Game NotesIn a year where $50 and $60 games have been almost uniformly disappointing, the terrific surprises in the under $20 category continue this week.
First off, releasing today, is Space Pirates and Zombies (S.P.A.Z.), a game that has generated tremendously positive buzz in the last few months. Brian Rubin of Space Game Junkie recently previewed the 1.0 build, and here's a summary description:
..SPAZ is a top-down, real-time action-adventure game set in a randomly-generated universe with up to hundreds of star systems, most with two factions, Civilians and the militaristic UTC. Gameplay is much like Star Control, in which you control one of your ships from a top-down view, although this time your mouse controls the rotation of your ship while the keyboard controls thrust and strafing. You also have a mothership from which to build new ships and repair current ones. Destroying ships nets you two of three of SPAZ’s resources, Data (experience points) and Goons (crewmembers), both of which are very important, while destroying asteroids and crates gets you Rez (currency). One must keep all of these flowing in order to maintain a well-functioning fleet.
Rez allows you the opportunity to build ships and buy items off the black market from space stations. Goons crew your ships, fight off boarders and help with repairs. Data helps you gain experience and blueprints for other ships. Whenever you level up with enough data, you are granted research points to spend however you like in things like shields, engines and so on. Each system has many missions that also reward you with these resources, as well as tip the scales of power toward one faction or the other (as well as their demeanor toward you). The game also has an over-reaching plot that you can follow or ignore at your leisure. This is a game that has depth and longevity along with its action-based gameplay, as well as quite a bit of humor.
Win, win, and win, as far as I'm concerned. It's $14.99 and available on Steam (also available through other digital distributors) .
Tomorrow (if you haven't already purchased it for the 360) is Bastion, now available for the PC as well. It's also $14.99, and it's entirely wonderful. Seriously, if you didn't pick this up when the 360 version was released, it's a must-have for the PC.
Also being released tomorrow for the PC is From Dust, Eric Chahi's god-sandbox game that received generally solid reviews when it was released for the 360 recently. Actually, many of the criticisms of the 360 version involved the control scheme using a gamepad, and hopefully, those issues are remedied with the mouse/keyboard control combo.
I'd like to tell you exactly how Ubisoft's bullshit DRM will operate with From Dust, but I don't know yet. Allegedly, there's just a one-time online activation.
We're not done yet.
Not quite yet released, but coming soon, is Rock Of Ages, and if Monty Python made a video game, it would surely be something like this. It's entirely wacky, looks like excellent fun, and it's releasing on August 31 for PC for only $8.99.
I saw a lovely preview video last week for the upcoming To The Moon, and it looks entirely arresting-- poignant, wistful, and quite unique. Seriously, watch the trailer--I can't remember the last time I saw a preview video that raised so many interesting questions.
It also features music by Laura Shigihara, which justifies the purchase price immediately.
One more, and it's an RPS link to a 17-minute video of A Valley Without Wind. I'm still not totally sold on the change to the 2D perspective, but this seems like a big idea game, and those games are always worth investigating. Plus, Chris Park one of those guys that's going to hit very big, and soon--he's just too good not to succeed.