I just bought this as it started getting some talk this morning due to Rohrer throwing a couple thousand dollars into the mix as a promotional stunt. Hey, getting paid real cash money to mess around with a video-game from a respected developer, sure why not? So I bought the Alpha and played about an hour of it.
Now, I know, I played one hour and am about to pass some judgments on it, but here goes.
1) This game has no art design. It seems so function-first in its visual design that it immediately seemed low-fi in a bad way. That there are no animations really, it is a frame-by-frame game, suddenly made the way the trailer was presented make sense and made me feel kind of ripped off.
2) The "house" you design can never actually look like anything approaching a real house, they are weird death dungeons your "family" happens to live in. Now, the game is in alpha so maybe he'll flower up some of your customization options later, let you put in normal house things like, you know, a dishwasher, a furnace, a water heater, etc. This point really infuriates me, actually, as he talks about the attachment you have to the house you design and the importance of feeling that sense of loss but I see that NEVER happening if all of your houses look like gross, barren warehouses with electric floors everywhere. They make no sense at all and it totally undermines the core conceit of the game.
3) The build phase is boring. There is no music during this phase of the game and there is no way to simply load in the last house design you made in order to tweak it, or any such thing. Yes yes, the importance of feeling loss, etc, but...why would I keep playing then? There is nothing for me to do outside of continuing to rob houses so its not like I can actually enjoy the big score I just stole.
4) Your family are literally just objects. Why would you become emotionally attached to static crates, essentially?
So...yeah. The core ideas of every level you play having been designed by a real human somewhere and the in-game economy being produced by the player-base are solid but the way they are expressed in the gameplay leaves tons to be desired. And this may just be a personal issue due to resolution settings or something but this game is played in a window and it is JUST big enough to the point where any descriptive text regarding the objects in the game is just off-screen for me. Definitely not helping my personal experience with the game but I still find some core aspects of its design detrimental to the thematic content Rohrer is reaching for. The game is mechanics first to the point where it feels EXTREMELY mechanical. My family isn't a family, they are objects I am tasked with protecting. My home isn't a home, its a dungeon. The world of the game is fueled by home invasions, thus negating any real-world relevance of the trauma associated with such an event. It just fundamentally makes no sense and I don't like it.