Planet Explorers

Planet Explorers is an open world sandbox game set on another planet. You have a cool backpack and also a jetpack to fly around in. It also uses what the devs call a “new OpenCL calculated voxel system” which basically means that you can build stuff like in Minecraft only more complex, less blocky things. Do you like sandbox games? More specifically, do you like Minecraft? If you like the idea of open world exploration, mining and gathering resources for survival, and then building stuff, well then this could be the game for you.

There are a few huge things that set Planet Explorers apart from Minecraft. Obviously the graphics are different. There are a few aspects that look really nice, like some grass and the water and generally the color palette and art style are all very good. When you look close though the textures aren’t so good and neither are most of the models (trees, etc). But for what it is, it looks pretty damn good. You can also build a lot more than you can in Minecraft, mostly in the way of ships and whatnot. And Planet Explorers makes it pretty easy to build ships. If for some reason you thought the stupid Trade Federation barricade ships looked cool in Star Wars Episode 1 you could build those ships, like this guy.

WE MUST BOW TO THEIR WISHES

Anyways, the gameplay is basically what you would expect from a sandbox game on another planet. You can dig, and dig, and then do some more digging, and then after you do that you can dig some more. Then you run around a lot looking for stuff, and then when you find some stuff you can build yourself a helicopter to fly around to find some stuff. The sense of exploration is great though due to the art style.  Combat is pretty basic and mostly just consists of running around punching things. But this is all pretty standard for a sandbox game. It is in early release game but Planet Explorers is pretty far along for an alpha. It’s not exactly polished but there is enough there to mess around with and have a good time. Supposedly there are serious memory leaks that become game breaking if your character lives for too long, which is basically the worst possible scenario. Early access everyone!

C3PO gets lost storming away from a fight with R2

Planet Explorers is currently 40% off and $14.99. This is a pretty decent deal but the game has consistently gone on sale for the exact same price every few months. It will surely go on sale for this price again so if you have reservations about buying a game in this state, you can feel good about waiting. If you love sandbox games though, there is enough here to keep you entertained for a while, and thus far the devs have been good about updating. Verdict: Buy it.

StarForge

StarForge is an Early Access Game that also got Indie Go Go’d. They got like $150,000 off the campaign and everybody quit their jobs to work on the game. It’s the dream! Of course, according to forum posts and reviews as well as online petitions for refunds, this game is a pipe dream at best and a nightmare at worst. What’s the deal with these early access game/crowdfunding scandals? I think with StarForge, there’s not so much a scam going on but a game that was perhaps too ambitious to be completed.

StarForge has been in development for a few years now and it’s officially in Beta. It is a sandbox style world building planet exploration game. Apparently there was supposed to be space exploration but that’s probably never going to happen. Gameplay consists mostly of exploring a procedurally generated world and shooting zerg, and also building a house. You can also dig. That’s about it. It’s kind of like Minecraft on a strange planet. Most of the servers are dead, or there are only 3-4 people in them at a time. There is a single player mode as well. If this sounds like your cup of tea go ahead and check it out, but it looks like it will probably not get finished. But some people are staunch defenders of the game. There also used to be an asking price of $75 which is just silly.

This is the problem with Early Access Games. Devs don’t ever have to make good on all their promises, and progress on the game can be slow. Updates on this game have become monthly and communication from the devs has become better than it was. The problem is nobody knows what kind of game StarForge is even going to become anymore. It started as a Survival/Exploration sandbox game and then started leaning towards PvP but the community can’t decide what it wants and neither can the devs! So best case scenario it will eventually be a combination of both but who knows?

Turok 2 looks pretty good

If you don`t mind playing an unfinished sandbox game with no end in sight than go ahead and try StarForge. Otherwise you’re better off just waiting to see what happens with the game. In summary: fuck early access games. Verdict: Skip it.

Race the Sun

Race the Sun is the true sequel to the hit game Dark Souls. It is set far into the future and places you in the shoes of the brave knight Solaire of Astora. Solaire has long been praising said sun but apparently he decided now is the time to finally try and catch it, which is why he got this spaceship in the first place. At least this is as much information as I could possibly gather because in true Dark Souls fashion the story is more about picking up clues from the environment rather than having it shoved into your face by cutscenes.

The game is one of those endless runner-type games. I’m not sure what the genre is called exactly. So your only true opponent is your own reflexes and flight skills. That and a bunch of polygonal shapes that threaten to fall on you, or worse, stand completely stationary in your way and then you fly into it but it wasn’t anyone’s fault except for your own and you really can’t blame this inanimate object but it’s much easier to do that than it is your own incompetence but in the end it doesn’t really matter because you’re just going to try it again anyways. So yeah, it’s kind of like that.

Race the Sun is also procedurally generated so you can fly your ship in any direction and the world will build itself around your flight path. This is good and bad because luck is now involved. And unless you are Han Solo sooner or later flying your spaceship around a bunch of spiky triangles is going to get you killed. Repeatedly.

race the sun
Return to Anor Londo as Solaire Himself!

Although the graphics have inexplicably taken a few steps back from the original Dark Souls, Race the Sun still has its own simplistic charms. The gameplay is familiar but it is finely honed, much like a blade pounded out by Andre. The game is currently 66% off and $3.39. It might not cause you to lapse into a marathon gaming session but it will force you to play and replay it many times. Verdict: Buy it.

Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast

In Jedi Knight II you play as Kyle Katarn, a Jedi Outcast. He is an Outcast because he is a badass, and as we all know the Jedi don’t like badasses because anything cool is actually equated to the dark side of the Force. That’s why Han Solo wasn’t a Jedi, not because of midichlorians. He was simply too cool. Luckily in this game you get to have the best of both worlds.

Kyle Katarn has grey hair now, and though he is a grizzled veteran he still has to learn all of his Force powers. Thus, the first good chunk of the game is played with mostly guns. It’s the Quake III engine and without the force powers or the lightsaber it plays like an old school FPS. I guess it’s pretty old. Most of the guns are pretty bad. The stormtrooper rifle shoots lasers everywhere except for where the crosshair is. This makes for a surprisingly difficult experience.

The game gets great when the lightsaber and the Force powers make an appearance. Also Billy Dee Williams. You really feel like a total badass Jedi in this game. A Jedi that can take down anyone. And you pretty much do. Force pushing people off of ledges never gets old, nor does choking someone out with Force grip and then throwing them off a cliff. But it’s really all about taking people down in whatever way is the most entertaining.

Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is currently on sale at 66% off for $3.39. It is totally worth it. You get to run around at super speed and have lightsaber battles. And what else do you need? Verdict: Buy it.

Eador: Masters of the Broken World

Eador: Masters of the Broken World Free Content Update takes place on a world that has been shattered. Broken, if you will. More specifically it takes place on a lot of different broken worlds. That’s the gimmick. And the universe with all of it’s floating islands looks pretty cool. The game itself is like a mixture of Civilization and Total War with a heaping helping of Heroes of Might and Magic.

The creatures that make up your armies are pretty awesome/cheesy just like HOMM. There are many headed hydras and griffins and if you ever wanted to attack someone with a unicorn, now you can. There are also random events that occur and the game keeps track of how you react to them…as a demigod, you can either be a jerk or a nice person and apparently there are 12 different endings you get based on these outcomes.

Explain that, Core-Accretion Theory of Planet Formation!

Basically each floating planet has it’s own semi-unique terrain and land for you to conquer. On the outside it looks like your standard 4x game and then once you get inside it shifts to the Total War/HOMM hybrid. In case you’re wondering, the enemy pictured is in fact indifferent. Which means he’s ripe for the destruction that you crave. You are an angry god, and it is the indifferent people who have angered you, like this joker over here. There is only one way to make yourself noticed, and that is complete and total destruction. That and a plague of locusts/the death of everyone’s firstborn son. Either way. Send the unicorn army! The nonbelievers will perish!

Eador: Masters of the Broken World is currently on sale for $4.99 at 75% off. The devs are still updating the game and it is apparently far less buggy than it was upon release. Also, according to the most recent update notes, there is now an angry tree man available.

Anyways, if HOMM In Space is your thing get into it. Verdict: Buy it.

Beat Hazard

Beat Hazard is called a hazard because it might literally give you a seizure. It even says so. It can also be hazardous if your music sucks, because then it won’t be any fun to play. It’s your standard Bullet Hell/Shoot ’em up arcade style game with the added value of the actions onscreen happening at the beat of your music. More or less. Video is probably the easiest way to describe it.


You get the idea. You can also level your ship up with perks and whatnot, but the interesting part about this game is the incorporation of your own music. This isn’t a new concept by any means but it’s executed well enough here to make it interesting. Do you like visualizers and/or recreational homeopathic medicine? Well you will probably enjoy the this game. It stays interesting if your music stays interesting.

The ship you control is really a metaphor for your senses and as the ship is assaulted in the game so are you too IRL. Seriously the colors will destroy your eyes and if you have it loud enough you can destroy your ears too! The Flamin Hot Cheeto dust in the air is sure to destroy your sense of smell, and the more I think about it this game might be just as physically damaging as an addiction to World of Warcraft. And that is damn impressive.

100% true actual marketing quote.

However, if music really isn’t your thing, your hard earned Steam Bux are probably going to be spent elsewhere. This game is fun to mess around with but it’s really all about the tunes. The whole thing got made by one dude in his bedroom which is always hilarious. It is currently 50% off and $4.99. If you need justification, look at it this way…how much of the music that you will listen to did you actual pay for? Verdict: Buy it.

Galactic Civilizations II

Galactic Civlizations II is a 4X game. Which is a term coined in the 90s when everyone was obsessed with changing words starting with the prefix ex- to just X. Xtreme, for instance. X games. That video game virtual reality movie that you’ve never heard of but should totally watch called eXistenZ. Well 4X is apparently a both a tasty Australian beer. And also it describes strategy games like these in which you “Xplore, Xpand, Xploit, and Xterminate.” Which really kind of explains a lot of different types of games but you have to admit, it’s pretty catchy. And it’s apt.

Did you play Civilization IV and find yourself wondering what this game would be like if Ghandi had a space jetpack? No? Do you wonder if Stalin and Montezuma would still try and screw you over even in another galaxy? No? Me neither. But somebody wondered that, and then they made this game. Only they changed Stalin and Montezuma to some strange horsefaced tentacle man. I don’t know what civ that is but I know I don’t want to be a part of it.

If you have never played a turn based strategy game before, I don’t know if this is the right place to start. It might be a little daunting. And it is. It isn’t confusing so much as there is just a lot of information and a lot of micromanaging. But that’s what makes this type of game fun. If you like 4x games, however, you will probably enjoy this one, and it’s one you could get hundreds of hours out of. There is no multiplayer, however, which is kind of a bummer.

Galactic Civilizations II is currently on sale 75% off for $4.99. So let’s decide based on whether you should purchase this game, or a Subway sandwich. I am currently looking at what the featured five dollar footlong is…and it is a Meatball Marinara. Which I simply cannot recommend. In that case, Galactic Civilizations II it is. Verdict: Buy it.