Early Access games I’m invested in (July 2020)

I am usually careful about which games I decide to support by buying into Early Access. And yet, over the years, there’ve been more and more added to my game library. Thankfully, there is only one exception where the game developer just disappeared. Unfortunately, it was the game I’d been the most excited about!

My general rule is to only buy a game in Early Access if the features currently available make me want to play the game. If I think that I want to wait for something to be added to the game first, then I don’t buy it. The only exception here was SimAirport. But I didn’t know before buying that I really needed a good tutorial and that even with a tutorial, I just wouldn’t get comfortable with the game’s UI. It had its full release in February 2020, maybe I should give it another chance – or find a good video tutorial to play along.

MMORPGs:

Project Gorgon

Official release: unknown

I backed this MMO in August 2015, so almost 5 years ago. There was a time where I played it more than just 5 minutes at a time to see if I can spot any immediate changes. I told myself back then to wait until the game’s full release… maybe I shouldn’t have. I still remember that you were able to play the game for free back then, to see if you actually want to back it. I did try it and quite liked it. So there’s no regret in giving the developers my money. They have been constantly updating the game and whenever I checked, the game was online and available to play.

Project Gorgon Character Creation

The Repopulation

Official release: unknown

I thought that this game came after Project Gorgon, but my email archive says that I registered an account in 2012 and backed the game in February 2015, so actually a few months before Project Gorgon. As with Project Gorgon, there was also a time where I played The Repopulation. I really loved the crafting here and thought that it showed promise. But this game has had a rather rocky development history and I have lost all faith in it ever launching. However, it seems that the developers updated the community and that patches do arrive, so that’s a good thing, I guess.

March 7, 2015 in The Repopulation
March 7, 2015 in The Repopulation

I stopped investing in Early Access MMORPGs. Their scope is just too large and you’ll be waiting for years. With that amount of time, the risk is just that much bigger for the developers to run out of money and that you’ll never see the game launch. However, the time that I did try out both games, I had fun. I just think it’s too late now to really get The Repopulation off the ground. Project Gorgon seems too clunky and outdated to me. But I hear really good things about the game. I don’t consider it a waste of money either, because again, when I did play it, I had fun. In both cases, though, I simply did not get to see a finished game yet and I don’t think I’ll ever play it as actively as I play other MMOs.

Singe player games:

Chef

Official release: “Nearly ready for release

I got Pizza Connection 3 for free and really enjoyed playing it when I saw this game pop up in my recommendations. I don’t remember what convinced me to buy it, but I did – in February this year. The game is pretty much playable already and I actually forgot at some point that it’s in Early Access. The developer has a roadmap available, but since it is close to release, I guess most of these things are in the game already. I know that some are! I really like this game, even though I have not yet completely understood how I can make my own recipes and what each unlock does exactly. But I haven’t played it that much yet either. What I don’t like much is the energy system of the staff. When they’re idle, they automatically regenerate. But if they don’t get to be idle, they may lose their current energy bar which will make them lose some of their motivation. I prefer putting staff on a schedule with definitive breaks.

Empyrion – Galactic Survivial

Official release: They plan to leave Early Access on August 5.

This is a “3D open world space sandbox survival adventure”. I completely forgot I had this game. I apparently last played it in 2017 and bought it in December 2016. I restarted it now, in freedom mode, so I won’t die immediately. I chose the Freedom mode, because it lets me ignore hunger and health and just focus on exploration. There is also a Sandbox mode which eliminates enemies. I don’t want such an extreme mode, though. Something in between survival and sandbox is fine, so I’m happy the developers give me this mode.

The tutorial asked me to harvest a plant for its protein. I destroyed lots of plants on the ground, but nothing counted. Then I also found a big alien plant. According to a quick internet search, this was the plant I needed. I have my survival tool equipped that I used to harvest ore with its resource drill setting. I tried that with the plant and was told I can’t damage it that way. I then switched to salvage mode and was told the same. With defence mode, I could damage it. Perfect. Only that I did destroy the plant and nothing remained. So… how am I supposed to harvest a plant then? I tried it with my bare hands and looked in my inventory, but there was nothing else to use. I’ve been away for three years and this is what happens within 5 minutes into the game. Another internet search says I only have to press “F”, but the option (that is, the yellow rectangle) never appeared for me. I simply stood there looking like an idiot who has never seen a plant.

While this game does have third person view, even with scrolling as far away as possible, I still get a weird feeling in my head which results in my stomach revolting. Also, when I use my motorcycle, the view switches to first person view again when getting off it and the camera is right behind my character’s head. I need to scroll out again. It’s supposedly done by clicking Alt + the scroll wheel, but it didn’t register as such on the first or even the second try. Altogether, you can see that this game is still in Early Access and for me personally, it may never be playable due to simulation sickness despite a third person view.

Foundation

Official release: Unknown

This is a little city-builder game. I last played it in December 2019 (bought it in February 2019) and then decided to pause until they’re closer to release. Only because I wanted to enjoy the experience when there are more buildings and when there is more to the economy. It already was really good at that point, though. I like how you don’t need to build roads. When your villagers use certain paths more often, they automatically stop growing grass there. Much like in reality. And I know that trampled paths appeared in Cultures, too. You can zoom in very close here and see all the details the developers put into the buildings. It has gotten much more depth since December and while it takes a bit to get used to the commands for building, every control is visible for you to read in building mode. I also love that you can customize your buildings somewhat. The market stalls have different visuals, for example. And you can choose to add stuff to your manor. I decided not to add a tower as it would have cost at least 2 gold coins per week for its maintenance. More if I wanted a higher tower. The developers have a roadmap that everybody can look at to see where they stand. I am most excited about the UI rehaul. They already gave us a teaser and it looks really good and much more modern!

Imagine Earth

Official release: If all goes well, September 2020

I bought it at the beginning of this year, in January. To be honest, I have no idea why I haven’t played it more yet. I think it was because while it is a city-builder game, the mechanics aren’t in a way that I could just play and I actually had to pay attention to the tutorial and read. It is basically a city-building game only that you’re on a planet. Each structure that you can build is triangular and there are interaction effects with tiles next to yours. I should probably take a look at the tutorial again (the planet “Tuto”) to not feel that lost. Even though I have not played it much and can’t possibly give a detailed review let alone good first impressions about it, I can tell that I really like what I see and I’ll definitely give it a thorough look when it does release officially.

Legend of Keepers

Official release: Beginning of 2021

I bought this in March 2020, after trying out the free prologue. It’s rare these days to get a game demo and since this isn’t the kind of game I usually buy without hesitating, it certainly helped me in making that decision. I don’t regret this purchase. The developer just posted an updated roadmap on July 17. Below the image, you can find a month by month list of when they plan to add which features. That’s certainly ambitious! It’s a fun little game to play in the evenings as it doesn’t need too much attention. That is, it’s not a real-time strategy game. There’ve been a lot of games now with the twist of you playing the monster defeating the heroes, but since there are always more games where you are the hero killing monsters, I don’t think there can be too many of these.

Old World

Official release: Unknown

This is one of the more recent additions. I bought it in May 2020 and it was also the first game I bought in the Epic Store (the second and only other game is “Surviving the Aftermath” – see below). The original publisher went bankrupt, apparently, and they got this deal from Epic. Even if they never finished and released the game, I would have still already gotten my money’s worth and much more. My current playtime is somewhere along 5+ days. I am currently not playing it that much because as much fun as it was, I need a little break now (meaning I don’t play it every single evening…). Still, it really is a great game and very playable already. There are some bugs, mostly with text that doesn’t fit. The family tree gets wonky once the family relations get more complicated (my sister married the widower of my cousin who is still attached to that side of the family in the family tree which means that their kid is my niece but officially listed as the kid of my cousin…). It’s a great turn-based strategy game with a touch of soap opera and randomness thanks to the events.

Overcrowd

Official release: Unknown

I love this game, I hate the sculpting of the floor. With it having the view that it does, it’s very difficult to see which level the floor is on and it is also really difficult to raise or lower one specific tile. But that is my only complaint about this game. I bought it in January this year, not long before we moved. And with the move, I thankfully no longer have to take the trains from a heavily unreliable urban railway. So this was kind of a tribute to that… and, well, I like building-management games and it’s a theme I didn’t have yet. Collect them all, right? It does take a bit of micro-management as in the beginning, you need to manually call the next rain when it becomes available. You can later automate this process, but then there is only one train per hour per line while manually clicking seems to allow more trains – more like one every 40 minutes or so? Thankfully, your staff is usually capable enough of handling all the other issues like emptying bins, killing rats, healing injured passengers and kicking out hooligans. They don’t have a public roadmap, but the developer encourages questions in their Discord server.

Parkasaurus

Official release: August 13, 2020

I actually didn’t buy this game. I was asked to test it, which I did and I left the developers feedback, of course, and in return, I got the game for free (in September 2018). When I tested it and gave feedback, I didn’t know yet that I would get the game as a thank you in return, though, so this was a very nice surprise. I have really enjoyed playing this game, but I am now waiting for its official release, so I won’t lose all motivation to play beforehand. Do not get this game expecting to get anything serious. The dinosaurs here wear hats! But they can still escape and kill your guests. I spent 106 hours playing this game already. So even if I had spent money on it, it would have been worth it. The developers are very active, so I’m not worried about this title at all. Out of this whole list, I would say that Parkasaurus and Old World are the ones that I think are the safest to get an official – and GOOD – release.

Surviving the Aftermath

Official release: Early 2021

This is a game that I mainly got because I had a coupon for Epic Games after buying Old World and since Surviving the Aftermath was on sale, I got it for cheap (6 €). Otherwise, I would have waited until its release to see if it really appeals to me. I did start to play it, but then I really got into Old World. Sadly, the Epic Store doesn’t update games in a way that Steam does, so it’s easy to miss when or if a game got an update. But I assume that the developers are still very active. They have Paradox behind them, after all. And the official site lists regular monthly updates until May 2020. They released a letter with an update on the current situation stating the planned release date of early 2021 and the release of Steam Early Access in October 2020. I will take a closer look at this game once I’ve done so with other games. As I said, this wasn’t a planned purchase, but 6 instead of 20 € was too tempting!

The Universim

Official release: Listed on Steam as Dec 31, 2020, but the developers say they release when they are “completely satisfied with the final product”.

And the last one on my list (I chose to list them alphabetically) is my newest addition. I bought it in June 2020, during Steam’s summer sale. I actually did play it, despite getting Surviving the Aftermath earlier. It’s just a more cheerful game colour-wise. However, I stopped when they brought an update which introduced a bug that didn’t let me progress in the tutorial. I still don’t like that you need to build an archive and – at least temporarily – put one of your nuggets (your inhabitants) to work there in order to save the game. It feels weird. But it is a charming game! Since I have not had it for a long time yet, I also haven’t followed its progress much so far. But there have been regular updates and the game is playable – well, most of the time… unless there’s a bug like I encountered. But that’s only during the tutorial. Basically, I needed to finish a quest of renaming two nuggets in order to advance. But renaming them didn’t work and the game didn’t register the new names. It’s fixed now as I could start a new game and advance past that point.

Altogether, despite thinking I’m careful when choosing, I did get some games that I probably shouldn’t have bought just yet. But this is in no case because the developers are doing a bad job. It is just because the game is either not for me or it is not yet in a state where it’s fun for me to play it. So in a way, I do choose the games carefully. I just can’t always judge whether they’re fun for me or not.

5 Comments

  1. Out of all of those, I have only backed Universim and even am included on that giant monument that you can build where all the backers are mentioned! :D I still don’t know how far the game is and if it’s worth playing… when i last played it a few years ago, the little settlers just got lost in the wild and starved to death despite me giving them no orders to walk somewhere off into the wild.

    But apart from that I also backed some other titles, including Goblins of Elderstone and Dead Cells – two games that I fell in love with when I first saw gameplay of it and two games that I don’t regret backing at all! :)

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    1. I haven’t played it much yet, but it is cute! Although I wish the nuggets had eyes. Even just little black dots as eyes would be nice.
      Do you mean backing as in Kickstarter or as in Early Access? I only included the ones that are in Early Access and thus, playable right now, because there’s not much to report on otherwise as the developers can say a lot – unless you can play and see for yourself, you can’t judge anything about the game. :p

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  2. Wow, that is quite a list. I’m not 100% sure but I think the only early access game I bought is Rise to Ruins and it was already in a playable state and I absolutely got my money’s worth when playing it, with the added bonus of a whole set of new features when I came back to it.

    Wouldn’t even say I’m against the whole thing or extra cautious, but I’m not known for my determination in following through with gaming plans. If I want to play a game it needs to be available right now. I can almost guarantee I won’t be interested in playing half a year later. Maybe 1 or 2 years later, then.

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    1. That’s why I only buy Early Access games that are already in a good enough playable state. My main thought is basically “do I think I would enjoy the game as it is right now?”. Foundation, for example, was already very playable. I just decided to wait to get even more enjoyment out of it later without “killing” the excitement of “oh, shiny!” now.

      Although I also did back two games on Kickstarter recently and these are obviously not available yet. But I did get to play their demos and enjoyed the games as they were… so, close enough. ;)

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