DGA’s Early Access Corner (8/19/14)
Holy Early Access Batman…they just seem to keep coming! This time on “DGA’s Early Access Corner”, we’ll be featuring a few more promising up-and-comers that I’ve been gifted via their respective developers. It’s important to note that these are NOT reviews…rather, an overview as to what they currently offer.
Mini Metro – Currently on Steam’s Early Access program for $6.99, “Mini Metro” is like a cross between “Eufloria” and “Cities in Motion” (if you can wrap your head around that). It shares “Eufloria’s” zen-like ambiance, but primarily tasks you with creating subway lines from one location to another. The map starts you off small with only a few locations (which also consist of varying shapes), but as time goes by, you’ll be bombarded with new locations that you’ll need to connect to your existing lines. Passengers have a specific “shape” they’d prefer to travel to, so you’ll need to make sure that your lines are running quickly and efficiently. I highly recommend checking this little gem out, it has a lot of potential!
Galactic Civilizations III – Having spent many, many hours playing “Galactic Civilizations II”, I was really excited to get my hands on this. It’s a for 4x space strategy game for the uninitiated, but much more than that for those familiar with its inner workings. For one, you can custom design your own ships from the ground up as opposed to being restricted to certain designs. “Galactic Civilizations III” dances to a familiar tune but introduces some new gameplay mechanics (like Ideology) that fans of “Sid Meier’s Civilization V” will be familiar with (it’s similar to culture). Having played the Beta for some time (I managed to get early access), I’m pleased to report that it’s shaping up to be everything I expected and more. Still, I can’t seem to initiate manual combat…hopefully this is something the devs will introduce down the road. You can currently find it on Steam’s Early Access program for $44.99 with the final price being $49.99.
Train Fever –
I’m admittedly a big fan of both the “Railroad Tycoon” series and “Sid Meier’s Railroad Tycoon”, so it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that I was really excited when I received my press key. My experiences thus far are positive overall. It’s fairly simple to get into, despite the game not having an in-game tutorial or campaign levels with which to get you acclimated. At the time of writing (three weeks from launch in September), all that is available is a sandbox mode that lets you choose the seed, map size, and difficulty. That alone, I feel, offers a lot in terms of replay value.
The biggest obstacle I faced was laying railroad track as it didn’t seem to snap to the landscape. Rather, you can tell the track to go up or down. This resulted in some very ugly valleys and hills being created, though this is a minor complaint. I spent most of my time simply watching the vehicles (yes, you can build wagons and road depots) deliver goods based on the lines I set for them. There are no AI competitors, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on what kind of experience you want. I also didn’t seem to be able to specify cargo pickup/drop-off ques like I could in “Sid Meier’s Railroads”…that is, pick up raw goods at point A and hold them until they got to point C. I simply had to hope that the game knew what I wanted it to do when creating lines with more than two stops.
“Train Fever” is a little pricey compared to some of the other indie games out on the market, but it scratches that “Railroad Tycoon” itch nicely. Some more gameplay options and more versatility when laying track and creating lines, I feel, would add to the game’s current value. As it stands, I think the game could be reduced in price based on the content it offers…though I reserve the right to hold judgement on any of the above until the game gets out of the development stage and officially launches. If forced to simply say “yay” or “nay”, I’d lean more toward picking it up as opposed to letting it pass by. If money is tight at the moment, I’d recommend waiting for a sale and then picking it up.
You can pre-order the game on Steam now, though you won’t be able to play it until launch on September 3, 2014. The actual retail price there is listed as $34.99, though it’s currently 10% off.