Alpha review

Rodina review (Early Access)

Ian Birnbaum at

Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.

Open-world games fixate on the size of their worlds. Fallout 3, GTA IV, and Watch Dogs all brag about the square kilometers you’ll have to explore in search of an actual plot. Enter Rodina, an open-solar system RPG. One star, four planets, and 45,000 asteroids wrapped in the soft blackness of space for you to explore. Square kilometers, meet cubic light years.

Invisible, Inc. review (Early Access)

Emanuel Maiberg at

Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.

Invisible, Inc. proves that the logic of stealth games fits turn-based strategy conventions very well, even if it's a little too difficult to fully enjoy right now. Its most obvious influence is X-COM, as it put me in charge of a group of spies with 72 hours to prepare for a final mission. In the time I have until then, I choose between procedurally-generated missions from a global map, weighing the time they'll take to complete and level of security against the potential rewards, and deploy my agents.

TUG review (Early Access)

Emanuel Maiberg at

Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.

The TUG described in its Kickstarter pitch video is a slight deviation from Minecraft's formula of crafting and surviving in a procedurally generated world. It promises future RPG elements and uses malleable voxels that make for rolling hills and round caves instead of Minecraft's fixed-size boxes. But there's a huge gap between what TUG wants to be and the terrible game you can currently buy on Steam Early Access for $10/£7.

Crawl review (Early Access)

PC Gamer at

Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.

Step into the next randomly generated room of the dungeon, hear the click as the doors lock, and see the traps and summoning circles that await and you’ll know that death is haunting you. In Crawl, Powerhoof’s ‘co-opetition’ game currently on Steam Early Access, death isn’t just inevitable, it’s required. But Powerhoof has managed to take the classic dungeon crawler formula and make dying fun as hell.

Secret Ponchos review (Early Access)

Emanuel Maiberg at

Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.

If you’ve played Geometry Wars or Renegade Ops you know how to play Secret Ponchos: move with the left stick, aim with the right stick, and shoot. It’s a twin-stick shooter, but not just another twin-stick shooter: Secret Ponchos wisely tweaks and embellishes genre conventions to create something that feels more like a new type of fighting game. It's different and fun, but only if you play it with a good group.

Verdun review (Early Access)

Tyler Wilde at

I feel like someone’s expendable RTS unit as I dart through a muddy maze of trenches. My only goal right now is pathfinding: trudge from cover to cover on my way to the French line as they pelt the no man’s land between us. Trying to pick off entrenched riflemen might help a little, but I have to get into the trench to take it. I get into the trench, and get shot in the face.


SpeedRunners review (Early Access)

Emanuel Maiberg at

Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.

SpeedRunners takes the fast, challenging 2D platforming from games like N and Super Meat Boy, throws in three other players via local multiplayer or online matchmaking, and lets them race one another. That idea on its own is lighting in a bottle, but there are a few other subtle things that SpeedRunners does to make every match exciting, funny, and always worth playing for just one more round.

DieselStormers review (Early Access)

PC Gamer at

Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.

When I was getting ready to play local co-op in DieselStormers, I didn’t expect that I would need to refer back to the Steam store page for instructions, but I soon found out that this wasn’t the only thing absent from the $19/£14 game. The latest Kickstarter-funded project from Black Forest Games, creators of Gianna Sisters: Twisted Dreams, is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up that plays like a Metal Slug/Diablo hybrid. And while it has a unique gun-crafting mechanic and some great looking art, the current Early Access version falls short on everything else.

Habitat review (Early Access)

Christopher Livingston at

Alpha and Early Access reviews offer our preliminary verdicts on in-development games. We may follow up this unscored review with a final, scored review in the future. Read our full review policy for details.

The planet Earth, malformed and scarred from some unthinkable cataclysm, now sports a massive ring of orbiting space debris, some of it very unusual. Along with items you might expect to find floating around in a sci-fi game, like booster rockets, laser cannons, and abandoned space shuttles, you'll also find ferris wheels, hamburger restaurants, enormous buzzsaw blades, and the head of a giant mechanical fire-breathing Tyrannosaurus Rex. Your job is to cobble together this space flotsam to build bizarre weaponized space stations capable of supporting life and dishing out death.

The Forest alpha review

Andy Kelly at

I’ve been playing The Forest today, and whenever anyone’s come over to my desk to watch I’ve been savaging an animal. Spearing fish with a stick, murderising turtles with an axe, and at one point I’d battered so many seagulls with a rock that the resulting pile of feathery bodies slowed the game down to a crawl. As I type this, it’s the second best-selling game on Steam. It would be the first, but a 75% sale on Injustice is getting in the way. Am I enjoying it? Yeah, but I think it’s important I tell you from the off that it’s incredibly janky and limited, even for an Early Access title. At this point in time it feels more like a proof of concept than a game, but what I’ve seen so far shows a lot of promise indeed.


Dead State alpha review

Ian Birnbaum at

Davis is becoming a problem. The sandy-haired survivor has been whining at me to finish building the chain-link fence around our stronghold, an abandoned elementary school. To me, the fence is old-hat, low priority. “Relax,” I think, “The fence can wait for another day. The four of us are about to finish rebuilding the old well out back, and then we can ride out this whole zombie apocalypse business with fresh, clean water on tap.”


Rust alpha review

PC Gamer at

My first day on the island did not go well. Waking after some unknown calamity, it was only a few minutes before I stumbled upon a man-made structure and encountered its owner, working diligently to expand and improve his home. He was somewhat less pleased to see me, however, than I was to meet him. "Leave or I kill," he said, four short words I failed to take sufficiently seriously, and a few seconds later he hit me in the face with a hatchet, and then again, and I was dead. That’s life—and death—in Rust, an open-world survival game that falls somewhere between DayZ and Minecraft and has a way of bringing out both the best and the worst in its players.