By Mento 1 Comments
|01/12/12 - Ballistic||05/12/12 - Mutant Mudds||09/12/12 - Slydris|
|02/12/12 - Band of Bugs||06/12/12 - Oniken||10/12/12 - Soulcaster|
|03/12/12 - Escape Goat||07/12/12 - Outpost Kaloki||11/12/12 - Squids|
|04/12/12 - MiniFlake||08/12/12 - Reprisal||12/12/12 - UnEpic|
December the Seventh
The source: The Ninja Lightning Pack (Indie Royale Bundle #10)
The pre-amble: Yeah, I'm picking on NinjaBee again. I figure it can take another unflattering pseudo-review, trained as it is in the arts of shinobee and beeshido by its- (no, no, no, I'm not falling into this punny hornet's nest again). Outpost Kaloki is the other game in the Ninja Lightning Pack that wasn't already available on Steam and is a real-time strategy sim where the player must outfit a space station with all the amenities it needs to be a successful money-grubbing cosmic fixture. A lot of the time, the player needs to focus on a specific task and achieve it before a time limit expires, such as generating enough power, making enough money or building a certain structure. While not available on Steam, an improved sequel is available on Xbox Live Arcade.
The playthrough: Outpost Kaloki, like Band of Bugs, isn't a terribly offensive example of its particular genre. It's just very, very bland. We're talking about essentially breaking a game genre down to its basic foundations and then not really building on them too much. If I wanted to introduce someone to, say, Theme Park or SimCity, but completely forgot that those games had tutorials or leaning curves, I might suggest they play Outpost Kaloki first so they have some idea of what is required of them.
Which is I suppose Kaloki's biggest issue: Unlike Band of Bugs' Strategy RPG, which are still relatively scant on the PC, the system is lousy with excellent sim games. I mean, we've had at least two - count 'em, two - game design maestros that have been hard at work at them for what feels like decades. Hell, we just saw a reimagining of a rather good strategy sim slash strategy RPG just in the past few months. It's getting harder to recommend these games, except perhaps as extremely cheap, neophyte-friendly gateways to the better, deeper games of their respective genres. Maybe that's enough. I don't expect anyone - especially of the casual persuasion - to pour 40 hours into mastering Sim Golf over an hour or so of something simple like Outpost Kaloki, even though they probably ought to.
I guess I should talk about the game itself a bit more before I'm done being a Dismissive Denzel over here. Outpost Kaloki is what I call a "speed sim", in that there's an impetus to the game dictated by an ever-present ticking clock. There's no point spending time making sure your space station is perfect; there's little spare time to do so, and there's little in the way of customization anyway. A player might take a circuitous route from the critical path to success, but reaching the target is generally a cut and dry process if you pay a modicum of attention. The goal might change per scenario, but you'll still be building the cashflow-generating structures everyone is asking for, building power generators and repair bots to ensure everything's working and then hitting the fast forward button until you've earned enough money to continue the cycle with more expensive structures. You can keep building new things on available expansion points, or sell older ones and replace them with improved versions, but you'll probably still do fine making either decision. It might be the case the further you get with the scenarios, the more freedom you have to choose your own path to success, but I suspect it'll be the same process each time but with shorter and stricter time limits. After a while it just kind of lost its verve. I guess it ought to be said that I've never really been a fan of this sort of "real-time strategy but now there's customers instead of orcs" fast-paced stress-generators, so it may well be every bit as enjoyable as its retail-release contemporaries. Doesn't seem like there's enough variation here to make that ring true, however.
The verdict: Ah. Well. After playing the game for a not-inconsiderable two to three hours, I quit out of it right as a new scenario began to start writing it up. Apparently the game doesn't auto-save? And there's no prompts to manually do so after beating each scenario? So I guess I'm done with it.