Posts Tagged: Sci-fi

Pocket Tactics’ Games of the Month: August 2015

Pardon our dust.

Pardon our dust.

It has been a very long while indeed since we had Pocket Tactics Games of the Month. Picking favourite games from arbitrary calendar periods is always a bit contentious but when Neumann briefly converted to TimeCubism over the summer we couldn’t even agree on the definition of “month”, much less decide what the good games from one were.

Anyway. Things have calmed down enough that we can resume regular service on Games of the Month. Let’s see what the PT writers’ dungeon thinks of the games from the last lunar cycle (or so).

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The Huntmaster’s Handbook: Rob Lemon’s Galactic Keep strategy guide

For cryin' out loud, people STOP DYING

For cryin’ out loud, people STOP DYING

The wonderfully original Galactic Keep is more than just a pretty, multi-mandibled face — it’s also an RPG whose combat requires a little more nous than might be apparent at first. In the interest of preserving the temporal integrity of this timeline, I asked Galactic Keep creator Rob Lemon to write us some tips on keeping your Coalition agents alive. There’s a heck of a lot going on under the hood of this game, and Rob lays a lot of it bare for us. –O.F.

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Danger close: 24 minutes of Space Grunts’ explosive turn-based dungeon crawling

He's just a grunt! A SPACE GRUNT

I believe that Corporal Hicks has authority here.

Space Grunts is not a film about Danny Trejo and Tommy Lee Jones having a conversation in orbit. Though I’d watch that. No, Space Grunts is a game from Dutch dev OrangePixel, who made his bones with the sort of arcade action games we tend not to cover around here.

Space Grunts is entirely more our sort of thing: it’s a sci-fi turn-based roguelike that reminds me a bit of Chunsoft’s Mystery Dungeon games. You can see OrangePixel’s arcade pedigree in the game’s weapon effects and exuberant explosions  — there might be a gas leak somewhere in that dungeon.

This game is coming to PC later this year with Android and iOS versions to follow in 2016. You can pre-order the PC version now at a hefty discount.

OrangePixel just posted an extended gameplay video of a development build that will let you avoid work for the next 24 minutes, provided you turn the sound down. Check it out after the jump.

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A Song for Galactic Keep

"Schematic" means "utterly devoid of artistic merit". In case that wasn't clear.

My maps for D&D were rather more… schematic.

I always preferred folders in school. Three-ring binders seemed needlessly baroque, loud, and treacherous (I must have been pinched by one once, and have ever after been prejudiced against the entire race, like my grandfather who would never buy a Japanese car after being wounded on Guadalcanal). But there was one product I was ashamed to find utterly alluring: the Trapper Keeper.

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To somewhat reluctantly go: Star Trek Timelines tries to redeem an ill-served franchise this fall

We'll give it a Troi.

We’ll give it a Troi.

We’re big Star Trek fans here at PT HQ high atop Mount Hexmap — just look at the three-dimensional chess set that Clancy and Neumann have ginned up out of old juice boxes and gruel bowls down in the Writers’ Dungeon. But it would be an unfortunate falsehood to say that we’re big fans of Star Trek games.

Star Trek‘s track record with mobile games is uglier than the grotty oil slick that killed Tasha Yar. Last year there was a nostalgia-driven hamster wheel masquerading as a game called Star Trek Trexels. Back in 2013 there was the insipid Triple Triad clone Star Trek Rivals — the less said about which the better.

On the bright side, there’s nowhere to go but up for the newly-announced Star Trek Timelines. It’s due out this autumn for iOS and Android from developers Disruptor Beam, who were responsible the free-to-play title Game of Thrones Ascent earlier this year. GoT Ascent was a very deft handling of the license — the game truly felt like a part of the show’s universe. But it was also almost entirely devoid of anything like real gameplay. It was a timer game that had more in common with Cow Clicker than Crusader Kings, and if I was hellbent on saying something nice about it I would call it “almost interesting”.

So set your expectation phasers to the lowest setting for Star Trek Timelines, which looks very pretty in the trailer after the jump. You’ll note that the trailer (which features the always delightful John de Lancie) talks a lot about atmosphere and a sense of “being there” whilst avoiding discussion of gameplay entirely. Were I a cynic I would suggest that that’s because there isn’t any gameplay to speak of, but I’m not a cynic. Star Trek Timelines might be just fantastic.

Anything’s possible.

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Warhammer 40K: Freeblade is the Space Marine Godzilla game I didn’t know I wanted

Imma put the Compton swap meet by the White House

Imma put the Compton swap meet by the White House

I’m going to bend two of our most sacred strictures here: Freeblade is both an action game and a free-to-play game. I audibly groaned when I read that latter point in an email last night, but the trailer below is exciting enough that I’m willing to believe… for now.

Freeblade isn’t a fan campaign to get Wesley Snipes released from federal prison. No, it’s a Games Workshop-licensed action game where you’re an Imperial Knight stomping Chaos tanks and hordes of Orks. Imperial Knights are a new on me (they’re a recent addition to the lore) but they seem to be one-man mechas the size of a small office block. The game will come with a 40-mission single-player campaign and daily live events and the control scheme is something like Panzer Dragoon‘s, we’re told. I love the trailer, which has a pint-sized Godzilla in Space vibe to it.

I grilled developers Pixel Toys about the free-to-play business, and they assured me that it wouldn’t be insidious. You can pay for cosmetic customization bits or to unlock weapons early, which leaves one to hope that it’ll be something like the tolerable model used by World of Tanks Blitz.

Freeblade is coming to “mobile and tablets” (presumably both iOS and Android) this autumn. Keep your eye on Pixel Toys’ Twitter for more details, and definitely watch the trailer after the jump because it’s pretty neat-o.

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This isn’t the darkest timeline anymore: Galactic Keep submitted to Apple for review

Here comes your (hideously mutated) man.

Here comes your (hideously mutated) man.

Back in 2009 when Galactic Keep was first announced, NASA’s New Horizons probe was only halfway to Pluto. In the time it has taken for Gilded Skull Games’ inimitable pen-and-paper-styled RPG to complete development, you could have taken a trip to a moon of Jupiter and LARPed your own Galactic Keep.

After years of on and off development, Galactic Keep: Dice Battles is finally sitting in Apple’s approvals queue. The wait, I’m pretty sure, will have been worth it. The preview version of the game that I played last year was a very rewarding turn-based RPG that felt utterly unique. It’s almost disturbingly detailed. The number of man-hours spent on this game makes me want to have creator Rob Lemon involuntarily committed. He’s obviously a loon. But the game plays wonderfully — or at least it did last year. Fans of Rodeo Games‘ exquisitely hand-crafted tactical games are going to feel right at home with it.

Rob Lemon tells me that the last year has been spent on obsessive balancing, as well as adding new maps, new secret locations and items, iCloud saving (so you can play the same game across multiple devices), and a full technical Q&A done with a 3rd party to ensure that Galactic Keep is as bug-free as possible on launch day.

There’s a hot-off-the-presses trailer after the jump, and my extensive hands-on preview from last July should still be mostly accurate. We’ll let you know when Galactic Keep is ready to go live, but it should be within the next fortnight.

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Your watch is about to begin: Sentinel Command out on iPad next week

Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Council.

Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Council.

Sentinel Command–the sci-fi strategy title from the makers of PT‘s favorite indie wargame of 2014–is almost upon us. Did you play Heroes of the Revolution last year? If not, I am filled with the deepest, most lugubrious pity for you, friend. HotR was the most original wargame I’ve played in some time, and because of that my anticipation of Sentinel Command can be measured seismically.

Creator John Ellenberger got in touch to say that the game is currently being gently caressed by Apple’s review team, and barring incident will be released next Wednesday at midnight. Sentinel Command (which we first revealed here last month) is a game that casts you as the heir to the throne in a feudal science fiction realm, where you are tasked by your father the Duke of Sedaris with the defense of a critical territory. You assign officers and ships to squadrons, upgrade your fleet, intercept enemy raids and give them what for in turn-based battles. If you succeed, you’ll be able to aid your war allies with your province’s precious resources — and if you fail you will disappoint your dad.

I’ve very, very briefly gotten to mess around with a preview build of Sentinel Command and I was struck by how good it all looks. Screenshots don’t do justice to the look and feel of the game, which is really nifty and infinitely better than the roughshod art from Heroes of the Revolution. There’s a new trailer for the game after the jump.

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