A by-the-numbers System Shock/Deus Ex/Dishonored style game. I think the kids nowadays call the genre "immersive sim," which makes no ♥♥♥♥ing sense to me, but if you need that buzzword to hammer home what this is, there you go. You wander around approaching combat situations how you like, you get weird powers, you have a skill tree, you hit ♥♥♥♥ with a wrench, you listen to audio logs, but unlike the aforementioned games, there is absolutely nothing interesting about doing any of these things in Prey. For the first hour or two, you're struck with how much like System Shock it is, to the point that you may even say to yourself, "Woah, this is more of a spiritual successor than Bioshock was!" You'd be wrong.
There is absolutely ♥♥♥♥ing nothing to see in Prey that you haven't seen already in System Shock, Bioshock, or Deus Ex, and none of the things that you do in it are any fun; the guns feel like garbage, psi powers are underwhelming and lack interesting interactions or mechanics, stealth is a tactic rather than a long-term strategy, the skill tree is largely relegated to +% stat number increases, the enemies have no personality to speak of, there are extremely predictable plot twists because games like this are expected to have plot twists, there are "moral choices" regarding characters you've known for less than a minute which leads you to have zero investment no matter which choice you make, you scrounge around picking up useless garbage and playing inventory tetris in order to minmax your skill points. You get what I'm getting at.
I could go on about the specific things that are unsatisfying in Prey, but there's really no point when the entire experience is flawed. The real problem with Prey is that it's soulless. It apes much better games, albeit competently, while adding no unique style or flavor of its own. Everything about it is wholly and completely derivative of much more endearing games.
If you're going to give Bethesda money, give them money for Wolfenstein: The Old Blood or nu-Doom. If you want to play an """immersive sim""", just go play Bioshock 2 or System Shock 2. Yes, even if you've already played them before, because at least those games are still fun to play, unlike Prey, and it's not like you won't just be seeing the same ♥♥♥♥ that you did before.
Typical post-Psychonauts Double Fine game: interesting premise, executed in the most lackluster, half-♥♥♥♥♥ way possible, with plenty of weird, quirky style that does nothing to make it a better game. Like they got halfway through making it and just gave up.
I don't know why I decided to write this review out of the blue. I haven't thought about this game in years, but I saw it sitting in my library with 1.8 hours played and it just infuriated me.
It's difficult for me to pin down exactly why I dislike Nex Machina. It looks great, sounds great, and is effectively a retooled modern Robotron, but it just feels... bad.
For example, you're given a dash that provides a very brief moment of invulnerability, ostensibly for the purpose of getting yourself out of sticky situations; they even throw a number of stage hazards and boss attacks that require that you dash through them. However, the dash is imprecise, feeling as through it triggers just a split second after you've pressed the input, and oftentimes you'll dash through a laser or other stage hazard and die regardless, or dash too late and wind up walking into whatever you were trying to dash through. This kind of imprecision is enough to sink the game for me, considering its extreme difficulty on the more challenging modes.
Powerups are also dropped on death, and continuing wipes your score, which makes you wonder why you have lives or continues at all, seeing as each death makes the next life harder (in some boss fights, this can render the remainder of the fight impossible), and having your score wiped clean in a score-centric game like this renders the entire concept moot.
It's not that I don't enjoy a good shmup, or lack the skill to play them; Nex Machina simply isn't fun. If you try to play it casually, ignoring score, it's short, easy, and unsatisfying. If you try to play for score, you'll be frustrated by the ease with which you die, the imprecision of the controls, and the punishing death penalties. In both of these ways, it reminds me a lot of Sine Mora, another shmup that marketed itself as hardcore without being able to differentiate between good and poorly designed difficulty.
If you're really itching for a top-down shmup in the vein of something like Smash TV or Robotron, I recommend you take a look at Assault Android Cactus, instead.
Survivors have to activate 5 generators, an exit door, and escape, and the killer needs to knock the survivors down and hang them up on a meathook to sacrifice them to the spider queen. Because the killer sees in first-person, and has no visual aids, the game boils down to hide and seek. For a simple concept, it's pretty fun, though the community can be (and often is) downright cancerous.
Just to be perfectly clear, as many see it as a point of confusion, this isn't really comparable to Friday the 13th. Friday the 13th is more of a slasher simulator, while this is a tightly-focused competitive game that merely shares the killer-versus-survivors trappings.
Cute but shallow; the gameplay in its current state is virtually identical to the way it was at early access launch, though now it features a few (one or two?) more shallow, linear areas and a couple more slimes.
The game consists entirely of sucking up slimes, sticking them in a pen, feeding them their favored food (fruit, vegetables, or meat), and then selling their plorts. You use the money from selling their plorts to buy more pens to hold more slimes, or more areas to hold more pens to hold more slimes, and though they all behave a little bit differently, and look different, it's effectively the same exact thing every time you do it.
You can also grow the food for your slimes, but it consists of simply sticking chickens in a pen, where they automatically multiply, or a fruit into a field, where it immediately grows into a tree and spawns fruit every day.
The game very quickly becomes tedious, as none of this can be automated, so once you've gotten all your slimes penned (takes less than 30 minutes) and your food planted/penned, you could theoretically just sleep every day away, go gather all your slime food, stick it in the pen autofeeder, sell the plorts, and then sleep again. There's nothing pushing you to do more than that, and nothing to see even if you do. All the areas in the game are just big empty linear pathways where slimes hop around eating whatever they can fit into their mouths, waiting to be sucked up and stuck in a pen by you. Sometimes they turn into weird goo monsters and kill all the other slimes until they themselves die, and then more slimes just pop out of the ground, so none of it matters.
It's kind of a bummer, but whatever, it's not like there isn't Stardew Valley, Rune Factory, Story of Seasons, and two decades of Harvest Moon games to play instead. Hell, even that garbage heap Innocent Life is a better game than this.
Posted August 28, 2017. Last edited August 28, 2017.
EDIT (11/28/2017): ES2 seems far, far less buggy now, but the bugs seem to have been supplanted by balance issues. Combat is still ridiculously opaque, and their most recent changes have made it even more complicated and easier to screw up. Pirates now spawn from hostile minor civs and "pirate bases" which randomly inhabit uninhabited systems and power up over time, slowly spawning larger and larger fleets. Pirates are currently so ludicrously powerful and difficult to remove that most players recommend turning "pirate difficulty" down to easy or disabling them entirely.
Also, despite the Galactic Statecraft update making diplomacy with the AI a little less terrible, the AI still randomly demands tributes of dust from you with alarming frequency, and refusing to pay their demands inevitably leads to war. It's... very dumb.
---------Original review below---------
Just to be immediately clear, I would normally recommend this game. However, in its current state, it's virtually unplayable. I've started three separate games and had all of them brought to a grinding halt by three different bugs.
The first time, my saves simply refused to load. The game continued to run, music continued to play, and the menu continued to animate, but load game simply froze all ability to interact with any of it, forcing me to exit the game.
So, noticing that there was a more extensive tutorial, I decided in light of problems I'd had with the first playthrough that it might be prudent to go through that while I had my morning coffee. Three hours later, upon discovering the academy, the game again stopped responding to any sort of input when I'd try to view the system that housed the academy. After trying all sorts of things, including loading earlier saves, verifying my cache, and submitting a bug report on the official forums, I decided to start yet a third new game.
This time, I picked the Cravers. After languishing over menus and tech trees and thinking about what the best long-term strategy might be, I finally ended my first turn... only for the next turn to never come. I finally encountered the dreaded "infinite end turn" bug that everyone's been reporting... on my first damn turn. It's also worth noting that a hotfix was released today that was specifically supposed to address issues with ending turns, and this bug happened in that hotfixed version of the game.
As I said at the beginning of this review, normally I'd give more information about what's new or different in Endless Space 2 from Endless Space or Endless Legend, and how it all works, and whatever, but the game is so unstable that I have yet to get more than 80 turns into a game before something forces me to start a new game.
Posted May 29, 2017. Last edited November 28, 2017.
If you are way, way into the idea of playing an even more complicated version of Diablo 2, right down to limited respecs, stat distributions being permanent, and needing to level a new character if you screw your build up, then this is the game for you.
If, like me, you hate games that punish you incessantly for misallocating points (of any kind) by rendering lategame content impossible without a perfectly minmaxed build, or you're just looking for something to play between seasons of Diablo 3, steer clear.
Don't be fooled, the real enemies in this game aren't the cops, or the rival gangs, it's the god-awful controls and camera.
Good luck tagging three enemy gang members from behind, TEN TIMES EACH, when you move the exact same speed that they do, and they always get a head start on you. Or hey, grind the edge of this ramp to make a jump onto a wire that you can't see to get to the final tagging spot, and while you're trying to make that jump, they'll zoom the camera to a cop stomping his foot in frustration at having lost you, but you'll keep flying through the air, blind, and miss it EVERY ♥♥♥♥ING TIME.
If this game didn't control like garbage and leave you blind while you struggle with the ♥♥♥♥ controls, it'd be a masterpiece. Instead, it's just something to be nostalgic about for 30 minutes and then uninstall before your nostalgia is ruined forever.