While researching Magic the Gathering (I had heard it was a fun play), I came across something else that piqued my interest: an extinct game by the name of Android: Netrunner.
At the Brain-dead hour of 4 am, the fast-paced commentary on the Netrunner U.S. Nationals 2019 The Cut was a pleasant listen. From what I’ve gathered on a brain full of sleep soup (probably better known as melatonin), I’ve gathered that it’s a combination of Magic the Gathering and Poker.
The game runs as follows: You and another player oppose eachother; one plays a corporation, and the other plays a hacker. Each team has to get 7 “agenda points”. Hackers gain them from taking the cards from the corporation, and the corporation from completing agenda card requirements.
Entertaining, or at the very least, compelling!
This game involves Resource management, and much like our own monetary system, there is some complexity. The game involves 6 kinds of tokens, most of which are double-sided to signify different things.
The Artwork is lovely as well!
For those who want a true cyberpunk experience, this is the game for you.
Since it was cancelled in 2017, there’s no chance of getting new cards, but there is an online deckbuilder/play site here.
Robotech: The Macross Saga HD Edition was released on the Nintendo Switch on March 4th. It’s a remaster of the original Game Boy Advance side-scrolling shoot em up game that came out in 2002. The game is based on the anime, Robotech, from the 1980s. The original game was developed by Lucky Chicken Games and published by TDK Mediactive, both of which are now defunct. The remake was released by the California-based indie developer Galaxy Pest Control, founded in 2010. Many of the people at GPC who worked on the remaster were also a part of the team that made the original Game Boy Advance version, so the game mostly stays true to its origins. The remaster mostly focuses on enhanced assets, models, and audio.
Blast from the Past
Robotech: The Macross Saga takes the player through the events of the first season of the Robotech anime. You play as one of the characters from the show while piloting a Veritech fighter. Veritech fighters are unique mech units that can transform into three different modes. You can switch between all three modes in the game. Fighter mode is like a military aircraft, Battloid mode is like a huge robot suit, and Guardian mode is like a mix between both. There are also special missions where you play as a Destroid. Destroids are essentially walking tanks that cause major damage to the enemy. The game features five playable characters from the show to start and you can unlock an additional five more characters by playing the game.
A Major Update
While most of the gameplay features remain the same, the game looks very different. The player and enemy models have all been enhanced to 3D. All the backgrounds have also been updated with higher resolutions. The developers also added enhanced lighting and various other effects. Beyond the graphics, the audio also received an update. The developers added soundtracks from the anime in hopes to connect players more with the story. Plus, you’ll be able to play local multiplayer on the Switch. You won’t need to use a link cable like back in the old gays with the Game Boy Advance. The game is only $9.99 USD on the Nintendo Switch store, so consider picking it up if you’re a fan of classic side-scrolling shoot em ups.
Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) was originally released on November 17th, 2017 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. It’s the sequel to the initial reboot of the Star Wars Battlefront series from 2015. Developed by DICE and published by EA, Star Wars Battlefront II has had one of the most dynamic and controversial lifetimes in video game history. Battlefront II (2017) took many of the features from Battlefront (2015) and expanded on how much farther the game could go. Deeply criticized for a variety of reasons at its launch, it’s received numerous free updates over the years that have kept many people playing to this day. The game has also just gained a fresh new wave of players since its addition to the lineup of games on EA Play. Regardless of how it was received by consumers at launch, it’s clearly generated a great deal of interest among shooter fans and Star Wars fans alike. So what went right and what went wrong with Star Wars BattleFront II?
13 Years to Build On
To appropriately judge Battlefront II (2017), let’s look at what came before it. The first Star Wars Battlefront game came out in 2004 for PC, PS2, and Xbox. It was developed by Pandemic Studios and published by LucasArts. It’s a Star Wars FPS game where you play as a common soldier in the Star Wars universe thrust into a team-battle. There are multiple classes, factions, and maps to choose from. Star Wars fans will love to play on their favorite planet with their favorite army. Shooter fans will love choosing their favorite play-styles and weapons, then jumping right into non-stop action. But the 2005 version of Battlefront II pushed the game to the next level. One of the reasons for the high level of discontent among fans at the 2017 release may have to do with the high bar set by the original Battlefront II.
An Ever-Expanding Galaxy
Incredibly, even the original Battlefront II still has a player base to this day. How can this be? What made the original Battlefront II shine? It starts with how much content the developers made available to the player. The original Battlefront II added a story mode where you could play as a clone/storm trooper that follows the events of the movies. Starting at the battle of Geonosis, you’ll eventually fight on the Death Star and deeper into the original trilogy. The original sequel also added various other game modes that added endless replayability to the game. The game featured space battles with numerous flyable ships. The game had hunts that pitted aliens versus the traditional armies. It added hero battles where iconic characters joined the fight. It even had a galactic conquest mode where all of the game’s planets were shown on a large map and you had to systematically conquer the galaxy, one battle at a time. The original Battlefront II was loaded with content that showed how much the developers cared about improving the game through its latest release. What about Battlefront II (2017)?
The Dark Side
Let’s start with the problems because that’s how the game’s lifecycle started. Hands down, Battlefront II’s progression system upon release was the most egregious sin committed by EA. This was among the most predatory tactics ever attempted to try to extract additional money from players who already payed full price for a game. Upon release, Battlefront II featured a progression system that required the player to use an in-game currency to unlock characters and purchase loot boxes. Opening the loot boxes had the potential to unlock new abilities for units or new cosmetics. What was so egregious about this? There was the moral argument that several national governments made across the globe, claiming this game was introducing gambling to children. But beyond that, the prices for every loot box and unlock were completely out of this world. To cherry pick, Darth Vader is arguably the flagship character in Star Wars. He’s the villain in the original trilogy who comes back to save the day and he’s the hero-turned-villain in the prequels. It took roughly 40-80 hours of dedicated playtime in multiplayer to unlock him! Or, you know, you could just buy the excruciatingly overpriced in-game currency and skip that. This presents the true tragedy of Battlefront II’s release. The game intentionally locked off so much of its content in the hopes that certain players would spend high amounts of money to buy them. Meanwhile, normal players would have to grind for countless hours to unlock anything. It wasn’t just the progression system that disappointed players about the game either. Battlefront II generated plenty of excitement because it would feature a story mode that was almost always marketed as an opportunity to play as a mysterious and elite storm trooper unit clad in black. However, it’s only about three or four missions in that you change sides and end up as rebel with your mask off for the rest of the story. Much like the multiplayer’s progression system, the singleplayer story mode wasn’t accurately portrayed before launch.
The Light Side
So what did EA do right? At the very least, they saw that consumers were extremely displeased with the state of the game at launch. Battlefront II has had numerous sizable updates, which have seriously changed the way that the game is played. Loot boxes were fixed and the cost to unlock certain characters has been decreased by as much as 75%. As the Star Wars universe has expanded and evolved over the years, the game has added several new characters, weapons, and cosmetics. No one ever complains about free content updates. It’s undeniable that the game is better today than it was at release. While it mostly received reviews around 6/10 by most games journalists, it now receives very positive reviews from recent players. Beyond all the changes that have been made to the game over the years, it wasn’t all bad at launch either. The graphics are fantastic and if you’ve ever wanted to play a Star Wars shooter that looks great, you can’t find a game better than this. Star Wars Battlefront II (2017) stands along Fallen Order as one of the most visually appealing Star Wars games. Gunplay is smooth and there are plenty of vehicles, weapons, maps, and characters for you to enjoy.
While EA definitely didn’t hit the nail on the head with Battlefront II, they did produce a game that can stand out on its own. There’s a good reason that so many people are still playing. It’s very fun to play with your friends and engross yourself in the world of Star Wars. It’s still worth playing. Combat is well-done and there are many different ways to have fun. But despite the fact that loot boxes have been fixed, the progression system will never truly be fixed for me. I would have much preferred a leveling system that would award you with specific unlockable content based on time played or successful gameplay. Even with all the flair of EA’s remake, I still prefer the original Battlefront II from 2005. For me, the memorable story, the superior space battles, and the unique galactic conquest mode keep the original Battllefront II at the top spot of the Battlefront series. The internet also has plenty of mods that you can use to add to the classic experience. Should a Battlefront III ever be released, I sincerely hope that they blend some of the great qualities from the original games into the next game in the series. Each game is available on various marketplaces and I encourage you to give them a try if you’re a fan of Star Wars and shooters.
Breathedge is a new space survival adventure game that was released for PC on Steam and the Epic Games store. After a run in Steam Early Access with overwhelming positive reviews, it was fully released on February 25th. While the balancing and pacing might not be for everyone, the game has received significant praise for its graphics, story, and humor. Breathedge is the first major product developed by RedRuins Softworks, but it’s published by HypeTrain Digital. HypeTrain is the Russian team behind numerous successful indie PC games, including Police Stories and Stoneshard.
A Man and His Chicken
The actual gameplay appears to take a certain level of inspiration from Subnautica. However, Breathedge uses its storytelling to find its own place and separate it from most survival adventure games. You play as a man who wants to carry his grandfather’s ashes to a galactic funeral. But you stumble across a much deeper story than what you appear to be walking (or flying) into. You’ll find out more about your grandfather’s legacy as you fight to survive against the harsh reality of space. As you continue through the game, you’ll be presented with more and more opportunities to craft items that will prove useful to you in the game. There’s plenty of danger in the expanse of space. You’ll need to manage your oxygen levels to make sure you don’t suffocate in the void. You’ll need to avoid hazardous areas to make sure you don’t freeze or burn. You’ll even need to avoid deadly robots.
A Trip Through Space
In Breathedge, you don’t just craft small items. You can also assemble multiple vehicles. You can ride in a space car, a small rocket, or even build a large space shuttle. By creating a large space station, you can effectively build your own home that can be personalized and decorated in your own way. You’ll even manage the base’s power and oxygen levels. So many of these features seem quite reminiscent to Subnautica and even the art style looks similar. If you want to make your own comparison, you can pick it up on Steam or the Epic Games store for $24.99.
Space Otter Charlie is coming to Steam, Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch on March 18th. It’s a brand new Zero-G Puzzle Platformer with an interesting team behind it. The game was developed by Wayward Distractions and it will be published by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild. While the Seattle-based Quantum Astrophysicists Guild has only been publishing games for the past few years, the small team at Wayward Distractions have a long history of working on classic games during the glory days of PopCap. With a team that worked on classic franchises like Feeding Frenzy, Plants Vs Zombies, Bejeweled, and so many others, you can be sure that the developers have been around the block when it comes to designing a game.
Deep in Otter Space
You play as Charlie, an otter that’s leading the charge for animals who must escape from an inhospitable Earth. Inspired by other classic platformers such as Rayman and Mario, Space Otter Charlie will feel like classic platforming with a twist. He must navigate through over a dozen space-based levels where gravity will play a big role in the game’s puzzles and challenges. You’ll be jumping, floating, and rocketing throughout the game as you avoid traps and defeat enemies. The game also features numerous ways for you to become more powerful as you progress. You can craft new gear, unlock skills, and wear different space suits to fit different scenarios.
Beyond the singleplayer game, you can also play with up to 3 other friends in multiplayer. There are 2 game modes where you can either fight for food or fight in a deathmatch. Despite the relatively short list of levels, Space Otter Charlie features plenty of content for an indie 2D platformer. When you consider the unique gravity system, the series of upgrades, and the multiplayer modes, you can tell that the developers put real care into the game. There are even fun facts about otters that you can find hidden throughout the levels. If you’re a fan of side-scrolling platformers, consider giving Space Otter Charlie a try when it comes out on March 18th. It’s expected to be priced at $14.99.
Gravity Heroes was just released on Steam on February 19th, 2021. It will also be available for Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch in the near future. Gravity Heroes is a 2D platform-based shooter where players get to choose between 4 different characters. You can play solo or with up to 3 friends. The game features a story mode and a survival mode. Gravity Heroes is published by PQube Limited, the United Kingdom-based company behind numerous titles that have turned heads in the past few years.
The game takes place in the midst of a war between humans and the robotic-beings known as synthetics. The Gravity Heroes are a special task force that must fight back against the robotic menace. The player can choose between four different characters to control. The four Gravity Heroes are Abel, Magnus, Nala, and El Tostador. Abel is a jokester and technological know-it-all. Magnus is an old veteran that still has scars from his battles against the synthetics. Nala’s unequaled passion for understanding the truth behind this war make her a major danger to whoever stands in her way. El Tostador isn’t even human, he’s actually a synthetic with plenty of spirit and heart. Gravity Heroes wants the player to care about where the story is going in the campaign and they clearly use its characters to help connect the player to the story.
Flip the Gravity
Entering the ever-growing library of 2D platform-based shooters on Steam, Gravity Heroes had to differentiate itself somehow to stand out. The game does this by utilizing the “Gravity Shifter”. The player can change gravity’s direction and totally alter the course of combat. Pairing that feature with the game’s unique weapons and powerups can lead to a truly unique experience for the player. Gravity Heroes is priced at $9.99, but it’s 10% off on Steam until February 26th. Steam also offers a Free Demo, so you can give the game a try before you buy. If you want to give a brand new 2D platform-based shooter a try with your friends or even solo, consider looking into Gravity Heroes.
Derelict Void will be releasing on Steam on March 18. Its small and independent developer, Stirling Games, refers to it as a “galactic roguelike city-builder”. Derelict Void was started on Kickstarter, where it surpassed its fundraising goal. This is the team’s first game, so we’ll have to wait and see how it stands up to other base management/survival games. The team also intends to include a content creation tool in the game, adding to the potential value of the game.
The Unknown of the Void
In Derelict Void, you’ll be managing your ship’s crew as it travels through the endless void of space. You’ll need to consistently make strategic decisions in order to survive. A mysterious devastation has unfolded in the universe that you once knew and now you need to find a way to survive and extend the future of civilization. You must traverse the unending void of space to look for resources and other survivors. You’ll be taking risks and making key decisions that will play into your potential to get through each day.
A Future Community
While Derelict Void doesn’t really have a community, considering it’s not playable yet, the game will be heavily community-based once it’s released. Despite being singleplayer, the developers want to add a way for players to share their experience with others. Derelict Void will comes with an open content creation tool in the form of a website. There, every player will be able to contribute to the story and world of the game. Once your add your story there, any other player will be able to play your version of the void. It’s an interesting concept and we’ll have to wait and see what it ends up looking like after the game is released. If you’re interested in a base management game that takes place in the void of space, check out Derelict Void when it comes to Steam on March 18th.
Haven was originally released for Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Steam, and Playstation 5 on December 3rd. It was also released on the Epic Games Store, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch on February 4th. Haven is an adventure game where you play as two lovers who gave up everything to be together. While the game is designed to be played solo where you control both of the characters, you can also play in local co-op with a partner. Haven stands out when it weaves together its beautiful writing and its intricate gameplay mechanics. There are few games that represent a similar experience.
A Story of Love
You play as Yu and Kay, two lovers that escaped to a faraway planet so that they can be together. During gameplay, you’ll control both characters at the same time. This keeps gameplay interesting during both combat situations and when you control the dialogue. Speaking of dialogue, a huge part of Haven is watching the growth of Yu and Kay’s relationship unfold. They have to sacrifice a great deal if they want to stay together. As the game progresses, you’ll experience the pair’s highs and lows. You’ll be there when they’re quarrelling and you’ll be there when they lean on each other to get through the hardest of times.
Through Thick and Thin
The art in Haven is another big draw for the game. Hand drawn models will appear during dialogue and the rest of the game displays 3D models. The alien planet that our couple finds themselves on is populated by various alien species of plants and creatures. Some aliens are friendly and some aren’t. There are also plenty of other features that keep the player interested in the world of Haven. You can explore the exciting planet, build up your home, cook meals, collect resources, and craft with those resources to survive. Beyond the visual art, Haven also features an original soundtrack from the acclaimed electro musician DANGER. Consider looking into Haven if you want to experience a brand new romantic RPG space adventure.
Yupitergrad was just released on January 28th for the Oculus Quest. It was originally released for the PC on August 27th of 2020 and it will also be released for PSVR in 2021. Yupitergrad was developed by the Polish game studio, Gamedust. They are a relatively new studio that is focusing on cutting edge gaming technology such as virtual reality. Yupitergrad has been described as a “Tarzan-style-platformer'”. This is because the player must use suction cups that shoot from their hands to navigate the game’s levels. This mechanic is especially interesting to see in virtual reality.
Leave the Motherland
In Yupitergrad, you play as a Slavic cosmonaut. The game is set on a base off the atmosphere of Jupiter. You’ll be navigating throughout the station and into space as you move through the game’s story. As a VR game, it can be especially thrilling to use grappling hooks and boosters to fly around over 50 different levels in the game. Plus, Yupitergrad’s stylized art style plays into the experience that the game tries to draw you into. It also features an original soundtrack that adds to the cosmonaut experience.
Shoot Towards the Future
Despite the game’s initial release having occurred last August, there have been free updates that have added some content and polished certain features. The controls have been improved, new levels have been added, and a time attack mode has been implemented into the game. As the game is being released on different platforms, it’s also still being worked on and made better. The game is only $14.99, so it’s one of the more affordable VR games. If you’re interested in a VR platformer with a whacky theme at its core, consider giving Yupitergrad a try.
Dyson Sphere Program is a simulation strategy game where you are tasked with building an intergalactic factory system. The game was released to Steam Early Access on January 21st. The 5-person team of developers, Youthcat Studio, anticipate that they will continue to work on the game for about a year before it receives its full release. Gameplay currently consists of collecting energy and resources, then designing complicated production lines. Eventually, you’ll turn a relatively small workshop into a galaxy-wide industrial empire.
A Vast and Unique Universe
If you haven’t already heard of it, a Dyson Sphere is an incredible theoretical megastructure that orbits around a star and harnesses its energy. This would let an intergalactic civilization survive across multiple planets. A Dyson Sphere is just one of many late-game goals for a player once they get their industrial empire going. The game starts the player off on a planet with a mecha (a controllable robot) where you need to harvest resources and use them to start your factory. As your facilities grow, you can expand further into the procedurally generated universe and fully exploit the galaxy’s resources.
The Sky is Limit
The ultimate plans for Dyson Sphere Program are very ambitious. The developers plan to add a great deal of content into the game at some point. They claim that there are already hundreds of hours of content in the game with much more to come. There are plans to add more customization options for buildings and mechas, more types of structures to build, more types of planets and celestial bodies to discover, more cosmic events to unfold, more music and sounds, and even alien monsters to defend against. Although the graphics look great, there is still a lot of polish needed before the game is complete. There’s also still plenty of room for improvement in translating the game to English. But, all in all, Dyson Sphere Program shows promise as a simulation strategy game in space. If you’re interested, it’s currently on sale on Steam until January 27th.