Posted: January 23
I first played this game in Early Access, and discarded it pretty quickly. The balance was off, it felt too restrictive, and didn't really offer me anything fun. I ditched it fast.
But I've just installed the release version, and now I'm suitably impressed.
The game operates on the idea that each door you open represents a "turn", a turn where heroes are healed, resources gained, technology researched, and cooldowns ticked. During that turn you might fight monsters, open chests, find merchants, stuff like that. Your main ways of influencing the game aren't to physically control the characters while they fight, it's to position the characters in rooms such that they do the most damage. Or pop their abilities at the right time, swap their equipment, or change which rooms have electricity going to them (and consequently, have light/defenses/resource collection).
Unlike normal RPGs - there is no gold and no experience points. There are four resources; food, industry, science, and dust. You level your heroes up with food, build turrets/resource gatherers with industry, research new technology with science, and power rooms with dust. Each of these resources is crucial in it's own way, and the management of those resources defines if you win or not.
Because there's no gold or XP, this game really feels different. The incentive structure is completely unique; you don't want to fight enemies, you need to open doors. But opening doors might get too dangerous once you get near the end of a floor, and it might be better to skip it and run. You might spend food on levelling up, or healing your people. There's no global currency, merchants accept a random resource as currency in trade, and each resource gets used every floor, so you never hoard anything.
The coop is fun, but it also really needs fixes. You cannot save coop games, so you have to be prepared to stick it out for the 2+ hours required to play a round - or abandon the game. Players cannot share items between them (but they can share resources), they need to sell items at the merchant and have the other player buy it - at a loss. Random crashes and freezes during level load completely take down a lobby (which means you need to start an entirely new game, see the "no saving" above). And there is no character sharing. So if your friend's only character dies, and you're left alone with two characters, you can't share it with him. You might as well start over, or wait until a new character appears in a floor. Characters that aren't controlled by you don't get unlocked in your game. So if your friend took a character you haven't unlocked, and plays the game until that character is unlocked for him, you won't get the unlock. *You* have to play the character (probably in singleplayer) to unlock them.
Overall the bugs aren't too noticeable. And it's a neat game that took all the usual formulaic elements of a game and twisted them slightly to make a totally new sort of game, without getting too abstract or weird about it.