Voices of Ambition: A Poem about Praetor Sheoldred
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We’re approaching the end of 2022. Honestly? It’s been a crappy year even as the 2020s go so far, but at least we’ve been able to play some fantastic games! Even considering all the significant delays and pushbacks, I’ve had an incredible year with gaming, far more so than in 2021. The delays are understandable. Yes, the pandemic is still a thing.
I’m experimenting with a slightly different format for this episode. As I go, I’ve been learning the reviewing process, and I feel I’m improving yearly. I started writing about video games in 2015, and my writing was a mess for a long time. A lot of my process involved being angry about games, which was both cringy and stupid. I’ve mellowed out in recent years; there’s just not much I feel the need to be angry about. It’s changed how I view games. Of course, if there are flaws, I’ll point them out, but there’s a difference between anger and being an asshole about things. I look back upon my articles in 2016 and flinch at how idiotic I sounded. There’s always a better way to do something.
Every time I write one of these articles, I learn something new, and the feedback is excellent. So for this episode, I’m trying something new. My usual Indie Corner impressions format is discussing two or three games each in a decent amount of depth, discussing them, and judging whether I recommend them. Today, I’ll be making more basic summaries with a list of pros and cons. I don’t score games; I just say if I recommend them or not. If people like this format, I’ll be happy to do more of them. If not, that’s okay as well!
Slime Rancher 2
There are several highly curated indie titles that everyone should play at least once. Games like Stardew Valley, Factorio, Rimworld, and Hollow Knight are just a few, and I’ll be here all day if I list them all. Slime Rancher is yet another big tick in favor of the Early Access program and is one of my favorite cozy games to pick up and play. People often list the ‘failures’ as a stick to beat Early Access while ignoring the success stories. I never understand that mentality, but I guess negativity gets clicks.
The anticipated sequel to Slime Rancher came out in September to universal popularity, and I understand why. Yes, it’s Early Access, but it did brilliantly for the original, and lessons have clearly been learned in Slime Rancher 2. Despite the EA tag, it feels polished and adds several new mechanics to the original game. It’s Slime Rancher 2.0, and that’s a good thing. It’s gorgeous, cute, and just as enjoyable as the original.
Despite my good times with Slime Rancher 2, I have to question how worthy it is as a sequel. Yes, it changes a few things and adds more, but original fans might go into it feeling underwhelmed. It’s a great game already, and I trust Monomi Park to turn Slime Rancher 2 into another GOTY, but it might spoil my appetite if I delve too greedily and too deep while it’s still in development. It’s improved over the visuals in many ways, but that comes with work to be done on the optimization front: things tend to chug on modest hardware.
It needs work, but I’m excited about the future. I might put it aside until there’s more content, just like how I feel about Baldurs Gate 3. That’s not a bad thing. If you like Slime Rancher 1, you’ll like Slime Rancher 2. If you’re on the fence, there’s no harm in picking up the first game and waiting!
Beautiful visuals and adorable slimes
Some optimization improvements to be had
Several mechanic additions and improvements to the original
Unsure if worth playing over the complete, polished Slime Rancher 1 yet
Still early in development
We’ve seen a resurgence in tactical RPGs this year, both AAA and indie. On the indie side, I’ve played Crystal Project, Symphony of War: Nephilim Saga, Summoner’s Fate, Prime of Flames, Hard West 2, and Absolute Tactics: Daughters of Mercy, all of which bring their own tastes. I recommend them, though Summoner’s Fate and Symphony of War lead the pack. I also tried Triangle Strategy on the Nintendo Switch earlier in 2022, but its uneven pacing caused me to lose interest quickly. I want to play the game, not just read a ton of story and dialogue.
Lost Eidolons is an impressive debut game by Ocean Drive Studios, boasting an exciting story and simple yet addictive combat that reminds me of Divinity Original Sin 2 lite and characters that I care about. While I’m only a few chapters into the game, the narrative and lore keep me interested. Usually, these tactical RPGs lean on the edgier side for storytelling, and while Lost Eidolons won’t win any writing awards, it’s still engaging for me. In addition, the voice acting impressed me, coming from a small dev studio.
Yes, the game might be predictable so far, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it. Battle animations might be a little buggy, but the battlefields and fluid combat system ooze atmosphere, and there’s plenty of side content and dialogue. I wish there was more enemy diversity, and I can see myself getting a little bored with the repetition of the fights, but I feel good things about Lost Eidolons so far. The price tag is fair for the quality and content, and while it’s a little rough around the edges, it’s one hell of an opener by this new developer. Good stuff, overall, and I’m looking forward to playing more.
Simple, but addictive tactical combat
Some bugs, nothing gamebreaking
A diverse cast with solid worldbuilding and lore
Repetitive side content
Good voice acting
Lack of enemy diversity
Grand strategy games are still popular, which I’m happy to see. Victoria 3 from Paradox will be released when this article goes live, and I hope it does well. After all the problems Paradox has suffered this past year, they need another success story. I still play Crusader Kings III, and it’s probably my favorite Paradox title.
Terra Invicta is a long-awaited game by Long War’s creators, the incredible Xcom series mod. It took me a long time to feel confident about writing an impressions review for this game because it has so many moving parts that it will be overwhelming for dedicated strategy fans. Ambitious is putting it lightly for Terra Invicta: this makes Paradox games look like a classic Ubisoft sandbox game in terms of complexity. I’ll be transparent, these are early impressions. I will need dozens more hours in the game before I feel like I can write a full review, but early images are essential, and I wanted to write up my thoughts. The opening is a big thing to get right in any entertainment industry, especially in gaming. If you can’t grab a customer quickly, they will lose interest.
Terra Invicta blends the present-day Solar System in astonishing political detail. Nearly everything can be manipulated, from public opinion to economics and the military, as the world’s nations conspire against each other: but a new threat is developing from the cosmos: extra-terrestrial foes. It’s like combining the early age of Stellaris with the Expanse and Three-Body Problem, and different factions view the growing alien activity differently. Some want to befriend, some want to fight, and some like the aliens to take over humanity. Seeing how the current world situation is, I’m visiting why people want to look to alien civilizations… coughs and looks at Trisolaris.
This is a gigantic and sprawling game: deep political mechanics, dozens of ways to influence countries, hundreds of technologies, and, later on: space colonization. The game is in Early Access, but in terms of content, there’s a treasure trove: different ways to play a campaign, a fully-fledged skirmish mode, and built-in mod support. Unfortunately, while the content is engaging and profound, this is one slow-burner. It will take dozens of hours to fully grasp everything, and most of the time will involve waiting around while agents complete missions. That’s going to put people off.
The interface requires a lot of polish: right now, there’s no way to increase the font size or scale UI, which is going to suck for a lot of people. As a result, I’ve had to squint at the screen to work out what I’m reading. The game has a tutorial, but it’s probably not enough for something this gigantic.
Despite these shortcomings, I’m excited about Terra’s future. These are very early impressions for me, but I’m impressed. They have the potential to make the next big thing in grand strategy, and while it needs work, this could be the game great strategy fans have always wanted. Just… stick with it for a while. Perhaps make some snacks while playing; you’ll be there for a long time.
An incredibly deep, ambitious strategy game
Lots of minor bugs and a rough interface take away from the experience
Huge amount of content, including mod support
Small font size with no way to change it makes this unsuitable for visually impaired
A very steep and slow learning curve
So this did get delayed, but not as much as I expected it would! It’s been a busy few months, and I’m excited to bring more opinions on the many games I play. My experience with the Steam Deck is as strong as ever, and you’ll bet I’ll do more coverage on Valve’s latest big thing soon.
The next Indie Corner episode will probably come next week. November will see me winding down these impression reviews as I plot my GOTY schedule for December. It’s always an important event for me, and 2022 might be the biggest of them all. Watch this space!