Posted: February 18
Early Access Review
Review is heavily edited and long and out of the several comments posted, note that not even the developer has said that anything here is incorrect or an unreasonable expectation. Also, the store page is currently being spammed with pointless, uninformative positive "reviews" designed only to influence the game's review score, in accordance with the developer's request that this be done. See the recently unpinned and locked forum thread entitled "Concerning our mixed reviews". http://steamcommunity.com/app/224440/discussions/0/624074858818759750/?insideModal=1
I recommend reading these reviews. What you'll notice is that the overwhelming majority of them avoid telling you anything substantive about the game itself. I wonder why. You can find some real gems in the longer ones though. Stuff like "It has a well developed economy and mechanics system..." Well, you buy the game if you want to and you'll find out how well-developed these things really are.
You'll love this one: http://steamcommunity.com/id/ograstamon/recommended/224440/
Apparently it's all the community's fault and we shouldn't even make others aware of the actual state of the game - a state that he himself acknowledges is unimpressive.
Right off the bat, I didn't thumb this game down because it's not good. That isn't necessarily the case, but because of the state the game is in after two years of early access development (at least four years in total), the level of confidence this state instills in me that the end product is going to be worth the investment and it's cost. The idea is good. What exists of the game has the beginnings of being good. The level of actual progress being made and the chaotic direction it seems to be going in is disappointing and unfortunate.
So, let the text wall begin!
*** I find it very odd that for a game that's been in early access for around two years, there's no way to keep track of your citizens efficiently. Hell, there's not even an inefficient way to do it. This is bad because in Folk Tale you can control each citizen as an individual, not like, say, Banished where you only have some limited control of groups.... and even Banished gives you a very efficient way to keep track of everybody.
I get it. It's early access. The game is not finished, nevertheless, it's going on two years in early access and this one incredibly important feature is still completely absent.
*** The obsolete, buggy "Old Tutorial" has been removed. It hasn't been replaced with a proper one, just removed entirely. Not so much a problem as it is a shame that content was actually taken out of the game instead of brought up to date, giving you now LESS content for your $25 than before. And it wasn't obsolete because the game had progressed beyond it's usefulness, far from it. It was obsolete right from day one because the game was changed from the campaign-oriented model that the tutorial represented to a sandbox citybuilder.
>>EDIT - Looks like some sort of sandbox tutorial has been added in today's patch (5-3). Haven't tried it yet.<<
*** A save feature has finally been added, after close to two years. Prior to this your only option was console saving that may or not have worked. Two years it took (four if you count pre-early access development time) to get a save feature implemented into the game.
*** Terrible housing/population growth mechanic. Utterly senseless and amateur. Build a house and 5 people arrive out of nowhere.
>>EDIT - As the developer says in the comments below, this is how you grow your village. I understand this is how it works but where's the sense in it? How did these people even know I built a cottage? And who said they could come here? And how did they make it thru all the spiders? Moreover, it's like instant villagers on demand. Need more villagers? Throw up a house and "voila!" 5 more villagers appear out of thin air, almost instantly.
What it feels like is a cobbled together mechanic that I truly hope is not intended to be permanent, and herein lies one of the glaring issues with this game - Such a basic and fundamental part of the game, after almost two years, seems just tossed in there because they needed some way to get villagers and it doesn't make any sense.<< - End of edit
*** The AI is painfully stupid. A lone hunter has zero problems killing deer all day with his bow but one single spider (half the size of the deer) will kill him in a matter of seconds and he doesn't even have enough brains to try to run away from it, or even stay away from it in the 1st place. None of them do, no matter how outnumbered they may be. Dumb is one thing, but a reckless disregard for even their own lives is unacceptable. The dismally slow camera doesn't help matters much either.
>>EDIT - Due to heavy feedback this issue has largely been fixed in the last two patches. Oh, your villagers are still dumb as a bag of hammers. They'll still walk right up to a spider and slap at it while it tears their guts out but the spider nests have been moved back and the point in the game when they're scripted to spawn has been delayed. Still though, your villagers are just as absent-minded as they ever were in every aspect of their daily lives. << - End of edit
*** Day/Night cycles are so short that they may as well not even exist. Your villagers don't care anyway. They never go home. They never stop working. They never stop suiciding into packs of spiders. >>Addressed in 4-4 patch, no discernable difference.<<
*** Childish nonhumor. For example, when one of your villagers goes to the supply cart to get something to eat you're given a text notice. It says ~"So-and-so is buying rations to om nom nom". Really? I can get behind silly and comical, but "om nom nom" is neither. It's just juvenile. It's something you say to your six year old to make sitting at the supper table sound like fun.
*** The RTS element might be nice once every homeless Tom, ♥♥♥♥ and Harry on the continent stops trying to move into your village and some sort of decent way to manage your population and resources is implemented. As it is now, prepare to hear a neverending loop of this:
"Building complete", "New settlers have arrived", "Your villagers need firewood", "New Settlers have arrived", "Your villagers need food", "New settlers have arrived", "New settlers have arrived", "Building complete", "New settlers have arrived", "Your villagers are freezing", "New settlers have arrived", etc., etc., etc.
***Foresters were added without the ability to replant trees, an element equally as important as being able to cut them down, only able to strip forests before you had to build a new building somewhere else. WHAT??? Well, they added that ability on 4-4 but the forester is unable to get a single seed from the innumerable trees he's cut down. Guess who, or should I say "what", does have seeds. Spiders! That's right. Spiders are able to identify and collect seeds, I guess off the ground, but your own villagers are not.
*** All the makings of a great game are here, it's just that for going on two years in early access and a $25 price tag, there's almost nothing to show for either. If you were to play this game today, for the first time, you'd swear to God it just hit early access yesterday. I buy a lot of early access games and I have paid less and gotten more from almost every one of them in terms of both content and playability.
Until progress and direction improves over the long term I do not recommend this game.