Monthly Archives: May 2019

Embark Preview

By Terris (NWOrpheus)

I recently mentioned how much I love open world survival games, in my preview of Frozen Flame. I don’t know if I would call them my favorite genre, per se, but definitely top 5. Another genre that would be in that top 5 ranking would be the colony management sim (aka Dwarf Fortress clones). I’ve chalked up a fair few hours on games like Rimworld and Oxygen Not Included, and one of my earliest reviews for OnRPG was the game Judgment: Apocalypse Survival Simulator.

To be honest, this genre is sort of becoming the “next big thing” in the way that open world survival games did, and then battle royale games did. Not quite to the extent, but the trend is definitely there. The colony survival sim has definitely gained a great deal of popularity. My most recently explored title in the genre, Embark, is one I’ve got some mixed feelings about. Thankfully, it’s very early in its alpha state, so the one man development team of Singapore based studio, Overly Complicated Games, has plenty of time to add some polish that could really bring the game to the next level.

I’ll start with the basics, for those not familiar with the genre: Most colony survival sims have a lot of procedural generation involved, both in the creation of the world and of the characters that your colony is comprised of. Embark is no exception to this, though it does have some aspects of launching a colony that are fairly unique, and worth mentioning.

The additional options you have when making your starting colonists is quite refreshing.


First of all, you’re not strictly limited to three colonists, which is a fairly average number. Instead, Embark gives you a set number of points with which to “purchase” your colonists. The colonists themselves are randomly created by clicking a button. Generally speaking, you want to start your game with a set of colonists with decent ability in a few key points, like mining/digging, wood cutting, food preparation/cooking, etc. The basics that you’ll need to get resources to build shelter, and supply food for your team.

Given Embark’s numerical system, this isn’t overly difficult to do, so long as you’re willing to put some time in clicking the reroll button until you get your basics covered. What skills exactly you want to start with will depend largely on your play style. Some people choose to start with extremely “fertile” colonists, and not worry about the first generation overmuch, but instead proliferate the colony through reproduction. These traits, of which each colonist has 3, can vary greatly both in their nature, and in their potency.

For example, one character might have the traits minorly psychotic, extremely lazy, and decently friendly. Each of these statistics in turn contributes to what abilities the colonist will be good at. For example, a psychotic character might sound worrisome, but that trait tends to make them good with weapons. On the other hand, it can also make them more likely to anger other colonists when they interact, so you might wish to make efforts to largely keep them away from other people.

Before I segue into said interactions, I’ll point out that points aren’t merely used to purchase colonists. There’s also a short list of “perks” that you can choose to give your colony, such as beginning with some basic tools, food and seeds to plant crops, beverages, and even what time of year your colony starts in (winters can be harsh on some maps!). So before you’ve even started the actual game play, many tactical decisions can be made. Additionally, which the re-rolling may be tedious at times, one feature that Embark offers that I haven’t seen in most colony survival sims is the ability to actually save your colonist loadout, so it can be reused. This is a most welcome feature!

Okay, so the interactions: Embark relies heavily on a mood mechanic. The mood of colonists is affected by a number of things. How much food a colonist gets to eat, whether or not they have a bed, and how nice a room that bed is in, their health, and frequently, their interactions with other colonists. Introverted and extroverted colonists, for example, may not interact well.

Embark Relationships

Hassan is content, and despises people who are competitive. But since he’s also undemanding, he enjoys the company of optimistic people.

Each colonist has a list of likes and dislikes based on their three variable assets that you roll up before beginning the game. They will also talk about things like their rooms, other colonists, and even when you construct new buildings or facilities. It’s a very in depth system reminiscent, by design, of The Sims.

Beyond the mood and interaction system, Embark begins to look more like the rest of the genre out there. It is a full 3D environment, which I think might be something of a genre first. The game Gnomoria came close, but was 2.5D isometric, not full 3D. Embark actually lets you fully change your camera angle, as well as change your Z axis view, even allowing you to look underground and find caves. It’s kind of mesmerizing.

I don’t know why I love this so much, but I do. Don’t judge me.

Otherwise, it’s fairly familiar territory. You have to build shelter and beds for your people, protect them from the elements and starvation, arm them so they can defend themselves etc. It does have a full research tree, which unlocks new technologies. Some dedicated players have reached quite large populations, but I haven’t had the time to get past some of the bugs which have caused my colony to collapse, such as my colonists spontaneously deciding they’re not going to cook food any more.

Also, much though I appreciate the 3D nature of the game, there’s something about the graphics that just puts me off. I think the creator was going for a sort of Minecraft feel, and if so they’ve achieved it, but each block just repeats itself. This takes away from the world feeling like it has any sort of texture. Additionally, when you stick a normal shaped tree or a round faced human onto that blocky Minecraft texture, it just feels off. I also am just not entirely in love with the art style itself, to be frank, but that’s a subjective thing.

Again, these issues can be said to go back to the game being an alpha build, and an Early Access release on Steam. There’s every likelihood they can be fixed in the future. If you enjoy games of the Dwarf Fortress, Rimworld, and Oxygen Not Included style, and want to help development of Embark, the $24.99 price tag really isn’t too terrible. Just be aware that what you’re getting isn’t a finished product. It does however receive regular updates, despite the one man development. Drop into their Discord channel and say hi.

ARK: Survival Evolved Modding Contest Begins

ARK Modding Contest Image

The fourth-annual ARK Modding Contest has officially begun today in ARK: Survival Evolved. What that means is there’s $35,000 in cash prizes for winning creators/creative teams, with two separate prize pools for each category: Mods and Maps. Authors both new and old are invited to tackle Unreal Engine, and let their creativity take flight for this contest. Previous contests have brought the Ragnarok Map, Valhalla, Tribe Wars and other exciting creations to life.

Interested modders should first jump into the Epic Store launcher to download the ARK development kit, then join the ARK community, participate in the Unreal Engine ARK Modding Forum, and find content in the Unreal Engine Marketplace. Once ready modders can then share their creations with the ARK player community using Steam Workshop. NOTE: Modders have 1 day left to grab the 10 free custom packs available to download in the Unreal Engine Marketplace – download them now! Official rules of the contest can be found HERE.

In order to be eligible, all ARK mod creations must be first submitted during the four-week entry phase from 5/30/19 – 6/29/19. Once the submission phase ends,  a two-week voting phase will begin where all fellow players can show support for their favorite mods. ARK community members who vote for their favorite mod will be automatically entered to win an ARK: Survival Evolved Collector’s Edition signed by the development team!

Second Hand: Frankie’s Revenge Hits PC Today

You know the old adage – One man’s trash is another man’s Titan. I’m pretty sure that’s how it goes. Rikodu invites roboteers and murder-bot fans worldwide to get into the mechanical mayhem of their four-player co-op multiplayer, Second Hand: Frankie’s Revenge. Available now for Windows PC via Steam, Frankie’s Revenge features bolts-to-the-wall action where players — solo or with allies locally or online — seek vengeance against an onslaught of alien-controlled robotic renegades by crafting their very own “Frankie” bots from junkyard scraps. Players build their Frankie-bots, piece by piece, to make sure everything fits their playstyles. Some parts will have natural synergy, and some will not. But there are dozens of parts and hundreds of combinations so that everyone will find something they want to design.

“It’s time to kick some trash,” said Rikodu’s Managing Director and Co-Founder Alexandru Palade. “Everyone here at Rikodu has worked hard to make Frankie’s Revenge as polished and fun as possible for today’s public launch. Players can finally live out their dream of being a killer fridge with a chainsaw arm and a disco ball for a head!”

He continued, “With such a solid foundation, we’re focused on expanding the game with new features and content while in Early Access, as well as working with the community to improve the game even further.”

Golem Gates Is Now Available on Consoles

Laser Guided Games and Digerati have officially dropped their post-apocalyptic sci-fi card battler/RTS game, Golem Gates onto PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch. Only the Harbinger stands guard against an ancient threat, and with nanite-infused powers known as The Ash, you must protect this war-ravaged world. Choose from 100 cards (known as Glyphs) and unleash diverse units, buildings, buffs, and more in tactical combat across single player, co-op, and online multiplayer.

“With a great title like Golem Gates we wanted to create the best possible version for consoles,” said Nick Alfreri, Digerati Director. “Now you can enjoy Laser Guided Games’ vision in 1080p, full 4K or on go as Golem Gates has been fully optimised for every console and it’s individual capabilities.”

“We are so pleased that Golem Gates is now available on consoles. We’ve poured everything into Golem Gates so we can’t wait to see how consoles gamers take to this version of the game,” said the game’s creator, Matt Oelfke.

PixARK Is Now Available on Console and PC

PixARK is Snail Games’ latest open-world release and is a voxel-based sandbox survival, now available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam. Players must tame creatures that are both cuddly and terrifying, craft technology as well as magical tools, and build their own base made out of blocks. PixARK also features an infinite number of procedurally generated quests, so that each adventure into PixARK is unique.

“The day is finally here and I couldn’t be more proud of how far PixARK has come along,” said Peter Kang, director of live operations and business development, Snail Games. “More than anything, we wanted to create a game that everyone, no matter their age experience, could enjoy. PixARK extends the world of ARK to a larger demographic, and we’re excited for players to jump in and explore with friends and family!”

PixARK is normally priced at $39.99 but starting June 25 until July 9, fans will have the opportunity to purchase the game for a discounted price of $27.99 during the Steam Summer Sale. Additionally, at launch PC players can expect a special treat of automation and breeding.

It Lurks Below Officially Releases on PC

It Lurks Below

David Brevik, creator of Diablo has a new title out, developed entirely by him for Steam/PC – It Lurks Below. It is available for 19.99 USD and is an action-oriented survival RPG with eight character classes. It also offers deep randomization, and a retro side-view player perspective, set in a world ravaged by demons. For people that want to see it in action, Brevik’s Twitch channel has several streams to peek at.

“It Lurks Below has been in development for several years now, and I’m delighted to put this eagerly-awaited product into hands of gamers. I wake up every day excited to be working on this game and now I get to share it with the world,” said Brevik, whose last major launch was Marvel Heroes in 2013 when he led Gazillion Entertainment.

“I’m flattered by the overwhelmingly positive response I received during Early Access and my personal streams of It Lurks Below,” Brevik said. “The experience of developing this game with the passionate community has been wonderful. I read every piece of feedback I receive, and directly interact with the community every day. There is so much fun packed into this game.”

Ragachak’s Most Disappointing Modern RPGs

by Jason Parker (Ragachak)

Friends, let us eat, drink, and be salty! – Someone, probably.

Secret of Mana - Spring Beak

Even Axe Beak was no challenge to my superior strength. But Chobin Hood…

I try to be a pretty positive guy, but the most enjoyable articles for me, are ones where I criticize things that frankly disappointed me through the years. So we’re going to flip the script from the earlier list and talk about the most disappointing RPGs in the modern era. You’re not going to agree with all of them I imagine, but that’s the point! These are games that I personally did not enjoy, for one reason or another. There are games I wanted to put on here but did not for a host of reasons. Mass Effect 3, for example. This is mostly for the ending, but it did feel like it removed a lot of the charm and the RPG feel of the previous two games. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is another that almost made the cut. It felt like a bargain-bin, would-be Chrono Trigger.  I enjoyed the combat of the first two Final Fantasy XIII games, but there were so many things that frankly I couldn’t stand about them. That would probably be an article all on its own. But which games let me down the most? Let’s find out!

Dragon Quest VII

This game STILL makes me frustrated.

5. Dragon Quest VII: Let’s start with one of my all-time favorite franchises, Dragon Quest! I don’t have too many bad things to say about the franchise as a whole, but Dragon Quest VII on the Playstation made my blood boil with frustration. The story felt kind of unnecessarily depressing (or that’s how I remember it, anyway), but what I truly detested was that god. damn. map I absolutely loathed filling out that map. It made the game drag far more than it should have, but it wasn’t a terrible game. It was trying something new but it was not a hit with me. The deeper you go into the game, the most depressing it gets. It’s just blow after crippling blow, and it’s not fun. It’s edgy for edginess’ sake. It didn’t feel like any of my accomplishments as a hero mattered or were even important, which is honestly, sort of an interesting take on being a hero. But Dragon Quest VII is easily, without any doubt my least favorite part of my favorite series.


In what world was this okay?

4. Final Fantasy – Any Mobile Port: They’re all a bit rubbish, aren’t they? I wanted to pick V and VI as a tie, but honestly, I can’t think of a Final Fantasy mobile port that’s gone anywhere that I didn’t think was absolutely awful. But I’m going to focus on VI, because that one was the balls-worst. Can this just be “Square Enix mobile ports”? Because Chrono Trigger was awful too. That one got fixed, at least. My main gripe with Final Fantasy VI was the absolutely dreadful character sprites. Then there was the font. This could become a list very fast all on its own. It looked terrible, it sounded awful, and it played like a miserable piece of junk. I love Final Fantasy V and VI, okay? They’re among my all-time favorites, but I will not pretend that a mobile port that both looks and sounds hideous are worth my time or money. I heard there was a fixed, SNES-style ROM hidden in the code of Final Fantasy VI on Steam. Why couldn’t they have just released that edition? Wouldn’t that be better? A not ugly version of a classic RPG? Square-Enix make incredible games, but they make some pretty lousy ports.

Enchanted Arms

I wanted this one to be good, in all fairness.


3. Enchanted Arms: Enchanted Arms was probably the second most disappointing RPG on the Xbox 360. When surrounded by games like Tales of VesperiaThe Last RemnantLost Odyssey and Eternal Sonata? This game just let me down, but gratefully, I bought it used. It had a fairly boring, uninspired combat system, characters that felt flat and uninteresting, and a dub that was pretty grating on the ears. I didn’t enjoy how it looked, or how it sounded. The intro was awfully tedious, and that’s probably the nicest thing I could say about it. The gameplay wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t interesting. I didn’t feel vested in the trials and tribulations of the world at all. Enchanted Arms is a game that wasn’t bad, but it definitely trailed behind just about every other RPG alive at the time. But there was one that was significantly worse, don’t worry.

Star Ocean 2016 Review

2. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness: This is the most modern game on this list, I believe. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness greatest crime is being possibly the weakest Star Ocean game overall. Other Star Ocean games have terrible endings, or garbage crafting systems, but are still solid games overall. The seamless battle system was neat but becomes incredibly frustrating a little deeper into the games. The cast of characters felt bland, and traversing the world was quite frankly, boring. It was marred by some pretty serious flaws but ultimately still, not a bad game. I keep coming back to that because that’s the concept. Most of these games aren’t upsetting, just… disappointing. Suddenly going from a dead sprint to a slow RP walk just because an important character is near? That made me want to pull my beard out.

Two Worlds

But no good came of Two Worlds. NONE.

1. Two Worlds: How. Did. This. Game. Get. Made?! Nothing in Two Worlds worked. This is probably my least favorite RPG of all time. I owned this game, and I didn’t play half as much as my former roommate did. He was obsessed with it, and played it all the time, no matter how bad it was. I’d watch with mirth as he tried to ride a horse, fight bad guys, or even walk from Point A to Point B. This was the developers first RPG, and their first console game apparently, and it shows that something went wrong. The dub and writing was less than a B-Movie quality. I can’t think of a single thing in Two Worlds that worked as intended. It was absolutely damn dreadful on every metric. Somehow it got a sequel though! TWO WORLDS II. Is it a cult hit or something, and I missed it? I played it when it was released, and it made me laugh more than anything. There is nothing more upsetting than Two Worlds, except maybe E.T.

What about you? What are your most disappointing modern RPGs? I’d love to hear the salt!