Review: Galaxy of Trian22 Aug 2016 1
Review: Galaxy of Trian
Released 12 Jul 2016
Editor's Note: The comments and criticisms in this review are correct up to 16th August, 2016. Despite repeated communication with the development team, we were unable to resolve a lingering issue in the multiplayer which prevented us from playing matches online. We are aware the developers have been making several fixes over the course of this month to try and fix multiplayer, which seem to have worked for some people but not others. As Editor-in-Chief I made the decision to have Mark finish reviewing the game without multiplayer time, so he could move on to other projects. If and when multiplayer is eventually fixed, we may revise this review.
Galaxy of Trian is a turn-based tile-laying experience based off of the original boardgame conceived as a kickstarter project. A small and mostly unknown team called Grey Wizard Innovative were set with the task of porting the space-battling Carcasonne-like onto mobile – so how does it fare?
As noted, GoT uses tiles, which are triangle shaped and double sided, and must match up dependent on what tiles have already been laid before. Scoring happens when you close off either a nebula, space area, or planet system, and the points you get are determined by how many parts of that particular type of tile were laid down before being closed off (if there are four parts of a nebula, you get four points). So there is a risk in trying to build up parts of the galaxy to get the most points, but making sure you close off areas before your opponents do. It plays like a giant puzzle, with you trying to match up the right tiles in the right places.
It all works smoothly enough: you tap on the tile you wish to play with and red outlines show you where you are able to place the piece down. You can either drag the tile piece over or tap on the empty red space, which doesn’t always register your command.
It has elements of risk and reward; you have the risk of picking between two tiles at the start of each turn without knowing what is on the back of each until you select one, meaning you’re never certain what you have to play with. Sometimes the game plays fair as the tile you need is in front of you, and sometimes it does not. There is strategic thinking needed, knowing when to close off areas, but you’re not always given the right tiles to work with, so there is frustration when your opponent links up a planetary system and gets twenty points - but hey, it is your own fault, you had a chance to close it off three turns earlier.
You can use emissaries to create a stranglehold on a particular area; these are small icons you can lay down on top of tiles. For example, if you have more emissaries in a contained nebula area than your opponent, you collect the points, but if you lay the last nebulae piece and the other player has more emissaries in that area, they gain the points instead. It works in theory and mostly in execution, but it’s not explained or shown in practice particularly well, plus the icons themselves are hard to separate from other icons like the space and research stations. This is a little frustrating as these tools are often the key to victory, and the AI has no issue about using them while you are left in the dark.
The overall production of the game is a bit clunky and feels unfinished. The background images feel stretched, the audio dips in and out at random, transitions through the menu do not feel smooth, and most importantly as of the time of this review, the multiplayer is still busted – which is the key one seeing as it is based off of a boardgame, and though it comes with a local player option, passing around a tablet simply makes you wish for the actual physical version of the game.
And try as I might, I have simply been unable to get a multiplayer game going. You are given the option to select a network game, which you can do multiple times leading to a list of different players available. You can also play several players at the same time – kind of like playing several games of chess at once. Problem is, nothing happens after that. This is most likely down to one of two reasons: either the install base is so low that no one is ever online at the same time as me to accept my request, or multiplayer is busted.
I even borrowed my girlfriend’s iPad to see if I could register a multiplayer game myself and that has proved to be impossible. I have added myself as a friend to only sit there for an eternity as the screen fails to register any attempt at starting a game. The developers have been as helpful as they can be, and there have been several patches, but I am beyond perplexed why the multiplayer mode continues to be busted. And it is a massive shame, because the aforementioned chess-like scenario is perfect for a game like this. So I do hope that any and all teething problems are solved, because there is solid potential here.
In the end this leaves you with the single-player campaign, spread over ten missions. It works fine, though the tutorial feels lacking in execution, with me having to look online to fully comprehend the rules. It also crashed on a number of occasions, which is inexcusable for a game that doesn’t have a whole lot to it graphically or mechanically. On top of that, the game managed to get stuck in a loop where it would repeat the last section of one mission (which I had lost) and the only way out of it was to restart the game.
It all just feels very rough, like there was still three to six months left of development time to polish the overall product – which might be the best way to describe Galaxy of Trian: it’s a great game, but not a 'finished' one.