Mento's May Madness More: #18 - Galactic Arms Race

May the Eighteenth

The game: Evolutionary Games's Galactic Arms Race

The source: The Be Mine Anniversary Bundle from Groupees.

The pre-amble: Galactic Arms Race is a shoot 'em up/RPG in which a player can accept missions, destroy enemies and level up their various ship functions and find new weapons in a series of incrementally higher level sectors of contested space. The real draw is the game's procedurally generated weapon systems: many thousands are generated on the fly by the computer and fire various particles moving along various arcs and causing various damage to enemies. The player can also direct the evolution of their own particle weapons to some extent should they come across a particularly useful pattern.

The playthrough: Galactic Arms Race is an interesting little tech demo of a game. It's clearly built around this fancy schmancy procedural generation tool devised in a university lab that appears to have had this perfunctory space sim RPG built around it. As implied by that previous sentence, the game itself is a little basic, though it's certainly appealing enough in the way that all RPGs driven by loot and inundated with numbers and statistics tend to be from a pure Skinner box perspective. That there's some shooter action and strategy involved certainly helps too.

Weapon #2 is currently Hot Rainbow Death. Or, as the game calls it, "Procedurally Generated Neuralium Isotope 1029". Their name is punchier.

Honestly, I can't really make heads or tails of the weapons. The rest of the game is made simple enough by the way the game kindly explains its many features to you via a series of tutorial missions - each gives you a decent boost of experience and you're pretty far into the game by the time they finally stop showing up. If you start tinkering with the various algorithms for the weapons you've found, you get hit with graphs and gradients and mathematical terminology and it's all actually quite fascinating, if a little impenetrable. It's something I'm sure @brad would be curious about, given that it combines his twin loves of space and inscrutable video game systems.

Ultimately though, the game is just a little too barebones for its own good. Perhaps obviously, since it's intended to be the tech demo for some really intriguing coding that I don't doubt will be better featured in more full-fledged games from the studio (or from whomever wishes to use it, should it all go unpatented) in the future. Hell, I can't completely deny GAR's addictiveness either, and all the particles from your weapons and those of your antagonists do make for some really intense visuals.

The verdict: Eh, maybe. These loot RPGs can easily become black holes time-wise.

(PSA: Be Mine 8 is currently available for another week, at least.)

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