It is time for another ACTUAL Impressions post! Again, these are games that are either unfinished (such as games in Steam’s Early Access program) or that I simply did not want to cover for my ACTUAL Review series.
The developers that made Hex Two are back, this time with another minimalistic puzzle game called Achromatic. While the developers have definitely made some improvements over their last title, Achromatic falls down the same pit as Hex Two does when it comes to actual puzzle solving.
Before getting into that though, I will say that one definite improvement is the addition of an undo button. This makes the puzzle-solving much less frustrating, especially later on when the puzzles become more complex and time-consuming. Being able to undo a simple mistake or misclick is a godsend in a game like this.
However, the main problem here being that there is little logic actually involved in solving each puzzle. After a certain point (around level 25 or so), it becomes much more practical to just use trial-and-error to solve each puzzle, rather than actually trying to logically figure out the solution. The gameplay devolved into me testing certain moves, seeing if they worked, and undoing them if they did not. Some may actually be fine with this type of puzzle design, but for me, it simply stops being fun at that point and feels more like a chore to complete each puzzle.
As such, I cannot recommend Achromatic. Despite some nice quality of life upgrades, the game simply loses its appeal after a certain point. The puzzles eventually become more reliant on trial-and-error than actual logic and, at that point, are no longer fun to complete.
Between the Stars
Between the Stars is a space simulator that is currently only available as a prologue demo, with a full release slated for the first quarter of 2019. However, even as a demo, the game shows promise. It plays well, looks fantastic, and I encountered few technical issues despite the game’s pre-release state.
The game’s biggest draw for me would have to be just how good it looks. Even though I was not running the game at max settings, it still looked absolutely stunning, especially so in motion. The amount of detail put into all of the debris and such scattered about really lends itself well to making a more immersive experience.
On top of that, the game also plays pretty well. I had no issues picking up the controls, maneuvering about, using my ship’s many abilities, and navigating the game’s various menus. The menus may not be the best in terms of design, but they are at least better than some I have seen in similar games.
However, what really needs work is the quest design. Of the quests that can be completed in the demo, many of them are quite repetitive. For example, there are two quests in a row where I had to fly to a certain objective, inspect and/or pick up something, fly somewhere else, blow up some enemy ships, and fly back to base. It may have been fun the first time, but I hope that the full game strays away from such repetitive quest design.
Overall though, I had a positive experience with the game and would recommend it. The game looks great and plays well, but hopefully the quests are cleaned up in time for the game’s full release. The demo is freely available on Steam, so check it out if you are interested.
Valthirian Arc: Hero School Story
Valthirian Arc is a game that combines school management, top-down combat, RPG elements, and a cute art style all into one small package. Yet despite this interesting mix of genres, the game falters in just about every area.
A large portion of my time with the game was spent going through missions, which is where the game’s top-down combat takes place. Unfortunately, these missions are extremely repetitive, all featuring some form of “kill this” or “collect/inspect that”. The combat boils down to just spamming one button and occasionally pressing another to pop a special ability, so there is not much to look forward to there either. In order to make any progress, the player has to go through these missions several times, so they quickly lose their appeal.
Outside of the combat, the actual academy management is rather average. The player is only able to place new rooms and buildings on predetermined lots that unlock with higher academy levels, so there is very little in terms of customization. On top of that, the game has some awful camera controls. Even though the controls menu stated that I could use W and S to move up and down, the camera would ignore those inputs, only allowing me to move left and right using A and D. If I wanted to move up and down I had to left click and drag. This is likely a bug that will be fixed with time, but I fail to see how such a bug made it through basic QA.
As much as I wanted to like Valthirian Arc, I simply cannot recommend it. The combat and management aspects of the game are just far too lackluster, and considering that those are the game’s main features, there really is not much else to look forward to.
I was provided review copies of the games featured here. Read more about how I do my game reviews/impressions here.