[Game: The Sentient, Uncaged Studios, 2016]
Galactic Potential:

An Introduction to (and Cursory Assessment of) Uncaged Studios’ The Sentient

 

(The article below remains in its original state for archival purposes, but work on The Sentient was abandoned by its developers in mid-2018, before it was completed and exited early access. As such, I am now forced to recommend that no one purchase the game. – The Gemsbok)

 

The Sentient screenshot with ship overview - Uncaged Studios - early access review

Introduction:

Alright, this is going to be a relatively brief article that doesn’t go into too much detail, as the game in question, Uncaged Studios’ The Sentient, is very early in its early access career. But I wanted to write this preliminary review because I have been rather impressed by what I’ve seen so far. If I could sum it up in one sentence, I would say that The Sentient has accomplished more of the things promised by the developers of Pixel Piracy before entering early access than Pixel Piracy has managed to accomplish in the year since its full release.

As you can tell if you’ve read that earlier article linked above, I am no fan of Pixel Piracy; so why even bother with the comparison? Well, as much as I think Pixel Piracy is a clunky, buggy, superficial, bad-UI-ridden mess of a game, its premise is very strong: you take the exploration and RTS gameplay of FTL, and you add in deeper crew management and ship customization features. And this is exactly what The Sentient does, putting the player in control of a fleet of human scouting parties as they search the galaxy for the means to research, expand, and survive.

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[Game: The Sentient, Uncaged Studios, 2016]
Galactic Potential:

An Introduction to (and Cursory Assessment of) Uncaged Studios’ The Sentient

was last modified: January 2nd, 2020 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Terraria, Re-Logic, 2011]
Yes Half Measures:

5 Reasons You Should Play Terraria on Mediumcore Difficulty

 

Introduction:

Terraria screenshot with home base - Re-Logic - Mediumcore DifficultyAny players of Re-Logic’s Terraria will know that difficulty levels in the game do not merely affect the stats of enemies. A ‘softcore’ character will only drop held money on death. A ‘mediumcore’ character will drop held money as well as held and worn items on death. A ‘hardcore’ character, when it dies, just stays dead. (Terraria possesses an overabundance of difficulty-related terminology, so, just to be absolutely clear: I’m not talking about normal mode versus expert mode, and I’m not talking about pre-hardmode versus hardmode.)

These are pretty dramatic differences in consequences for each character’s demise, and as a result the vast majority of players choose softcore mode. Those looking to prove what they’ve learned, on the other hand, are likely to crank it up to hardcore immediately. My personal opinion is that both are sub-par options when seeking the best playthrough of the game.

Here is my one caveat to this difficulty advice: if you’re really just playing Terraria as an artist or an architect (i.e. you just like building things), then softcore obviously make the most sense. But if you want the most enjoyable possible RPG adventure experience, then I highly recommend mediumcore. Here’s why:

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[Game: Terraria, Re-Logic, 2011]
Yes Half Measures:

5 Reasons You Should Play Terraria on Mediumcore Difficulty

was last modified: January 2nd, 2020 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Tricone Lab, Partickhill Games, 2015]
Salubrious Cells:

The Relaxing, Fluid Feel and Fresh, Stylized Design of Partickhill Games’ Tricone Lab

 

Tricone Lab screenshot with many chambers - Partickhill Games Limited

Introduction:

A few weeks ago, your Mid-week Mission was a review of a new indie puzzle game centering on triangles. This week, your Mid-week Mission is a review of a new indie puzzle game centering on triangles. Superficial similarities and kidding aside, Tricone Lab by Partickhill Games offers a totally unique and enjoyable tour through an alternate-dimension chemistry and biology. It is a logic-based puzzle game that I enjoyed enough that I finished its suite of 100 included levels in just three sessions.

Still, with the game in early access at present—and not having scratched the surface of the community-made levels on offer—I am by no means finished fabricating Tricones as of yet. And don’t be fooled by the screenshots in this article looking grey and lifeless, by the way; the levels are in constant motion, and the constituent elements feel lively and organic when playing. It’s not all peaches and cream, as you’ll find below, but overall I want to spend this article convincing you that playing Tricone Lab is a relaxing and fun use of your time.

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[Game: Tricone Lab, Partickhill Games, 2015]
Salubrious Cells:

The Relaxing, Fluid Feel and Fresh, Stylized Design of Partickhill Games’ Tricone Lab

was last modified: January 2nd, 2020 by Daniel Podgorski

[Game: Pixel Piracy, Quadro Delta, 2015]
Swashbuckling Bored:

The Bad Design Choices, Game-breaking Bugs, and Superficial Execution of Quadro Delta’s Pixel Piracy

 

Introduction:

I have previously written, on more than one occasion, about games with simple premises or gimmicky attributes, which succeed due to the high quality of their execution. Today I would like to talk about a game with a great, interesting premise that fails due to the low quality of its actual design and execution. Pixel Piracy, a pirate-based RTS RPG with roguelike elements, is a game that was in an abysmal state at launch, but which has come a long way since then; the problem is that it has come nowhere near far enough, and does not seem likely to ever do so.

One of my biggest problems with the game is that its most grievous flaws are not apparent to the player until after a few hours in-game. In fact, Pixel Piracy is almost enjoyable, if a little repetitive, for almost half of its campaign. At that point, however, the small cracks widen into crevices, into which fall all of your hopes of ever completing the game with a positive opinion of it. I have completed the main campaign, and it was no easy task to do so (although the gameplay is easy as cake, the game’s technical problems and repetitive design made progress difficult). Now let me discourage you from doing the same.

Pixel Piracy screenshot visual effects comparison - Quadro Delta - negative review - criticism

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[Game: Pixel Piracy, Quadro Delta, 2015]
Swashbuckling Bored:

The Bad Design Choices, Game-breaking Bugs, and Superficial Execution of Quadro Delta’s Pixel Piracy

was last modified: January 2nd, 2020 by Daniel Podgorski

{Guest Post} [Game: SOUND VOLTEX III GRAVITY WARS, KONAMI, 2014]

Blasting into Arcade Rhythm Games:

My Adventures with Sound Voltex and the Church of Rasis

 

Part 1 – Arcade Rhythm Gaming and Sound Voltex Intro:

SOUND VOLTEX Rasis logo image - SOUND VOLTEX III GRAVITY WARS - SDVX - KONAMI - beginner's guideI find it hard to come to terms with my love of rhythm games from time to time. On one hand, I am drawn to the flashy lights and giant LCD screens with loud music booming from the uniquely shaped machines in the arcade. On the other hand, showing a level of play that is far below those who have been drawing the attentive eyes of the general public hinders my willingness to try something I am not as familiar with. Nonetheless, I can now say with certainty that I can truly enjoy this elusive genre with its seemingly high barrier to entry, thanks to my most recent addiction: Sound Voltex.

Before I continue, I want to give some more background to skeptics of the rhythm game genre that might label me as already part of the target demographic and therefore disregard some of my analysis as not applicable to those that are not familiar with the arcade rhythm gaming scene at all. It is true that before Voltex, I have decent experience with rhythm games in arcades such as Jubeat and Dance Dance Revolution.

However, my first impressions of Sound Voltex were just like anyone else with an aversion to the genre. “This game looks too hard for me,” “There are too many things going on; this is confusing,” “I think I’ll stick to the easy stuff I am used to:” these are the thoughts that raced through my mind while I stood awestruck as one of the spectators of the pros playing before me. Though the main reason I picked up the game was that none of my regular rhythm game fixes existed in the new arcade that opened in my area, a strong grasp of the fundamentals of rhythm games as well as a control scheme that only seems hard on the surface helped to ease me into the intricacies of Voltex, a game that has a lot more depth than what I initially made it out to have.

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{Guest Post} [Game: SOUND VOLTEX III GRAVITY WARS, KONAMI, 2014]

Blasting into Arcade Rhythm Games:

My Adventures with Sound Voltex and the Church of Rasis

was last modified: January 15th, 2020 by Kevin Su