155 people found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
14.9 hrs on record
Posted: December 3, 2013
XCOM, Dungeons of Dredmor, and to a lesser degree Hack, Slash, Loot
High level of strategy in gameplay Missions require a careful monitoring of line of sight and placement, even choosing which mission types to take on can affect the player’s success Humor is quirky and tongue-in-cheek, but always amusing All the typical fun RPG tropes are here! Hacking, converting an enemy, and stealth Also some uncommon ones like turrets A plethora of different starting bot types to suit all gaming-types Assault (goes in first), Siege (carries the big guns), Ninja (Silent, but deadly), Science (hacking specialist), and many more The bots have a variety of imaginative weapon types that drastically change gameplay strategy when switching them A large amount of loot that can dramatically impact the outcome of mission, so proper inventory management and planning is key (but thankfully quite fun!) Within the inventory management system is a power balancing mechanic that limits the amount of powerful tech that the player can have equipped on each bot, which adds another wonderful layer to the strategy There are fun “rogue-lite” elements of random chance events that can change the outcome of a mission (a positive… honest!) For example, when hacking an unknown terminal and watching it explode and take out my bot in a brilliant display of fire sprites Another “rogue-lite” addition of random procedural maps, enemy types, enemy placement, and traps Knowing which equipment to use is made easier by the easy to read comparison stat screen at the bottom of the inventory (similar system to a diablo-like) A pretty awesomely cheesy song starts during the menu screen that shouldn’t be missed Any options that I felt the game should have after playing it for awhile, were surprisingly available in the extensive options screen For example, the option to navigate the game with a “grab and move” mouse function A Gamer’s Glance at my favorite gameplay moment: Being chased by a suicidal “bomb-bot” and knowing it would take my exo out if it continued its advance, but then realizing that I had enemy conversion points left and ending up sending it back to its friends armed and ready to go!
Tutorial could have been much more extensive For example, using and understanding the inventory screen took a lot of trial and error (NOTE: this has been improved greatly by the implementation of patch 1.005) Not knowing that the player can blow up friendly terminals was an issue at first, because I favored the Siege class Hovering over an enemy will show the player how much damage will be done with the equipped weapon While some of these may be a “RPG” fan give-in, going through each of the numerous fun mechanics of the game at the front end would have sold me on the game that much faster Certain mission music is repetitive and grating, but thankfully changes its “tune” after a short time The voice over work (while well done) on the tutorial and mission end screens seems unnecessary Jokes are hit and miss, though luckily hit more times than miss There are repetitive canned voice over lines from the bots during battle Heard “Why was I programmed to feel pain!” more times than it was funny Difficult to tell visually when stealth is active, which can lead to some trouble when playing on mute Would have loved to have seen some variation in the environments, which understandably would be difficult given the setting Just would have been nice to see some color and “life” to the tilesets Maybe throw in some secret areas that could be found by blowing up a wall (there are enough explosions that the chance of finding one would be relatively frequent, yet surprising) Can you play it while the children are awake?:
Absolutely. The game is quite tame and all battles take place between robots. The strategy element is quite advanced though, so little Jimmy might not get the most enjoyment out of the game playing by himself.
Did I make time to complete it?:
I played for 15 hours and found it very enjoyable throughout. The game has so many layers that I never found myself bored. Highly recommended to the rogue-like and XCOM-like crowd!
72 people found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
54.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 3, 2014
I thought I'd put up a review for this really underappreciated little game.
Developer Arcen Games makes wildly creative, deep, and eccentric genre-benders, the most celebrated of which is their asymmetrical space RTS/4x/tower defense, "AI Wars." AI Wars is clearly a great game, but somehow it's this one that I keep coming back to.
Bionic Dues is Arcen's take on a "roguelike," but of course in proper Arcen style it is totally unique.
Basically, it has a lot in common with a proper roguelike: you guide your characters through a series of procedurally generated dungeons. But there are a *lot* of interesting twists:
- You have 4 characters, (which are actually some sort of mecha exoskeleton?) in any combination of "classes," but can only use one at a time, and it takes a turn to swap them out.
- Loot and inventory customizaton is of primary importance. Each bot has *tons* of inventory slots, in several categories, and each class is different. Carefully poring over the hundreds of components you find, and optimizing their arrangement on each robot chassis, balancing your overall strategy, is the part of the game that I find utterly addictive. (It feels a lot like ship design in Gratuitous Space Battles, another of my favorites.)
- There is a sort of top-level strategy layer linking the dungeons. In between runs, you re-arrange robot parts, and choose your next raid target based on likely risk/rewards and your overall position in the map, with a global counter ticking down to a final level full of particularly nasty enemies.
- Understanding enemy AI and abilties is really important. There are a lot of enemy bot types, with simply-defined behaviors that are nevertheless complex in their interactions, and they appear in randomized combinations that can really change the way you approch a given dungeon.
- The game can be played with a number of different difficulty options, and core gameplay modifiers like the addition of permadeath, ironman mode, and time-limits on turns. This really allows you to tweak the game to your liking; you can choose to allow save-scumming, seeking the perfect run, or you can make it a much more tense and chaotic affair.
One thing that needs mentioning: a lot of the art assets are just awful-looking, especially on the strategy and inventory-management screens. To enjoy the game, you will have to be able to get over this, and see the item illustrations as purely functional conveyors of data. This works fine for me, but I'm sure it turns a lot of people off. Thankfully, I think the dungeon art is pretty nice-looking.
Frankly, I also found the music and voices to be awful (though a lot of the sound design itself is pretty nice,) and I tend just turn it off and listen to my own music.
Despite all the ugly warts, I keep coming back to this one. If you like procedural turn-based dungeon crawling, and find yourself spending a lot of enjoyable time comparing stuff on inventory screens, this might be a good one for you.
I also like that it lends itself well to short play sessions; you can pop in for a quick dungeon or a bit of stat-crunching without feeling too committed. It's also a good game to have running in the background while you're doing something else, taking a turn now and then.
All in all, this is a deep little game that's well worth its price tag - at the time of this writing, it's available at the ridiculous sale price of $1.99, and no roguelike fan should miss it.
22 people found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
271.4 hrs on record
Posted: June 12
It is an interesting game, especially when on sale, there's a lot of playtime for your money. But you have to enjoy tactics and tinkering with abilities. If you are looking for high polish and story-driven adventures, this is not for you.
That being said, the higher difficuilties are just frustrating and the achievements like winning with a single bot will only please a glutton for punishment. Totally ridiculous. In addition, the developers tried to be funny smarta$$es with their quips. Maybe focus on better balancing and a little more depth next time. This game could have been really good instead of "good enough when on sale".
Saving a the city from a robot invasion gotta be fun, right? Well it is! Especially if the robots are riddled with bugs for you to exploit at your own leisure.
The result is a very fun rogue-lite with a unique twist that got even better after the recent (and free!) 1.1 update, which radically improved balance, upped the challenge level significantly and threw in a bunch of optional conducts to make your experience even more !!fun!! by emphasizing the rogue-like aspect of the game (Permadeath anybody?).
Feeling superior 'cause you are able to find a solution to any hairy situation given the time even on Expert or the aptly named Misery difficulty? Enabling "On Your Toes" will turn your game upside down. Who said the bots will always be waiting for you to do something ; )?
The only gripe I have with the game at this point is the customization of your mechs (called Exos), which can consume significant time especially in the late-game. Lovely if you are into min-maxing your stats for growing periods of time, a little too much work if you just want to be off on your next mission.
Wonderful unique turn based and creative game, fun and addictive. If you like turn based strategy games you will love this. The game is finish able even on the first try. The ability to save whenever you wish is a big plus. The interface is easy and straightforward as long as the option for mouse movement is NOT selected (If it is, then placing mines and turrets in a specific location will be a nightmare). The mission variation is fantastic and constant trying to choose which mission to do next and trying to decide when to fight the final battle adds tension to the already tense and fun dungeon crawls. There are several types of missions, and which one you choose can have a significant impact on how the game progresses. A new game starts on the city map where you choose from a web of different mission types. As you complete or fail missions, more are revealed. You win the game by either surviving the inevitable final bot onslaught, or lose when your headquarters are destroyed. There is a lot of replay ability value as your strategy will need to change depending on the lead character you select and the mech team you select. During the missions, you only control one mech (called "exos" in game) at a time, but you have four in your stable. There is a ton of generated loot you can use to improve your exos with, which you get from completing missions, find in chests, or buy from the shop. You can swap your exo for another at any time, though it will cost you an action. You lose the mission if all four exos are destroyed. There are six different exo classes, with an epic variation of each. There are also six different pilots to choose from, each with a unique ability. A solid game, that gives you a deep tactical experience.
28 people found this review helpful 2 people found this review funny
20.4 hrs on record
Posted: December 4, 2015
On first impressions when I started playing this game, I wasn't too impressed. The difficulty seemed all over the place, there were a lot of numbers and stats everywhere, and things were confusing. But, if you stay on and keep playing, you eventually start to get a hang of it. There is a bit of a learning curve here, but the game has a very nice tactical depth to it and can be loads of fun.
Upon starting a new game, you get to select your preferred pilot and 4 mechs/exosuits. Each pilot has a bonus perk of some sort, and each mech has its own strengths and weaknesses, some being more offensively based, others more to do with support stuff, like hacking and stealth. So it's up to you to pick your preferred team.
The campaign itself has a simple concept - a robot army is going to attack your HQ in 50 days. Do whatever you can to prepare yourself for this attack. Each mission you do in the city counts as a day. You can go for missions where you find shiny new gear for your mechs to make them stronger, or you can go for missions which weaken the enemy and slow their expansion. The best thing is, you can see on a side of a screen the details of what units currently comprise the enemy army, so you can see how it is affected after every mission you do.
The missions themselves take a form of a randomly-generated dungeon with tile-based movement. You can swap between your mechs at will, but doing so counts as a turn, so you have to be very careful in your advance. It is very easy to make a wrong move and to have several enemies on you at once. Both, your units and enemy units, might feel like glass cannons. You could kill an enemy in 1-2 shots, but so can they! So you have to utilise tactics to outsmart them - use range or perhaps area of effect weapons, or even just pull back and surprise them around the corner. You can even deploy sentry turrets to help you in firefights if you've got any available.
And in between missions you can customize your mechs with the loot found. The customization is very rich and detailed. Each mech has several slots where gear can fit in, ranging from weapons, to shields, to propulsion systems. It can feel overwhelming at first because there are a lot of things on the screen, but you do get used to it, and everything in the game has a description if you're unsure what something is.
Speaking of descriptions, they're fantastic. Everything has an edge of humour in it. When you hover over an enemy, an object, or anything else in-game, you see a bit of funny flavour text about it.
The music is also amazing. I first got interested in the game when I've heard its main theme, which is very beautiful with great vocals, but even the tracks that play during missions are also great.
I've been enjoying the game so far and started a new campaign already. I would highly suggest to play the first game on an Easy or Casual difficulty level to get familiar with the game. After that, the higher difficulty levels don't seem as bad anymore.
Great game. Highly recommended for fans of tactics-based games.
The big issue with Arcen Games is how all of them are missing that last level of essential polish, the pass that adds transition effects between menus or visual feedback when you click a button. The result is that all of their games feel fundamentally unfinished, like you're playing the final alpha candidate. That being the case, it's entirely up to the gameplay to redeem the title. With Starward Rogue, it's worth the hassle to experience. With Shattered Haven, it isn't. And with Bionic Dues, it really, very, aggressively is not worth struggling through.
Bionic Dues places you as the commander of a futuristic city's defenses. The robots have risen just like the Wachowskis said they would, and you're the last hope of keeping the city from being overrun. When you start a new game you choose four classes of bots to command and your commander persona, and then get dumped to the city overview. The terribly verbose popups explain the setup and your basic approach: Complete missions on the map to grow your forces and weaken theirs in preparation for the final assault on the city.
The map is a network of nodes spreading out from your HQ. Completing the mission at a node allows you access to the nodes connected to it. You have 50 days before the robots try to make jaunty hats out of your human♥♥♥♥♥ and each mission takes one day to complete. As you might expect, missions come in many different flavors, providing different challenges, objectives, and rewards. This makes it important to not only choose useful missions in terms of what resources you need, but also for what subsequent missions they unlock.
Once you click on a mission, you get launched straight into the wall that Bionic Dues shatters against. The actual gameplay is roguelike, with you moving your bot around dark, narrow hallways one grid space at a time. Enemies don't activate until they get line of sight on you, and you'll have a variety of bots and weapons on each to switch between and fight back with. It looks pretty complicated at first, but you'll soon get the hang of scooting around and picking off enemies from afar.
At that point, one of three things is going to happen. The first and most likely is that an enemy bot will end up in your face, either from being strangely well-armored or just hiding behind a door, and systematically one-shots your entire team. Mistakes in Bionic Dues are punished harshly, to the point that stepping one square too far can mean the difference between a flawless victory and total defeat. Your foes are wildly different in the threats they present, but even after memorizing which ones will end you in an instant you're still going to have moments where they pop up from behind cover or a door to ruin your run.
If the unforgiving enemies don't get you right away, you might find yourself clicking on them with empty guns. Your bots have two or three weapons each, and they're all on extremely limited ammo counts. This makes it even harder to recover from mistakes, because losing even one bot usually means losing out on ammo essential for reaching the end of the mission. You have stealth and hacking options but of course these too are under strict point limitations. The takeaway after a mere thirty minutes with Bionic Dues is that you need to be on point with your strategy and your resource management right from the gate. And yet even that won't always save you, because of the third issue with the game, heavily randomized factors like traps and consoles. Deadly traps are to be expected in any roguelike but the consoles are just awful, offering random effects in exchange for hacking points but can very easily steal all your ammo or break your weapons. Even the layout of the level works against you, because there's never any logic to guide you to the goal and the foes in your way can number in the single-digits or the high dozens.
Presumably you can mitigate some of this pain by upgrading your bots, but there's yet another wall of stats and slots and abilities to sort through for each of your mechs. As with the rest of the cobbled-together interface the upgrade screen is a mashup of overly-detailed item slots and tiny eye-straining text that tries as hard as it can to be funny in far too many words. This is a persistent problem across the entire game, the absolutely atrocious writing that turns simple status messages into a dialog between you and the world's least witty unseen adjutant. You'll find a ton of randomized gear to slot into your mechs on each mission, but sussing out what is actually going to be useful on which mech takes a lot of study and experience that Bionic Dues simply doesn't earn.
For as much as I love Starward Rogue, I hate Bionic Dues. Arcen's cluttered, garish graphics are at their worst here with indistinct mechanical shapes dropped onto grids of dark, ugly squares evocative of nothing. The sound design is inconsistent in its impact or even presence, with virtually no audio cues for important happenings like being spotted or stealth running out. These issues could be overlooked if the core gameplay is compelling, but there's far too much frustration and wasted effort to dig through to get to the actual strategy. I'm having trouble thinking of a roguelike I've had less fun with than Bionic Dues, and its only saving grace is that it was eventually succeeded by Starward Rogue.
46 people found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
143.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 11, 2013
Another gem from Arcen, highly recommended if this genre is up your alley! Bionic Dues is a turn-based strategic roguelike where you control four exos (remotely piloted mechs, basically), only one at a time but hot swappable, through a variety of missions towards a final showdown with the enemy robot force. It shines in all the right areas: intelligent randomization, loot, equipment options, a variety of different mission types, lots of different weapon types, exo specializations and commander perks, plus a bunch of achievements. Individual missions are typically pretty short (5-10 minutes tops), so it can be played in short bursts if desired. I've already sunk a ton of time into this, with much more on the horizon. It can be challenging, but good strategy will usually bring you out on top. A demo is also available at Arcen's site. http://arcengames.com/
14 people found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
170.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 25, 2014
Randomized top-down turn based "dungeon" crawler (1 turn = 1 move, like one step in cardinal direction or taking a shot, for you and your enemies). Your "party" can consist up to 4 different "members" of various "classes", but you only get to control one of your "party" members at a time, and swapping them in and out is a move on its own.
And there's also Mark XXVII Looted Epic Loot of Looting system thrown in for a good measure.
Except instead of going deeper into a fantasy dungeon, you go deeper into a sci-fi city in order to fight off crapshoot AI menace or your corporation will nuke the city, just to be sure, which means millions of lives lost as evac is, apparently, not an option (due to hand-wa... I mean, overcrowding).
The city exploration facet adds whole new dimension to the game - instead of one direction, down, you get a choice where to go next and the web of accessible missions grows as you go. Do you want to focus on particular type of loot? Make yourself stronger or enemy weaker? Or perhaps the next mission is not too great, but is located strategically and you need it to unlock path to some juicier mission in sight?
In default settings you get 50 missions/days to prepare for the ultimate showdown, each passing day meaning enemy robots grow in strength and number for assault on your base, and you are hoping to keep up, occasionally bringing them down a notch or two.
This is quite a roguelike experience, although permadeath and iron man mode, iron man mode, aren't turned on by default and who knows, maybe you want to keep it that way, at least at first, because the game is rather not easy as it is.
And it is actually a thinking man's game, if you just want to go guns-a-blazing, you're in for a bad time. It's not a top-down twitch shooter; you need to be very deliberate in your actions.
This is an interesting mix of ideas, as one should expect from Arcen Games. Has the potential to suck you in good, but also I see potential for it not hitting right notes with everybody. I, for one, certainly dig it.