“I want it all and I want it now”
February will be a very strange month. As you can see from the list below, the next weeks will be very interesting for us and full of releases, BUT, for the very first time, I noticed that most of them will be Early Access releases. So, before letting you read my list, I decided to torture you talking about what represents for me this implacable trend of the Early Access releases.
That being said, I have neither time nor the required language skill to write a satisfying article about this topic, so I decided to share with you just a couple of thoughts about it.
Let’s start talking about the possible drawbacks.
Most of the E.A. videogames, at the time of their release, are based on promises, ideas, and features, all things essentially left to our imagination. This means that, when a Steam customer decides to buy an E.A. game, he already knows that he isn’t going to receive what he really wants from the final product, but only a chance to see his own desire satisfied. In other words, he somehow invests (or bets) in the future. In this way, often the buyers aren’t attracted by the qualities that the game already has, but by a handful of promises. From a certain point of view, the purchase of an E.A. videogame is nothing more and nothing less than a gamble and this is something that everyone should be aware of.
This is confirmed also by other circumstances.
Have you ever noticed that it is not so uncommon for an E.A. game to have a very long list of promised features and a very short list of what has been already done? The worst part of it is that often what is promised to the players has nothing to do with the skill of the developers, but only with their imagination, and everybody knows that promises are a double-edged sword (personally I don’t agree with Mark Twain when he says “It is better a broken promise than none at all“).
And you have to consider also that the aforementioned problems may become even bigger if we are talking about a videogame developed by a rookie studio…
Once it was all so simple: you bought a game in a shop, put the cd in your player, and run the exe. The game was all there, you didn’t buy a piece of it, there were no e.a., no patches, no dlc…
Nowadays, instead, the first problem you have to face is orienting yourself among alphas, betas, open and closed versions of both of these things, early access, normal edition and backer’s editions, and so on, and do you want to know what is the worst part of all this mess? Each game developer treats all of these release points differently, so what is an open beta for someone, can represent a closed beta for someone else…
Now, in conclusion, is the E.A. the root of all evil? I don’t think so.
The most obvious advantage of releasing a game on Early Access is the ability to engage the players in a (potentially very large) beta testing phase. In this way, developers can collect valuable feedback from the buyers before the game is finally released. So, if until a decade ago, the developers had to pay for a good alpha testing phase, now they have the chance to receive massive feedback on their game without spending a single penny. So, what was a cost in the past, now can even become a true source of funding. In other words, thanks to the E.A. the developers can save both time and money and this represent, especially for very small teams, an invaluable resource without which there wouldn’t have been many indies gem of the past years.
Obviously, this isn’t the only advantage.
In fact, if used properly, E.A. allows the players to really participate in the development of a game. Contributing with their ideas and their suggestion, the players may become the true “gauge” of the game (but this is not always a good thing…).
So what are the conclusions of my delirium?
It is quite simple. In my humble opinion, the real problem here is not the E.A. itself. The E.A. can be a great resource both for developers and players, but the former should release their game at the right time and deliver on the promises made, the latter should act more responsibly, buying games on E.A. only where they are quite confident on the project and, especially, on the developers behind it.
PLEASE NOTE: this article was co-written with our dear Marcello. So let’s make a deal: if some parts of this article upset you, let’s pretend they are just Marcello’s parts…
SHADOWS BEHIND THE THRONE 2 (E.A.) – 1st February
Is it good to be bad? This time we don’t have to save the world, finally our goal is the opposite!
Shadows Behind the Throne is a game that places you in the role of an Ancient Evil in a fantasy world. The world is a living breathing system, with nobles constantly bickering and playing politics amongst each other, and nations rising and falling. Initially, they are unaware of your presence, allowing you to slip in, with both agents and world-changing powers, and use their politics against them.
THE CAPTAIN IS DEAD – 3rd February
Based on a fun board game, C.I.D. is a turn-based, survival/strategy game that puts you in the Captain’s chair as you try to save your crew from being blown to bits by aliens. Lysergic graphic and funny turn-based moments, what more could you want?
If you want to know more just go and read our overview!
Very soon on Steam.
FIELD OF GLORY II: MEDIEVAL – 4th February
Field of Glory II Medieval is a turn-based tactical game set in the High Middle Ages from 1040 AD to 1270 AD.
Lead your chosen army and its named generals to victory in set-piece historical battles or “what-if” custom battle situations against an AI or human opponent. Choose your forces from historically accurate orders of battle allowing all of the options and variations that would be available to a real general of that nation at any date during the era.
Field of Glory II Medieval has more than 100 beautiful and historically accurate fully animated troop units, each with multiple variations to bring out the color and variety of the era. Watch the swords flash and the arrows fly! Count the cost of victory or defeat as bodies litter the battlefield.
Among its features:
- 29 nations and factions covering North and Central Europe from 1040 AD to 1270 AD.
- 57 different army lists allowing historically realistic armies for each of these factions at different dates during the period. In addition armies can include contingents from historical allies. This gives tens of thousands of permutations. You will never run out of new matchups to try.
- More than 100 historically accurate units, built from fully animated 3D troop models.
- Campaign Mode and Quick Battle Mode
- and so on…
Doors of Insanity (E.A.) – 10th February
We tried it a few months ago and it impressed us a lot. Doors of Insanity by OneShark is a roguelike deckbuilding RPG with a unique cartoon style. Embark on an epic ass-kicking, card-slinging journey across purgatory. Create your custom character, build your deck and do battle with the twisted denizens of purgatory and journey to the paradise you deserve. Cast spells, summon allies, and equip a variety of items and equipment as you explore what lies behind the Doors of Insanity. No sword is too big, armor too thick, or ally too awful!
- Improve your character between runs! Create a new god in the Realm of Madness!
- Collect and use over 70 cards
- Summon 7 different allies including Shield Beaters, Wizards, and Demonic Bugs!
- Wield a variety of magical weapons including the powerful Sword Of The Three Saints and the substantially less-powerful Dad’s Hammer
- Engage in dozens of encounters hidden behind the Doors of Insanity
- Travel through 4 huge areas each with their own enemies, encounters, and secrets
- Join the developers as they work with the community to build the ultimate deck building roguelike
Here the Steam page.
Ultimate ADOM: Caverns of Chaos (E.A.) – 11th February
After a long development phase, finally, Ultimate ADOM by Thomas Biskup is ready to hit Steam in early access. Experience the sequel of a traditional roguelike dungeon-crawling classic. Endless procedurally generated dungeons, countless monsters, grafting, crafting and a vast amount of skill trees and items allow for unlimited replayability. Journey into the ever-changing depths of the Caverns of Chaos.
Here the Steam page
Osteoblasts – 12th February
From Moonana ( Virgo Versus The Zodiac & Keylocker ) comes an interesting dungeon crawler RPG. In Osteoblasts, you play as a spooky scary skeleton raised from the dead by a mysterious Cat Witch in a journey to find purpose. You get to choose a class and go on frightening adventures battling your nemesis – the Dogs – who unburied you from the depths below.
- Single character, multiple classes, items, abilities and spells.
- Randomized loot affixes which change your skills when equipped.
- Multiple Endings.
- Barebones battle system.
- Heartless story.
- Braindead hard difficulty.
Here the Steam page
Gem Wizards Tactics – 16th February
One of the most promising indie turn-based strategy games for sure. We are talking about Gem Wizards Tactics by Keith Burgun Games. We are actually playing it and in few days will come our review. But what about the game. Gem Wizards Tactics is a turn-based squad tactics game with randomly generated maps and weird asymmetrical factions: oil-fracking, earth-scorching Business Demons, storm-bringing, monster vine-summoning Potatoes, and more! Constantly surprising, endlessly challenging!
- Wild powers with fun and surprising side-effects! Drill for oil, which is slippery and lights on fire! Spray water around until you create new rivers! Freeze those rivers over with ice magic! And a lot more.
- Randomly generated maps! The map geometry, enemy squads you’re facing off, and Unit Rescue rewards are different every time you play!
- Three distinct factions with LOTS of asymmetry: the classic royal high fantasy knights of the Azure Order; the resource-exploiting, terrain-burning Business Demons, or the nature and weather-controlling Potatoes: each have their own unique playstyles and abilities. Better yet, there’s cross-pollination between the factions, so maybe you can find some neat combo for your Azure Knights sliding over a bunch of freshly fracked oil slicks!
- Three modes are available: a short tutorial, a custom game mode, and a longer-form Campaign that has you doing a long series of battles, leveling up units and permanently losing others!
- Colorful pixel art and an original melodic soundtrack
- Lots of developer support in the form of new patches, balance changes and MORE: More factions, more game modes, more platform support – you name it! Come chat with me on the discord about what you’d like to see in the future of GEM WIZARDS TACTICS! We’re only getting started.
Kitty Tactics – 24th February
Fight your way through the kittens’ world in Kitty Tactics by Ibe Denaux. Despite its simple graphic, this turn-based tactical game offers a deep gameplay experience. A game about growing stronger, making friends and conquering foes! Become a cat, expand your territory and reign supreme over your enemies through dynamic tactical combat!
- Fast paced turn-based tactical combat
- Territory focused gameplay
- Lots of unique jobs and skills
- Dynamic and challenging AI
- Persistent relationship system
- High replayability
- Original music by Rupert Cole
Here the Steam Page
Space Wreck (E.A.) – 25th February
A passenger shuttle is damaged after pirate attack and you must find replacement parts on nearby derelict space ship. — Intentionally short hardcore role playing game that borrows as much as possible from best isometric RPGs (Fallout, Fallout 2, Arcanum). These are the premisis of Space Wreck by Pahris Entertainment SIA, ready to hit Steam in Early Access.
- Multiple solutions
- Choice & Consequence
- Optional but unlimited violence
- Non-linear world
Battle Barn: Tactics – 2021 February
Now some of the games with a no precise February release date. Let’s start with Battle Barn: Tactics by
Tim Ruswick. Build the ultimate team and battle the barnyard! Saddle up for turn-based tactics, bite-sized battles, and rogue-lite strategy.
- Every unit can be captured and controlled
- Hundreds of strategies and synergies with different units
- New units to capture in every zone
- Animals move in their own patterns
- Dozens of moves and abilities
- Countless combinations of upgrades for each unit
Here the Steam Page
Geneforge 1 – Mutagen – 2021 February
Maybe one of the games that hardcore RPGs fans will looking for the most. We are talking about Geneforge 1: Mutagen by Spiderweb Software (Avernum, Avadom, Queen’s Wish and more). Unique, truly open-ended fantasy adventure in a strange, new world. Use battle or cunning to change the world, served by your own army of custom-made mutant monsters. Over 80 zones to explore and 50+ hours of gameplay. Multitudes of skills, abilities, factions, treasures, and servants to create.
Here the Steam Page
Might is Right – February 2021
Might is Right by Lazy Kitty is an old-school turn-based strategy game, it has simple controls and deep complex mechanics. After a period of early access the game is ready for the full release.
- ~16-hour campaign with procedurally generated enemies
- 8 heroes, 18 mercenaries with different abilities, and 3 unique mercenaries who can be recruited during the game
- more than 200 unique talents
- complex talent trees for each character
- 8 unique boss battles
- 183 equipment items to discover
- 13 item sets with different set bonuses
- 87 consumable items (food, potions, scrolls, books, grindstones, defense enhancers, and unique items that permanently increase parameters)
- fast and powerful state-of-the-art AI, able to adapt to any (without exaggeration) situation
- turn-based tactical combat
- contextual tutorial that delicately gives useful advice as you explore the world
- achievement system (more than 80 achievements)
- 40 NPCs who are eager to give your hero their tasks and willingly provide him with information
- robbers and racketeers of all kinds who are ready to attack you at the most inopportune moment and demand a ransom
Check out the Steam Page
Rogueria (E.A.) – February 2021
Featured in Marcello’s Keep an Eye on It. Rogueria by Waxycorn Studio is ready to land on Steam in Early Access. Roguelike genre meets turn-based strategy RPG, feel like playing a gamebook! Collect powerful artifacts through unexpected encounters and special events, and recruit heroes to help you on your journey. To take down enemies, you need to teach your hero the right skills. Can you uncover the secrets of the mysterious meteorite and bring peace to Rogueria?
- 8 heroes with different basic skills and growth potential
- Stage with three completely different themes
- More than 120 strategic battlefields
- Over 140 unique skills
- 18 or more special monsters
- 3 or more powerful boss monsters
- More than 100 mysterious artifacts
- Over 87 events to make your adventures special
Check out the Steam Page
Shores Unknown (E.A.) – February 2021
For sure one of the most anticipated games on this list. Shores Unknown by Vallynne is a turn-based tactical RPG rendered in a rich, low-poly aesthetic. Build your own team of mercenaries, forge alliances, wage battles, and journey beyond the seething wall of fog known only as of the Murk in this decision-influenced, narrative-driven adventure. What dangers await you on Shores Unknown?
- Gridless tactical turn-based combat: take your time to assess the situation and command your characters in the Order Phase, then watch your strategy come to life during the Action Phase as the characters maneuver around the battlefield and carry out their orders.
- Adaptive character advancement system: characters learn new skills and unlock new classes depending on their equipment and combat choices.
- Deep party customization options allow the player to build the perfect mercenary team of their choice, allowing full control over equipment and skills used by each character.
- Vibrant world rendered in low-poly stylistic full of little details to immerse yourself in. Explore the various locations of the game, interact with dozens of characters and uncover the secrets of the Shores.
Check out the Steam Page
Titankin: Prologue – February 2021
Jump into this opening act of the TITANKIN story in a turn-based JRPG set in a unique world inspired by Celtic mythology. Twin protagonists Jorden and Torden are pulled into a familial mystery that sends them on a quest full of fun and discovery.
- Strategic Turn-Based Combat
Each enemy you encounter has distinct strengths and weaknesses – discover and employ your own strategies to quickly overthrow the enemy.
- Command TITANS
Defeating each TITAN will yield a KINSTONE- equip one on a character and they’ll benefit from enhanced stat growth, as well as the ability to call upon the TITAN in battle!
- The Classic JRPG, Modernized
- No random encounters: on-map enemies will chase or run from the player, and superior balancing removes the need to grind for levels. Save points within a dungeon will also fully restore the party!
- Vibrant Celtic-Mythology Setting
- You will meet, battle, and recruit creatures and entities inspired by famous and obscure mythical stories of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and more.
- Meaningful Choice
- The Tuath Dé are watching your every move- and fates are not unbreakable. The things you do and say will have an impact on the world around you- whether they’re felt now or in the years to come …
- Short and Sweet
- This opening act of the TITANKIN saga won’t devour all your time- if you love JRPGs but don’t have 50+ hours to spend on a juggernaut, TITANKIN Prologue will leave you feeling fulfilled.
Check out the Steam Page
Void Eclipse – February 2021
We tried the demo during a Steam Festival, and be surprised by Void Eclipse by Tau Ceti Studios. Void Eclipse is turn-based strategy in an immersive sci-fi world. You’re an android with scattered memories in search of your mysterious origins. Explore the stars, Evolve your army and Fight an alien threat. Help characters or harm them – will you be Feared, Admired, or Respected?
- Explore the galaxy searching for memory fragments as you confront your enemies.
- Evolve your character’s personality matrix and upgrade your battle abilities!
- Tactical turn-based combat includes over 100 passive & active battle abilities for your characters.
- Choose dialog options that changes your reputation, what missions to take, and what units to unlock!
- Comes with 2 playable alien races and 14 unit characters to compose your ultimate battle fleet.
Expected for this month on Steam
Wildemist Isle – February
Wildemist Isle, a 3D Open World Adventure Card Game. You are a hero who’s ship has crashed while sailing to the capital. You wake up on this Island that has been covered in a mist for months, but the villagers do not know whats causing it.
- Island and 2 areas to explore the Mine and Catacombs
- 18 different enemies and 6 unique ‘boss’ enemies
- 16 different main weapons, secondary weapons, shields and healing kits
- Puzzles and quests
Wildemist Isle is expected during this month, but in the meanwhile you can play the free demo on Steam.
Thanks for reading ON THE RADAR of February 2021. Remember that you can get in touch with me on Twitter and you can also join our Discord Server. See you at the next article.