little bit to realize this was a keeper. You wake up on a large ship, possibly an oil tanker or cargo vessel out at sea, with a note from a fellow mate explaining that you were sick and they had to leave. I my first game I wandered about and found a helicopter in need of refuelling and unchaining, when a purple lightning monster alien straight out of the X-Files showed up. I ran, I hid, he passed by....I got out, he was waiting twenty feet away, I ran, he drained me of all life. Good times.

The thing that's cool about Monstrum is apparently there are three monsters you can face, and there is a definite survival horror story component: you find a way to escape the ship. Doing that is clearly not going to be easy, but I am inclined to try.

The Long Dark: last but not least, the artsy Canadian Wilderness Survival Simulator is like wandering through a wilderness painting in winter, finding relics of old logging camps, occasional mysterious dead bodies that for whatever reason your character is not phased by, and looking for a way to survive before you (surprise) freeze to death.

It didn't look as engaging as I thought....but I'm not a fan of simple graphics. It did show that there are plans for a story mode in the future, and other areas....but the current Alpha build does not have these. Wandering around in an oil painting wilderness might feel awesome to some....but it really fell flat for me. I gave up before I even got to freeze to death or be eaten by wolves.

So, this 2-Hour Play Test Summary:

Toxxik: needs a community, but the game itself is a solid classic run-and-gun shooter. Keeping it, will buy it for my wife to play with me if nothing else.

Savage Lands: intriguing and hard, but the fantasy elements have me hooked to see what's up in this game of painfully difficult survival and crafting. Also keeping it.

Monstrum: genuine survival horror on a ship against one of three monsters. Evidence of a story and a point of escape. Cool stuff, worth keeping.

The Long Dark: it looks like it could be fascinating for the right person, but I clearly need more weirdness or action to keep me engaged, and honestly not that keen on yet another game where my game ends with me freezing to death. Pass, will revisit it in the future when it's out of Alpha build and see if the story mode is getting good reviews.

Follow up: Still playing Infestation: Survivor Stories, and enjoying it. I'm shocked!

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