Last Days of Old Earth Preview

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Last Day’s of Old Earth puts you in command of the Skywatcher clan on a cold and desolate Earth in the distant future. You command your people to wage vast battles against other indigenous clans to make yours the most powerful.

I went into Last Day’s of Old Earth with certain expectations after scanning through the Steam page – this was going to be a Civilisation clone with a different art style and I would be bored to tears within minutes because, in all honesty, nothing compares to the Civilization series for me. Then the game shocked me and in no way attempted to simply be another clone. It drew reverence from the games I love and built solid ideas on top of them.

With a hex-based overworld, you’ll command armies across a randomly generated map to battle other players moving along the same grid. You build outposts and harvest resources which increase your supply reach. Supply is a key mechanic in the game and you’re forced to stay within your own territory at all times or be hampered with movement and combat penalties. This is made far easier than it sounds with armies and hero characters all being able to build wherever you feel is necessary so never truly felt like the hindrance I initially thought it to be.

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Then things get a little bit different. Your armies are made up of units you generate by drawing cards from a deck and then consuming resources to put them into play. You’ll draw hero characters, resource and combat buffs as well as a whole host of units to play with. This deck mechanic seemed slightly daunting at first, giving you the ability to get in and tinker with a deck building mode helped throughout my experience as I was able to tweak the deck I took into combat for my exact play style. The hero characters add bonus’ and buffs if they are in command of your army and as the only named characters in the game I found some fond attachment to some who followed me throughout my skirmishes.

Combat doesn’t take place on the main hex-grid as an automatic process. You are put into a combat scenario with your units and directly command them to victory. Dice rolls determine attack and defence and even who attacks first at the start of each turn. Combat is very dice heavy throughout the game which can seem unfair and become an incredible annoyance. I could take a far superior force into battle and be nearly wiped out because the dice hadn’t rolled the way I’d like. There is a system in place to help with this – your hero characters are given a ‘Fate bonus’ which allows you to change the dice roll, but this is limited and feels almost unnecessary because of the lack of benefit it has.

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Currently only a handful of modes exist in the build available and players will spend the majority of their time in skirmish or multiplayer. Both these modes are incredibly solid, however doesn’t offer a great deal of variety right now for people looking for something a little more fleshed out.

At its most reductive, Last Days of Old Earth brings together successful elements from other franchises and puts them into a single product – the overworld is a hex-based Civilization game, the combat feels like Heroes of Might & Magic and the deck building elements has shades of a Hearthstone clone. Each core element of the game is so solid it’s easy to look past these comparisons. The mechanics of these previous franchises are simplified and streamlined in such a way I found it much easier to pick up and play than a new player would to other games of this type. The game chooses a singular focus in its expansion through combat and espionage rather than culture and population management and this in turn streamlined the entire gameplay loop. Last Days of Old Earth feels more like a board game akin to Risk than it does a pure video game with its dice roles and differing styles amalgamated into a single product.

Although currently content is a little lacking the promises made at the start of Early Access are already coming to fruition only a few weeks in and I can see Last Days of Old Earth growing into a solid entry into the pantheon of turn-based strategy titles.

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Chainsaw Warrior: Lords of the Night Review

cw2_promotional_large_portrait reviewI saw this as being attached to the Games Workshop licence,  and on a whim asked to review it, partially to disprove a few naysayers about GW and their IP (intellectual property ) and them “putting it about a bit” by throwing licence permissions at any old studio. Mostly because I thought this game looked a lot of bonkers fun to play, and it reminded me a little of an old collectible card game I played in my youth.

The premise is joyfully unencumbered of complications – get the chainsaw wielding hard-man to the end of the game whilst keeping him alive through hordes of zombie monsters; collecting weapons, equipment and spells called blessings to aid your overly manly quest. The main character appears to be an amalgamation of all the late 80’s and early 90’s action heroes, and is equally as one dimensional. Chainsaw in hand he spouts cheesy one liners guaranteed to warm the cockles of any connoisseur of that genre, eliciting an eye roll or wry grin from the author.

CW2LOTN_-_005That established, this is where things get a little bonkers. The game itself is timed, you have an hour to get Chainsaw Warrior to the end through various encounters, these are determined by a shuffled deck of cards, defeat one deck, and there are four more to contend with, each deck representing a different locale.  Defeating the encounters is determined by a dice roll, quite often against the randomly generated stats your character is given at the start of the game itself. It’s almost as if the designers took an RPG, added in the standard loot hunt/equipment requirements,  threw it at a text adventure, then drizzled a card game such as Magic or Hearthstone over the top. The most compelling bit of this meandering prose is that somehow this mincemeat custard trifle works, when it really shouldn’t.

Enemies make up the vast majority of the encounters, and the Hero must make a choice on how to engage the baddies based on current ammo count, how close the enemy is and if there are any special rules on the enemy card itself. Dice rolls against the stats on the cards (and against your own character’s) decide if the zombie/soldier/mutant crocodile take a chainsaw to the tits, or if they take a bite out of your pools of wounds.

Destroying your way through an army of zombies allows you to move to the next card, which may be more zombies, an ammo drop, a boss enemy or even nothing at all, all the while running down the timer, and the deck card count. Running out of wounds and you’ll die, running out of cards in a deck moves you to a whole new level of pain, the decks above the first containing more additional rules, more cards and a whole bunch of new meat to chop into chunks.

CW2LOTN_-_001I must admit, I was a little wigged out at first, but the more I allowed the game to develop,  I could see just how the ruthless the studio were with the challenge implicit with the RNG elements. The seemingly crushing dice rolls and never quite knowing if your ammo was ever going to be replenished. This game WILL frustrate you, but when the dice gods favour your rolls, you will become desperate to reach the conclusion of the deck and start the challenge anew.

Downsides to this game? There are only so many zombie deaths that will give you satisfaction before you want to choke yourself with a rubber sextoy as the chainsaw noise grates on the ear after just a few kills. Anyone unused to random luck games will hate that there is no guaranteed win. The graphics would be undemanding of a Casio wristwatch and dialogue makes the monotone translation of Bulgarian photocopying manual into English seem fun. The upsides however are the mash up of genres, the challenge of the unknown and re playability that roguelike addicts will adore.

Score: 7.5 out of 10.