Quick View: Poly Bridge (Steam)

Is Bridge Constructor a genre now? There seems to be a fair few of these games around and some have taken it to another level and expanded what these games can be. Especially looking at the likes of Kerbal Space Program and Besieged. But Poly Bridge seems to do the opposite and stick to the known formula.

That’s not a bad thing though and despite being in Early Access, Poly Bridge feels like a pretty complete game.

It has the usual scenarios you’d come to expect and it tasks you with simply building a bridge to allow traffic to cross. It provides you with the tools and a budget, then it is up to you to understand the physics to make travel possible.

This will depend on what wants to cross as to what you need to build; because a bicycle doesn’t need a bridge with a ton of steel girders to make it safely across, yet try and get a lorry across a simple wooden bridge and disaster will strike.

What stands out at even this early stage is how clear each of the goals is and how you can really have fun experimenting with various solutions. Early tutorials will give you a basic concept as to how the physics of it all will work, but doesn’t hold your hand to the point it stops becoming challenging.

A nice feature is the ability to save and share replays of both your successful attempts, as well as your disasters and this is a feature I really, really like and have spent as much time watching other solutions as I have creating my own.

Let me tell you something, people are bloody creative and put me to shame.

Poly Bridge is currently £8.99 on Steam in Early Access and that price point feels about right and again is a good example of how to put a game on Early Access, as it is one I don’t feel let down about owning even at this early point.

Quick View: Badland Bandits (Steam)

Vehicular combat in games has been a thing for a very long time now. Many of you may remember this being the likes of Twisted Metal, or Carmageddon and for others it may be Mario Kart and for us older ones it is Spy Hunter, Rally X, Roadblasters and the like.

The point is, they have been around for a while, but of late it seems as though there is a new thirst for them. You have games like Rocket League, Blur, the new Carmageddon, but also things such as World of Tanks. So it is time to introduce Badland Bandits, which kind of sits in the middle of these and shares more with a modern FPS than anything.

Imagine Borderlands, but stripping it down to just the vehicles and instead of having RPG type missions, you have traditional online Team Death Match style objectives instead. Do that and you have Badland Bandits.

I have spent a bit of time with the game ahead of the Early Access release (July 2015) and as it stands my views are a little mixed.

Visually it is nothing special, but it is by a small studio and it does feel like it. Now that isn’t to say it looks ugly, but it won’t sell you on looks alone. In fact I’d go as far as saying on that side it looks like Borderlands but without the pop.

What I want from a game like this though is fun in the gameplay and something that feels very competitive from the moment you get down to it and here, on the whole, Badland Bandits succeeds. Objectives are clear and simple and the combat is fast and frantic, whilst still allowing you to feel in control.

You have both ground and air combat, which allows for mixing ground to air and air to ground and it works really well. I was able to find myself destroying a ground based opponent before aiming to the skies and helping one of my team locked in an air battle.

All vehicles are completely upgradable, which works on a similar system to the likes of Battlefield and Call of Duty, whereby levelling up grants you perks, extra garage slots and access to better parts. A worry here is that balancing could become an issue down the line, but at this early stage it doesn’t seem to affect too much.

My only real major issue comes with the vehicle control itself. Aiming using the mouse is fine, but movement just feels off. I use a Logitech G13 Advanced Keyboard due to limited movement in my left hand, so I can have WASD assigned to a thumbstick input.

The problem here was that the game has full on tank controls, which means you turn using A & D accelerate using W and reverse using S, but you cannot turn and move forward at the same time, which makes general movement feel cumbersome and using the thumbstick makes this nigh on impossible to play due to slight crossovers of it reading W&A together for example.

Now I understand I may be a very small use-case for this, but it did feel frustrating, yet I will admit that when I switched to the normal keyboard, the movement was improved, however where the rest of the game comes together really well, the digital tank movement just doesn’t fit as well as analogue movement would.

I will say though, that overall it hasn’t really dampened my enjoyment of the game and hopefully upon its full release the servers will become busier and there will be fun to be had.

It is in Early Access and whilst I couldn’t say this is a vital purchase at this stage, if you are a fan of vehicular combat, it could well be worth dipping your toes in and providing feedback to the developer.

Early Access Summary

A good example of how Early Access can be used, clearly not a game that is close to completion, but has enough going for it that we look forward to a full release.

Quick View: Beyond Sol (Steam)

I have avoided space games for quite a while now. I am not sure why in all honesty, maybe because of the lack of them on console for years. But after picking up Elite Dangerous I was reminded of a time when I loved them.

So I took a chance on a game called Beyond Sol from Praxia Entertainment LLC for Steam and currently in Early Access.

Beyond Sol is an open-world empire building and combat space exploration title. Or as I like to call it… a smaller scale, top down Elite Dangerous. Whilst on the whole is it unfair to compare this to the Frontier title, it does a lot of things that Elite does but focuses it to be a lot more pick up and play and means it can also sit alongside it.

It takes a kind of pseudo 3D top down perspective, where you look over your craft and the world you inhabit and considering space is a vast nothingness in the most part, the map, which is procedurally generated, is full of life and constantly has things to do.

These include gathering resources, trading, taking contracts, dealing with pirates, fantastic combat scenarios and much more. You start off with pretty much nothing and have to build a city. before extending outwards, to the point you will find yourself in the middle of warring factions, needing to create allies and also making enemies.

It is this that drives the game forward, as every action you take will have an effect on your relationships with everyone else. Take a contract from one city and sure, your relationship grows, but you then have to deal with another faction taking action for that and depending on your current relationships, it could have severe consequences.

There is a lot of travelling between locations, especially when it comes to trading and gathering resources, but options such as warp drive mechanics make this a pretty easy going system. However there are advantages and disadvantages to how you travel, as when you are gunning it to a location at top speed, your shields are down, leaving you vulnerable to damage from many sources. Which in turn means you need to consider where you may pass whilst doing this.

Combat has a kind of MOBA feel to it, using your mouse clicks to choose where you are moving, but then using key bindings to choose weapons, tools, etc. You only move when you have thrusters on, which means combat can take place in a very small area, or continue across a much larger space.

The game is in Early Access right now, so finding games you can join can be difficult, but you can also host and allow friends to join your world and whilst I am yet to try out the multiplayer side, I am more than happy with my experience in single player.

How happy? Well I haven’t been desperate to return to Elite Dangerous since installing Beyond Sol and whilst there is work to do, the current build is yet another example of the great side of Early Access. It feels like a game that could be released at this point in time with a few minor fixes, but it is exciting to see what it ends up like for the final build.

If you have any interest in games based in space, I urge you to pick this up, even in Early Access.

Quick Views: Kyn

It is all my fault, but whenever I am presented with a new RPG type game in an isometric style, I cannot help but compare it to Diablo and especially Diablo III. I hate that I do this, but unfortunately it is a bad habit of mine I cannot shake.

It is for this reason it took me a while to actually get into Kyn, an Action Adventure RPG by Tangrin Entertainment and Versus Evil. However, that is because the game does actually have a slow opening with some control systems that take a while to fully get used to.

The setting of Viking Mythology is actually a refreshing one and makes a change from the pure fantasy and dark settings of many games of this type. In all honesty, it was this setting that got me through the early stages.

You play as multiple characters in the world and have to use them as a team, similar in a way to how Pillars of Eternity works. Except here everything feels a lot simpler after a few early missions.

The reason it does feel slow early on is the mission structure, mainly being a variety of fetch quests designed purely to ease you in, but this is also the game’s only real downfall early on. As it is so slow and long winded to let you off the reigns, it can be easy to write it off.

Yet after a couple of hours, you have controls that become second nature and the various quests on offer, both mainline and secondary, become much more varied and exciting. It is almost as though a switch has been flipped and you have a completely different game.

What does feel great is the difficulty curve and the challenge on offer as you get further into the game. At no point in my preview look did I feel as though enemies were pure cannon fodder, nor did I feel I was being deliberately over powered so I was being forced to grind. The balance seems pretty much spot on here.

The overall story is well written and the visual representation of a Viking world is wonderfully realised. You are well rewarded with loot and the puzzles that are mixed in with the action keeps things fresh. But this is a game that really encourages exploration too, especially once your hand is released from the opening missions.

This isn’t a casual game and if you struggle with these types of games, then this isn’t one to ease you in, but if you have had any experience and enjoyed the genre, this is fresh enough that is should be worth considering upon it’s 28th July release.

Quick Views: Guild Of Dungeoneering (Steam)

Welcome to a new feature on Gamestyle where we give you a short rundown on Early Access and soon to be released titles in a couple of short paragraphs, just to give you a heads up on what to keep an eye out for.

Up first is Guild of Dungeoneering, a turn-based dungeon crawler with a Deck Building mechanic.

The idea here is that you build a  deck of cards that allow you to build and travel through dungeons, battling monsters and collecting loot, with your end goal to rebuild your guild to former glories.

What I found here with my initial look at the game, was that it is very easy to understand, with a simple but effective tutorial mission to ease you into things. You get given an initial deck of cards, which contain a mix of dungeon room and paths, as well as various battle cards, that each have their own abilities to attack and defend against the various monsters you confront.

What is nice here too, is that you also draw loot cards, which you choose where to place and by collecting the loot dropped from these cards, you can then spend those rewards on improving your guild and taken on bigger and tougher enemies.

Each dungeon is technically procedurally generated as you lay down the cards to fit on a part filled map, creating special rooms which may contain extra drops, or even have nasty surprises laying in wait. This works well to make sure each run feels different and keeps things fresh on the whole.

Battles are fairly simple too, you see a choice of cards you can lay, where you work out what is best to beat your opponents card and hopefully inflict damage on them.

Guild of Dungeoneering is out on 14th July 2015 and despite being a month away from release it is looking very solid and well polished. Whilst it won’t be a mainstay game in your collection it is shaping up to be a nice side game to dip in and out of every now and again.