It’s me again with another indie games episode! It’ll get to the stage where I’ll just name the articles by funky titles rather than episodes, but that’s for another time.
Today, I want to revisit a couple of games I’ve previously covered in a ‘Where are they now?’ thing. One of the reasons why I enjoy Early Access and development is seeing how games grow, from an embryonic imagination of a team’s vision, right up to the complete model.
Teardown was the second game I reviewed on here, and you can read about it by clicking the link down below:
It was one of my favorite Early Access titles of 2020, though it didn’t quite make my Top 10 cut that year. Back then, Teardown while solid, was incomplete. An expansive, physics-based sandbox revolving around destruction and heists, Teardown is one of the best games in its class. Ever since it launched in Early Access, the developer Tuxedo Labs have continued to add to this excellent voxel simulator. It’s not perfect, with optimization and a few physics bugs being the only flaws I could think of in my main review back in 2020, but even optimization has improved considerably, to the point I can run it on my mid-tier gaming laptop with few issues, and even better less heat. This is an intensive indie game indeed, and blowing up entire buildings will bring even the strongest computers to their knees, but that’s just how the physics engine works. It’s impressive how they were able to improve the game’s performance so much.
So, what’s changed? The first in December 2021 added the second half of the campaign, presenting players with eight large, fully destructible maps and over forty unique missions. The game also improved accessibility and options for everyone with the ability to unlock all weapons and maps automatically, which is a nice thing to have. Some players just want to mess around in sandbox mode and not worry about objectives. I’m one of those. At launch, you had to unlock everything through the campaign. This is a nice idea, though I always like the option so everyone has the freedom to do what they want. The devs obliged, and now that is in for everybody.
With full mod support added to the game, with its editors easy to learn, Teardown has unlimited potential for the creation of new maps, modes, and tools for people to enjoy. Sandboxes are at their best when the player holds the gun. They become the sheriff of their town, and Teardown encourages this with the power to toggle different options in campaign mode. Is the game too hard for you? Tweak it. The world is the player’s oyster.
The second cool addition was item spawning; now Teardown players can add any item they wish into the game, be it campaign or sandbox mode. What’s cool is the ability to pull assets from any mods downloaded too. More tools for players to enjoy.
Teardown is still in Early Access, but it’s a complete game already. Boasting a modest 20USD price tag, it’s one of the best examples of why it’s good to place your trust in the indie scene. Imagination and creativity create a better world. You can buy Teardown on Steam by clicking on the link here:
I covered Mech Armada previously in my Best of Early Access 2021 article, which you can read here:
Like Teardown, I, unfortunately, snubbed Mech Armada from my Top 10 from the year. Just like Teardown, Mech Armada has received several big updates which only adds to a great game. A mech-building, turn-based roguelike at the core, Mech Armada is rapidly becoming one of my favorite games to just kick back and enjoy.
What changed this game in my eyes from a ‘pretty decent game’ to ‘Holy damn, this is getting good’ was an update that added Sandbox mode, around Christmas time. In this unlimited run, the customization is through the roof. Containing all parts currently unlocked, the ability to change starting resources, and being able to start at any level, was a great move by the developer. Sometimes it’s nice to sit back and relax, and in this mode, the player can experiment to their heart’s content. It’s not a complete God mode, there are still resources to manage, etc, but it’s a major improvement to the game.
Two big updates in February greatly improved the economy and dynamic gameplay. The first economic update rebalanced how energy costs work especially with upgrading parts, and removing the energy cap. The ability to transform and update any mech you want, even in battle, called for some changes to be made, and Mech Armada feels more solid as a result. Parts now have a limited number of uses to encourage more varied designs, and I feel the game is stronger because of this. Before, it was pretty easy to min-max a team of mechs. Nice for power fantasy, but where’s the strategy in that? This update makes it more enjoyable with the limited options without breaking the economy in the process.
My favorite update was released a couple of weeks ago: a campaign map! One of my main critiques of the game was how linear it felt. Before, it was a rigid series of monster battles, with a boss battle at the end of every ‘level’. Not a bad thing in itself, but I would’ve liked to see some more variety. This update allows the player to choose their path! Some paths provide additional resources to build or upgrade mechs, while some offer new parts or weapons. Of course, that might mean running into more dangerous enemies. What used to be a solid if straight-line rogue-like is now a highly improved experience.
Mech Armada is approaching its 1.0 release, probably sometime this summer. For its price point, it’s almost asking too little money for what it offers. I’d still love to see something like mod support and weapon-creation tools, but I’m impressed with what the game provides. Pick it up by checking out the link here:
I decided to cover just two games today, largely because I wanted to focus attention. Early Access is a term that still sees a lot of stigma with communities, and I understand why. However, I’ve always wanted to showcase success stories. Both Teardown and Mech Armada should be considered as such, and both will be included in my gigantic indie resource spreadsheet. I’ve made a start on it, and I will share progress on it as things go.
What’s next? I have a couple more indie corner episodes to write. One will be a selection of games that undersold and will be my attempt to get them more attention, while another episode will cover some more great Early Access releases in recent weeks. I’m excited to dig into Blood West.
My Cyberpunk 1.5 overview will probably be delayed. I got pretty far into a draft before realizing I was just rambling about nonsense, so I made the decision to scrap what I wrote and will start from scratch. I’ll be working on another ‘Games I’m Playing’ article for the end of March as well.
Take care everyone, and stay safe.
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