First Looks// Post-PAX Impressions: Star Crawlers, Stealth Inc. 2, Tumblestone

Posted 4 Oct 2014 10:30 by
Sometimes Chris gets so busy the rest of us start to sweat just from following him on Twitter. He dug into a LOT of games over the course of PAX Prime 2014, and over the next week or so we're going to be bringing you his impressions. For Part 7 we've got Star Crawlers, Stealth Inc. 2 and Tumblestone...

Star Crawlers by Juggernaut Games

The arrival of Legend of Grimrock has apparently brought in its wake a trail of first-person turn-based dungeon exploration games. Might and Magic X Legacy appeared earlier this year and now Star Crawlers is set to grace many a computer screen once it arrives in Early Access form in November 2014.

Star Crawlers takes place sometime in the far flung future where humans rub shoulders with aliens on a regular basis. The core of the game is set on a derelict colony ship, the Stella Marin. The player takes control of four characters who are a team of freelance salvage collectors who work for various corporations that essentially run interstellar commerce. They have entered a vessel in the hope of collecting of some rare cargo and then getting the hell out of there. A quick smash and grab mission, what could possibly go wrong?

Like many RPGs, Star Crawlers requires the player to guide their team of four protagonists simultaneously, with each movement and action handled by all of the characters as if they were a single entity. It's a little disconcerting at first. In this age of the lone-wolf hero seemingly saving the world with little effort, why do they need to drag three other people with them?

It's because at its heart Star Crawlers is a party-driven RPG that is not too dissimilar to the average JRPG save only the perspective. The party members do act independently when combat is initiated an initiative-based system comes into play, with the portraits of the characters mixed with the creatures they are attacking in initiative order.

Those familiar with pen and paper RPGs will be familiar with this very common system. It enables players to plan moves ahead as they know when each character will act in any given combat encounter. Some actions require some time to prepare so when they are selected their actions are delayed until their turn rolls around during combat.

Character's abilities don't just come into play when they are in combat. In many instances there are some puzzles that can be solved in a variety of ways depending on the make-up of the party. If there is a tech expert amongst them, they can attempt to hack locked electronic doors and barriers rather than blowing them up or hunting around for a key.

I managed to get some time with Star Crawlers at PAX Prime 2014 and I was really impressed with how it played. It has taken the core essence of first-person RPGs and brought them up to date with current generation visuals and audio effects and music. While playing I couldn't help be drawn back to playing games like Captive and Hired Guns on my Amiga many eons ago. Juggernaut Games has done an excellent job with Star Crawlers and I look forward to its eventual full release sometime in 2015.

Stealth Inc. 2 by Curve Digital

While trudging my way around to the expo hall I found myself in the rear of Level 2 of the Washington State Convention Center where the hand-held lounge is located. It is here the diseased ridden beanbags are located and upon spying them I beat a hasty retreat for I had no desire to pick up the infamous PAX-POX.

As I did so I stumbled upon a row of Wii U demo booths, one of which was showing off Stealth Inc. 2, the sequel to Stealth Inc, which was in turn was once called Stealth Bastards. Intrigued, I made my over to the booth and I'm happy to say my flight from the pox ridden beanbags was not in vain.

Like the previous games, Stealth Inc. 2 has you controlling a little clone fellow who finds himself awakened when he shouldn't be. He then starts to make a escape from the installation with the unwitting help of his fellow clones who are slowly shutting down for the day. Each level is made up of a series of interconnected puzzles that can only be solved by working with the other clones while trying not to be detected.
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