Hempuli Oy’s Baba is You came out last month and has received nothing but praise, since. Baba is a puzzle game that is about re-writing the language of the game itself when you (Baba,Baba is You, remember?) move blocks of words. The developer, Arvi Teikari, is behind a ton of other games.
I think one of my absolute favourite things about this, beyond being a completely original and utterly brilliant puzzler, is how meticulously balanced it is in terms of offering progress. The difficulty curves up in each set of levels, getting pretty steep toward each groups’ end, but it unlocks the next set before you’ve completed them all. The difficulty of the next group dips back down again as it also introduces new rules, meaning that even if you’ve become completely stuck in one place, there’s likely somewhere else you can continue playing. Offering both super-difficulty and progress is all too rare, and something to celebrate.
More usually a feature of games that have spent far too long in early access, No Man’s Sky feels like a game that’s made for people who already play No Man’s Sky. When an available game’s opening is reworked and reworked, iteration colliding with iteration, both the developers and current playerbase seem to lose track of accessibility, and that is woefully apparent in No Man’s Sky’s latest incarnation. Already being a very familiar player, I knew to just wearily restart the game three times until I got a planet that wasn’t outrageously toxic with Sentinels that attacked on sight. Three times it took me to get a habitable starting location where I could wrestle with all the daft new faff. None of this would be communicated to someone coming in cold, who would be left to assume that either the game was idiotically difficult, or broken.
The game’s controls and feel especially overloaded as Walker says:
Each menu seems to have contradictory controls, leaving me never knowing if I’m supposed to be left clicking, holding down left click, or pressing E, F or X, and even something as simple as moving items between your inventories is now a confusing jumble of both. Once where you could open a green box on the ground by just pressing a single key to get its contents, now you have to press X and select a menu to move some “rusty parts” out of the way, before it then dumps the item inside into a menu of its own choosing. It’s like they went through every single system and pondered how they could make it far more of a fiddle.
Despite all of the flaws, I love No Man’s Sky particular brand of exploration, quirks and all.
The husk of 3D Realms has published a new BUILD-engine game, Ion Maiden, developed by Voidpoint. In Steam’s Early Access program, It has the atrocious Shelly “Bombshell” Harrison character from 3D Realms’ twin-stick shooter, Bombshell. I completely forgot about that game before it was even released.
It’s a game about screaming around at outrageous speeds, hammering the Use button on any object or wall that looks out of place just in case, and of course spreading enemy gibs about the walls and floor. It feels so fluid, so natural, and such a blessed respite from the bum-following misery-trudge that is so much of modern first-person shooting. It’s ludicrous in every way, enemies aiming with ridiculous skill, and you tasked to work out how to deal with that.
Ion Maiden’s Early Access preview campaign is $20 on Steam for Windows and Linux. As good as it is, I’d be unlikely to get it without seeing the finished game, which is scheduled for late this year.