Folk Tale: Where is it now? (March 2017)

Folk Tale LogoFolk Tale has been in development and in Steam Early Access for a long time already and this is where a lot of the negative reviews are coming from. The developer, GamesFoundry, has steadily been working on the game and there have been regular updates (game updates as well as communication!) in all that time (please note: I’m using the experimental build which gets updated even more often). So I personally never thought the game to be abandoned (but I do understand people getting impatient). However, this is not going to be the focus of my blog post. What has been or what will be one day isn’t important if you are now sitting here wondering: Should I buy this game? So I will instead focus on this: “What do you get for your money right now?”

For those of you who have never even heard of Folk Tale before: It’s a kind of city-builder / simulation game with some RPG features set in a medieval-fantasy world. Kind of like the Settlers or Cultures. It’s in real-time and apart from managing your city, you also need to defend it from beasts and enemies. So it is not like Cities: Skylines where you focus on building but never have to worry about getting attacked. The game is in its alpha stage on Steam Early access and costs $19.99€. If this is too much for you, you can also wait for a sale.

Folk Tale offers a tutorial, a campaign, a sandbox mode and the editor. The FAQ says that Act I of the campaign is already finished with Act II “nearing completion”. I will try to avoid spoilers here for the story campaign, of course! But let’s start with the bit that a new player would probably start with as well:

The Tutorial

Folk Tale has one, despite being in Early Access, and it’s even voiced already! The tutorial is quite long and detailed and as far as I can tell (as somebody who isn’t new to the genre), it explains everything you need to know.

It is basically a little campaign with some nice humour introducing you to the game and the setting. You start by slowly building the foundation of your village. It’s the typical way of doing things in such games: You have a build menu where you can choose certain buildings like the woodcutter hut or the fishing hut. You need free, peasants (unoccupied villagers) to build a building and you need a certain amount of resources (wood, stone etc. depending on what you want to build). The buildings need villagers who work there and you can choose which of them is the lucky one to get the job. You increase your population by building more huts. If your villagers are happy in general, then new villagers will come when you have the capacity (that is, when you’ve got enough huts). Villagers can also be dissatisfied (e. g., when they’re hungry) and I guess this means no new villagers are coming or they will come very slowly. Either way, your villagers can apparently also revolt and the crime increases. I read something about villagers burning down buildings when that happens… Speaking of burning: Make sure to build a well soon! I didn’t do that (though that wasn’t in the tutorial, but in a sandbox game) and then I could do nothing but watch three buildings burn down. If a fire breaks out, the building slowly burns down unless you have a well and a peasant to run to the well, grab water, run to the building and extinguish the fire. Fire can also travel to nearby buildings. In other words, if extinguishing doesn’t happen or takes too long, more houses will start to burn. That’s why I lost three buildings at once.

Back to the tutorial village: You’re asked to build a windmill, wheat fields and a bakery after the woodcutter hut. Once that is done, your village’s needs are basically covered as they won’t freeze or starve. That’s when Ser Gregory appears! Folk Tale isn’t the peaceful city-building game. It features mobs to kill and loot to gain! Ser Gregory is one of the heroes that you get who will fight for you against the various enemies on your map. More on these heroes later, though. For now, it’s time to leave the tutorial and take a look at the other parts of the game…

The Campaign

As I mentioned above, the campaign isn’t finished yet, but the first act is there already. In the campaign, you get quests that guide you through a story. This part reminds me a lot of the Cultures series. Regular readers are probably going to roll their eyes at me now, because I keep throwing in this game series whenever anything even remotely similar appears in the gaming world. :p But here it just fits! Cultures 2 also had heroes on top of the regular soldiers you could have. And I actually almost exclusively played the campaign in these games. It was engaging and fun and I liked following their stories. As I said, I will not give you any spoilers here, so I will keep it rather short. You get a story, you follow it and the heroes play an important role in there. Also, the characters are voiced and the voices are really well done!

At one point, my hero was asked to enter a cave. After entering, I was inside that cave (well, duh!), with no easy access to my village anymore. At least, not on that map. I didn’t look whether I could switch back to the map at that point. Once I finished the quest (again, no spoilers), I had the option to leave again and then I was on the main map again which housed my village, too. But it’s a very nice feature as it feels a bit like a game within a game. Diablo-light maybe? And again, it lets you get closer to the heroes and get to know them better.

But that’s all I’m saying about the campaign now.

The Sandbox

You can play freely here with no quests telling you what to do. The heroes and villagers are still talking every once in a while which makes it more lively than if they’re all silent. You start with nothing but a handful of villagers, Ser Gregory and Willow. The latter are two heroes who can fight and protect your village. Before you can do anything, you have to set your supply wagon on the ground. I guess it’s best to have a look around the near area to check for a good place. Don’t ask me what a good place for it is, though. I don’t really know… I usually choose something that’s probably going to be the centre of my village, but I also try not to use the only open space as that’s probably better suited for the mill later which requires wheat fields nearby and thus, needs quite a bit of open space!

You can order your peasants (the unoccupied townsfolk) to go gather resources, e. g., wood or berries. But this isn’t as good as having professionals, of course. I often look for the river and see if there is fish in there. You can see them swim, but it’s easier to open the building menu, choose the fishing hut and just look for the fish icons at the river. As soon as you give the order to build the fishing hut, peasants will come build it. As is often the case with such games, you can only order them to build that fishing hut if you’ve got enough resources for it! So, you hopefully sent your other peasants collecting some wood in the meantime. Also, don’t forget to assign somebody to work as a fisherman / fisherwoman from now on. The next thing on your agenda should be the woodcutter hut. One of the tooltips said the foresters also plant new trees, so you shouldn’t worry about running out of resources. I am not sure what happens with stone or iron mines. They obviously can’t just be refilled. Also, as I noticed in the tutorial: Don’t wait too long to build a well! I also learned that wells should not be too far away from my buildings as the peasants need to run to that well, get some water and run to the burning building. As you can see, these peasants actually do serve a very important purpose!

In general, I like that there are so many different things to build. You have the usual resource gathering buildings, the food production ones, but also a herbalist den which produces medicine for sick villagers. Each building can get upgraded or you can choose to invest in some “research” to improve productivity, for example. Some buildings also have crafting options, but I have nothing to craft yet. The tooltip mentions finding recipes as loot. Speaking of loot: When your heroes defeated enemies (spiders, for example), you can loot them. Sometimes, the enemies even drop some upgraded armor for your heroes. And not only do these items come with stats, they also have skins that change the way your characters look! Willow is a healer type of hero and she reminds me a lot of the Sylvari in Guild Wars 2. Some forest-loving fae-thingy, I assume. But with my fighting Ser Gregory and Willow, I have a nice strong pair of military to fight against the nearby bears, wolves, spiders and… I think they were goblins. Unfortunately, when my village got attacked, my villagers always ran to fight instead of running away. In Cultures, when attacks happened, the regular villagers tried to get away or, if it was enemy tribes, I could even ring an alarm bell which made all villagers run into the main building to hide there. That’s the much smarter choice, after all! Especially since my villagers have no weapons to defend themselves. Thankfully, new villagers arrive fast enough when the general happiness isn’t too low.

The Editor

You can make your own maps if you like or you can load other people’s maps from the Steam workshop. I only loaded the editor, but did not feel like getting into the controls. I did play a lot with it back in the early days when the game wasn’t really there yet and the most you could do was create maps. It was fun, but in the long run, I lack the patience to really build like that. I just felt I should mention it if you happen to like making maps in games. And, of course, being able to load other people’s creations is always great because we can all benefit from others’ creativity that way!

General personal impressions

What I have seen so far is working very well. The game crashed only once so far and the loading time when I first start a game is really bad sometimes. As in really really bad. Up to a couple of minutes, actually. However, once it has loaded, everything reacts fast – and it’s not always that slow. And hey, the developers probably have to worry about other things like optimizing the game loading times. If Folk Tale was released already, I’d say this is a negative point that’s annoying. Until then, it doesn’t count. Other than that, I really enjoy the game! The graphics are cute (“good” graphics aren’t important to me as long as the style fits to the game and it certainly does here if you ask me). The buildings are really neat and I like looking at all the details. I assume it takes quite a while to unlock everything for your village (buildings that can be upgraded, having all buildings filled with workers, doing all the research associated with the buildings and so on). The campaign seems to be quite entertaining, too. The characters’ voices are amazing if you ask me! They add a lot of personality to the characters and it all fits together. So, if I hadn’t already bought the game, I would definitely buy it now.

My verdict

If you like what I’ve written here and you think this is worth 20 bucks, then go buy it! Or wait until it’s on sale… or check out YouTube videos (but make sure it’s more recent videos as the game is in development, after all) if you need more information or want to see the game in action. I think that right now, the game offers quite a lot already and it’s worth it – but I did buy the game at a cheaper price when it went into Early Access, so my “anchor” is lower than the current price.

However, do not buy it if you say “It will be worth it, once it has feature X or Y!” – If this is what you think, then wait until the game does have feature X or Y. And definitely don’t buy it if you only want to play a game that’s officially released. It is in its development stage, so bugs and everything related to it are to be expected.

Oh, and if you are now wondering whether you want to buy Folk Tale, but have unanswered questions about it: Feel free to ask them here. Maybe I can help you!

Quick First Impressions Review: Northgard

Northgard

I’ve promised to write down my impressions of Northgard on Twitter. The game released tonight, exactly two hours ago and since it is an early access game, you will not get my usual first impressions review, but a very quick first impressions review. :p I will – depending on the outcome of this first glance – report about significant changes and added features and write a more in-depth first impressions piece later on!

Now, for the most important part: What exactly is Northgard? – To answer this, let me first ask you: Did you play Settlers? Did you play Cultures (shown below)? If you did play Cultures, come here, sit down, take a cookie, say hello and be my best friend! Cultures is the game that got me into gaming in the “modern age” (after my C64-days). Cultures was – is, rather – a game about Vikings. It has single player campaigns and multiplayer coop and PvP maps. I liked it a lot more than Settlers, because you could name every single of your Vikings and you assigned each of them their job and determined which one got married and so on.

My main problem is: There is Cultures and it got so many things right in my opinion. And here is Northgard. A new game just freshly released into Early Access. Several features like multiplayer are not yet implemented. But even when all features are in the game, I need to remind myself that this isn’t Cultures! Comparing it directly will only disappoint me. But enough about these games. I merely mentioned them, because when I saw Northgard, I immediately had to think about Cultures and after Valhalla Hills being rather disappointing, my hope was that Northgard would be a worthy successor. However, it is probably better to keep that nostalgic feeling at the back of my mind and look at Northgard with fresh eyes. Shiro Games are different developers and apparently they (or one of them, at least) did not even know the Cultures series existed. Shiro Games are the developers of Evoland and Evoland 2, by the way. I never played these games, but I know the name. Northgard still very much reminds me of Settlers and Cultures. It’s a real-time strategy/simulation game where you build and grow a village of Vikings. You need to gather resources and food and defend against various enemies as well as attack others to gain more regions for your tribe!

So, let’s look at Northgard: You start with a tiny little piece of land and a few villagers. There are only men around which I am not a fan of. Yes, I know there is always a huge debate whether there were women fighting for the Vikings, but that’s not what I mean! It’s a village. It should have men and women. In Cultures, women tended to the house, brought home food (= carriers ^^) in Cultures 2, they also took care of bringing home dishes and stuff and they gave birth to the Viking children. It just made it more believable!

The first thing you will probably build is a Scout camp. Scouts explore the surrounding areas. Your territory is very small and you are only allowed up to build 4 buildings in there. So you need to expand and claim more areas for yourself (and you can only build 4 buildings in each of them). Then you do what you usually do in this kind of game: You place a woodcutter lodge, a hunter’s lodge if your area has deer, maybe you can place a fishing hut if you have fish nearby. Of course, you also have things like a training camp for warriors or a defense tower. Houses will allow more villagers to come to your village. The user interface is pretty clean, intuitive and easy to navigate.

Something I did not understand at first: In order to survive winter, you should probably have a fishing hut. Where I got placed, there were no fish, though. I also had no fertile land despite claiming three areas out of which one was very green all over. The game did not tell me what counts as fertile land. I started a second game to see if I had more luck there (spoiler: I did! I found fish, but no fertile land).

Fighting is very straight-forward. Tell your warriors where to go, right-click the enemy. I had my two warriors die to wolves. After recruiting two new warriors, I was a bit surprised to see one of my warriors still alive. Maybe I’d just had tomatoes on my eyes? I told my two new warriors to join their buddy – by right-clicking on him. The next thing I knew was that a message informed me that the leader of the neighbouring clan was not happy about my hostile action. Now I know that a) the warriors aren’t too easy to distinguish (or I do indeed have tomatoes on my eyes – both equally possible and likely! ^^) and b) the other clans don’t immediately go to war just because you accidentally killed one of their warriors. Good neighbours, I would say. The kind of neighbours I like. Such a simple little unimportant mistake shouldn’t lead to resentful actions, right? But without fish or fertile land, I decided to start a new game and see where I would be placed here. Maybe I would be luckier…

The second game indeed went much better: I had fish! But I was at the maximum of 5 Vikings and I needed more to grow (and I had negative food production, that is, more food was consumed than produced). I wanted to hurry up with the wood production as I was lacking wood for another house and added my last free Viking to the woodcutter lodge. Then there was no Viking left to build that house. But no problem, I’ll just unassign… nope. It’s either not possible, not yet possible or I could not find the option*.

Thankfully, I had a warrior standing around that I decided to send into a kamikaze run to nearby enemies, so he’d die and I could have one more Viking which would come to my village with no assigned role! Other than assigning regular villagers to build buildings, they gather food in the area when they have nothing else to do. At least, when it’s not winter. I like this little touch of having the seasons affect the game!

There is also something like a tech tree in the game. I am gathering lore points a— HEY! While I was typing this, the game made a weird sound… it was the clear sound of an alarm! The minimap showed one of my areas flashing in bright red. Something attacked me! But no, not something. Somebody. The one clan I had found already which had been neutral to me. Apparently, as we are right next to each other, as it’s winter, and as I have fish, they thought they could just attack me! I had also just sacrificed my one warrior, so I was defenseless. I am happy to report, though, that you can assign every Viking to your training camp to convert them into a warrior. Two warriors later, my area was successfully defended but I am down to one warrior again. And only one woodcutter, but I had only wanted to have one in the first place. So no big deal. Except that I had no food anymore and still had a negative production, because there were no free villagers left to gather food. But one new villager arrived just in time! Phew. We’re safe!

Back to the lore tree: Once I am at the maximum amount shown (which is 100 lore in the beginning), I can unlock something. I decided my warriors should get fur coats, so their attack power isn’t reduced in foreign areas during winter. The next unlock costs 120 lore.

 

Just so we know that this is not everything to the game… look at that black cloud on the picture. It appeared together with a pop-up tooltip window informing me that portals opened and I would have to make sure my defenses are strong enough…

Northgard

And with this, I am going to end my very first impression piece.

What’s the verdict here? So far, the game runs smoothly on my PC. No technical issues, no bugs that I noticed – and just when I was wondering whether it could become a bit too boring, the neighbouring clan attacked me! So far, so good. Northgard is in Early Access, so the game is still being developed and more features will be added. I do not regret the purchase! Speaking of purchase: ‘What’s the price?’ you may ask. It’s currently on sale for $17.99€ on Steam Early Access until March 1, then the price will go up to $19.99€. Still a good price if this is the kind of game you enjoy playing!

However, as with every Early Access title: Choose wisely whether you want to invest now as the game does lack some features! Inform yourself first and make the judgment based on what is there now, not on what could maybe eventually end up in the game in the not-so-soon future. If you like what you see, then yes, go ahead and buy the game! It isn’t expensive, after all. If you’re uncertain, better wait and check YouTube or Twitch for Let’s Plays before making a decision.

*It’s the latter. I looked at the steam community hub for this game and found a thread about this where they mentioned how it works: You select the worker you want to convert back to villager and send him to the Town Hall (the main building you start with) or to one of the houses you’ve built and that puts them back to being a regular villager. It also helps spreading houses around the map as it means less travel time for this task.

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (April 2016)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchFragmented, the “little brother” of The Repopulation will officially arrive in Steam Early Access soon, on April 26. If you already own The Repopulation, you will get Fragmented for free – or you already got access to it if you registered for pre-steam early access-access. :p Either way, there is still an NDA on the game until after it has launched in Early Access. As such, there is not much known about the game, or rather those who do know are not allowed to say anything. But I would assume that streamers and maybe even some bloggers or gaming websites will release information and/or show off the game as soon as they are allowed to!

What do we officially know is that this game is supposed to serve as a foundation for The Repopulation as the developers had to switch engines and are building the games at the moment. While The Repopulation will eventually be a complex sandbox MMORPG, Fragmented will have a smaller scope. It will still be an online game, though, but also offer the option to play offline or host your own servers. There will be PvP as well as PvE servers and options. Everything that is currently in the game is listed on the Steam page under “About This Game“.

“Everything we have listed in About This Game below are currently implemented and functional in the game.”

If this sounds interesting to you, I would carefully recommend this game. Carefully, of course, as there is always a risk involved with games in Early Access. But so far, everything we have heard and seen from the developers makes me very optimistic that they are dedicated, hard-working and that we will see a finished game one day.

Atlas Reactor has started its Closed Beta. In the last Open Alpha phase, everybody could just sign up and play, but now you need to buy access if you want to play during the Closed Beta. Before anybody asks: Yes, there will be a wipe after Closed Beta, so no progress will be kept during this stage. I have taken a look at the different pre-purchase packages here. Price starts at 10 €, so it’s not too expensive if you want to check out the game during Closed Beta. You will also get that amount in in-game Credits once the game launches. The game itself will be free to play.

Wildstar New Tutorial_Dominion

Fragmented is not the only game making its appearance on Steam. Wildstar finally emerged on there as well. There is no release date listed other than “2016”. We know that they recently tested a new tutorial, so I assume this one will have to be polished and finished first before they start there. It would at least be a very wise move. They already overhauled the character creation procedure which is now a lot more intuitive to handle. So a new tutorial can only be good for the game, too. From what I have seen of the new tutorial on the Public Test Realm, it explains things for people new to MMOs, but more specifically, it explains how Wildstar works. Right after starting your first “test fights”, you are told how enemies are vulnerable for a short time if you interrupted one of their abilities and – and this is something I don’t think I’ve seen in other MMOs so far – you are then taken onto a housing plot and are shown how the housing works in Wildstar (remember: Housing gives you bonuses like rested XP, so even if you don’t care about housing in general, you may want to use it only for those bonuses and features). I only briefly looked at the new tutorial, but so far, it seemed to be well done. Let’s hope that the launch on Steam will bring in more customers, because I really like this game and would hate to see it go the way Vanguard did or Star Wars Galaxies…

“Bookahneer’s Geekwatch” is the place where we take a look at all those little pieces of gaming news that have attracted our interest and/or talk about what’s recently been in the spotlight of other fansites.

Sunken – First Impressions Review

Sunken Start ScreenIn general, I really despise permadeath in games and stay away from games where I am forced to play with this feature. With my playtime being limited due to my job and other stuff I also want to do in my free time, it just seems so frustrating having to start all over again because I made one single mistake. There is no way I would ever play a game with permadeath. And while I love action RPGs, I never even considered playing in “hardcore” mode which usually means permadeath for your character. Having to run all over the zones again? No way!

And yet here I am: in “Sunken“. Sunken is made by a very small developer team consisting of only two people. Now, to be honest, “permadeath” isn’t 100 % permanent here. Yes, your character dies and you have to start at the beginning again. Your levels, your items together with your inventory and your learned recipes are gone upon death. But when you die, you get to keep your unlocked abilities, so there is some sort of progression, after all.

This of course means that your character will be stronger than before. You get a wider choice of abilities or upgrades to your already known abilities. Since there is no character customization at all, you won’t really feel like you just lost your character. But you cannot customize the look of your character, so he (yes, you can only play with a male character) always looks exactly the same. So it actually feels a bit like “respawning”. But since you lost all your possessions, it comes with a hefty price! So it’s in between permadeath and death-then-respawn as you know from MMOs. Since there are no options to change the look of your character, this also means that I am not that attached to my character and don’t really care when he dies. On the other hand, from a storytelling aspect, this isn’t good either. I would like to feel more connected to my character. I would at least hope that there would be some sort of customization later on like choosing a hair style or hair colour (granted he ever does get hair).

In order to learn new abilities, you will have to unlock them first. It’s a multiple-steps process: You first need to drop the recipe book for an ability. You can learn that recipe by right-clicking the recipe book. Then you need to find a crafting station (an anvil). So far – and really, I didn’t get far when it comes to the maps – I found them right before the entrance to the next level. You need to get there first, obviously, then you can craft the recipe when you’ve also got the materials for it. The recipe then disappears from your list of known recipes. Use the item you crafted to unlock the ability permanently. Once unlocked, the next dropped recipe book for the same ability will give you the unlock for the higher tier of that ability. But if you die before you reach the end of the level, then that recipe book and all learned recipes are lost. Only the crafted and unlocked ability itself counts.

The game also has a story which unfolds not via quests but through books which you can find on the different floors of the maps. Those books aren’t drops. They are quite big books standing around. Yes, this means you have to read a lot… or wait for the voice-over to read it to you. I usually read much faster myself, though. There is also background music which has an eerie tone to it and fits quite nicely to the whole atmosphere and the graphics. But over time, I imagine the music could get a bit boring, unless it changes when you get to different maps in the game… did I already mention I didn’t get far yet? ;)

If you are like me and lack the skills needed to orientate yourself, then you will feel just as lost as I did. In the beginning there was a point where I did not even notice that I had run back towards the beginning of the level instead of progressing further to the next one. There are no maps or minimaps here, no compass for orientation either. When you die, you start at the very beginning of level 1 again, though. So sooner or later, you will most certainly recognize at least level 1. :p Also, when you log back into the game, you start at the beginning of a map with respawned mobs. Come to think of it, this is actually quite nice. For one, it lets you grind some more experience (although I am not certain whether mobs scale with your level) and maybe you even find a nice recipe book. And if you ever do get lost, that’s how you find the beginning again. :p Each level is identical, meaning that level 1 will always look the same. But the mobs you encounter will be random. Some structures can be destroyed, but so far, I did not find any use for it other than that it looks nice.

I am not sure yet whether all mobs drop aggro after a while and how that works. Some did not follow me all the way back to the entrance of the level while others did chase me until there. It may also be that “special” mobs (with names or elite mobs) chase you all the way down the hall while normal mobs won’t. Thankfully, my regeneration rate was high enough to survive the battle that followed. But yeah, here’s a warning: If you get low on health and don’t have health potions anymore, you may have to run and hope your health bar regenerates in the meantime.

Last but not least, at the end of a level, you will encounter a boss. This is on an extra map, so you can’t run away or hide. The first boss was no problem while the second one caused my first death in this game. I had run out of healing potions before I had learned the mechanics of the boss. To be honest, I am still not 100 % sure I understood them. But I’m willing to give it another try… once I actually get to the end of level 2, that is. Yes, you may laugh now. Loud and long. I am a n00b. :p

But as you may be able to infer here, I actually quite enjoy this game so far! The regular price is $9.99€ and it’s in Steam Early Access. The price was certainly cheap enough for me to risk getting another early access game and so far, I haven’t been disappointed. Sometimes, it feels a bit fiddly, though. I once accidentally dropped a stack of materials on the ground instead of putting them into the crafting window (it lands on the floor as a loot bag, so no harm done!). And I quite often misclick when trying to pick up loot bags. Other than that, it seemed to run smoothly.

First Impressions Review: Gremlins Inc.

(Update: They have added the “save last session” feature with their update on January 22, 2016)

Steam’s Winter Sale just finished and throughout it, you could gain Steam trading cards for looking at the “Explore” queue of the store. I like getting those cards to sell them. Hey, even a couple of cents are nice to have! Most of the time, I clicked through, not being interested in the games (“recommended because the game is on sale” – Oookay? – “Recommended, because this game is popular!” – So what?). But one game caught my attention. I admit, it was mostly because of the face of a gremlin. :p I added Gremlins Inc. to my wishlist, then forgot about it again until the last day of the sale. I then looked at a few videos and decided that I want this game. It’s still in Early Access and was 10 % off, which is a good deal in my opinion. I mean, it’s on sale and not even released yet!

I had also looked at the Steam reviews before buying the game. One negative review said that the game lacked strategy. So far, I think that’s not true at all. Of course, it’s not strategy like the Civilization games, but it’s exactly as you would play a board game. When I tried to get into the game and wandered aimlessly, I lost. As soon as I started to understand more and tried to follow a certain goal, I won a match! Maybe “tactical” would be a better term. There is also lots of luck involved and some cunning, as you can try to hinder the other players and be annoying to them.

(Update, January 22 2016: This paragraph does not apply anymore. They added the auto-save feature for the latest single-player game with today’s update!)  The (for me!) one big negative part about the game first, before I continue: It does not currently have the option to save a game. As games can last quite some time (e.g., about two hours), this, of course, is a problem. The developers said on the forums that it’s tricky or difficult to implement, but it is on their roadmap. I remember the developers of “Folk Tale” saying the same. Over time, the save feature got implemented and was buggy, while still being very limited (only one save game at a time). By now, it works as you would expect with several slots to save several games and no bugs left. So I assume (and hope ^^) that it will be like this here as well. Other than that, all basic features are in the game and I did not experience any bugs. The tutorial will be implemented later on. The text boxes explaining the game are doing an okay-enough job currently to get you started. I jumped into my first match after the short tutorial (only against AI, not against other players) and felt lost, until I saw that there are more text boxes popping up whenever something happened that needed an explanation. So, even without a “proper” tutorial campaign, the game does manage to explain its features to you.

Gremlins Inc.

As I said, it’s a board game. You play as a gremlin. As far as I could see, you cannot choose an avatar, unfortunately. Not that it matters. It’s just your player’s icon. Still, it would be nice. So, you’re a gremlin and the others (up to 5 players or AI) are gremlins as well. You can choose different victory conditions (e.g., get 20 or 30 “gears”, play a certain amount of rounds or a certain amount of time and the player with the most gears wins the game). The game itself consists of one board with several paths between “main buildings” like the dump or the casino. Every field of the path and the main buildings have a certain “feature” (e.g., paying your taxes or receiving income). Some of those get activated as soon as you pass that field, others are only activated when you step onto it and end your move there.

Gremlins Inc. The Casino

Your main goal is to get as many gears as you can (or as are needed for the victory). You have 6 cards and whenever you use one, you get a new one. The deck will be reshuffled once all cards were used by the players. Here’s the twist with the cards: You can either use them when standing on the board game fields (the lower left icon indicates which field you can use them on) or you use them for moving around the board (the upper left dice shows you the amount of fields you can move). I have often found myself out of options (well, good options anyway), because I wanted to save cards to exchange them for gears or other nice rewards, but at the same time, I was left with no good options to move around on the board. For example, passing a red field marked as “misfortune” will give you said “misfortune” which is a card (from a different deck than the regular 6 cards you have). It will always have negative consequences. Sometimes only for you, sometimes for all players. Stepping and ending your move on that field will let one random other player choose between two Misfortune cards. So, you can safely assume that out of those two, you will get the worse one. :p

Gremlins Inc Misfortunes

And with that, I already introduced you to the “annoy the players” part. The board itself already does a quite good job at it. For most cards that can give you gears, you will also need to spend a certain amount of money in order to play them on the appropriate fields. At the same time, the game’s fields and the “misfortunes” that happen along the way can cause you to lose quite a lot of money. I mentioned “rewards” for cards above. You don’t always get gears when you land on a special field and own a card for it. Sometimes, you also get a reward (e.g., money, votes which come in handy when the election for governor is happening, or other features) – or you get something mean to play on the other players! I think it is comparable to “Mensch ärgere dich nicht“, but with much better graphics. :p I regularly get send to jail by the other players, for example. In there, you roll a die to determine how long you’re going to stay there. It’s not like in Monopoly, where you can’t do much. In Gremlins Inc., you get to decide whether your behaviour will be good, neutral or bad. You also “level up” in jail by serving time in there and there is also a deck of cards which will give you certain events. You get one card per turn. For example, “get out of jail immediately” or “escape from jail”, but also “pay the bribe to get one less turn of jail time”. Some events are for good behaviour, some are for bad behaviour. If you chose neutral, you will get a card from either of those two. You can choose your behaviour at the start of each turn that you are in jail.

Gremlins_Inc Neutral Jail Event

I have not yet played against humans. I admit, I like the atmosphere much better if the enemies are computer-controlled. :p There are apparently ladders/rankings and even tournaments planned or going on. Additionally, something I really love: You cannot directly chat with the other players. You can send emotes and pre-made messages like “Oops!” or “Be right back!”. I’ve seen this in Hearthstone already and I think it worked well. Much less to worry about when it comes to harassment.

After the sales discount and the money I got for selling the trading cards, I spent 7,29 € on the game. It currently costs 9,99 € on Steam (GOG will come later, I think). Is the game worth the full price? It depends (yes, that’s always my answer… :p). Watch one or two matches on YouTube or so, and if you like what you see and if you think you can be happy even if the game never gets a save option, then I think yes, it’s definitely worth it. Otherwise, wait for a sale or wait for them to implement the save function first.