Most turn-based tactical RPG fans are currently being well served by the excellent Divinity: Original Sin. But if you're the kind of RPG devotee who prefers sci-fi to fantasy, pixels to polygons, and creeping dread to tongue-in-cheek adventure: firstly, that's some very specific taste you have; secondly, Halfway could fit the bill. Its claustrophobic deep space action is being unleashed onto Steam and the Humble Store next week, 22 July.
As happens with all the best sandbox game, a huge and creative community has attached itself to Starbound. While the game's still in Early Access, through the use of mods you can expand it into something more varied, more vibrant, and specifically tailored to what you want it to be. Here are ten of the best mods, chosen from the many now available in Starbound's growing mod directory.
I have a folder on my computer entitled 'Awesome pixel art', in which the jazzy Witchmarsh's expressive and moodily-paletted characters feature heavily. I'm expecting that folder to expand a bit with the news that Inglenook's *deep breath* sidescrolling 1920s-set supernatural co-op action RPG has taken to Kickstarter, supported by a brief but footage-packed pitch video, tons of information, and more GIFs than it's possible for a human to digest in a single sitting. Phil might be looking forward to getting lost in space, Joey Tribbiani style, with Elite: Dangerous, but I can't wait to be lost in the roaring supernatural alternate-twenties, a time when life was 2D, mystery-laden, and accompanied by a toe-tapping jazz/blues soundtrack.
Like so many things in the Starbound, the current player progression system is a temporary measure. If the early access survival sandbox was a cyborg, its existing set of tiers and sectors would be a cardboard cut-out of an arm, with the words "add cool stuff here" written on in marker. In a new post on the Starbound blog, creator Finn "Tiy" Brice outlines what that cool stuff will eventually consist of.
There's a new Starbound patch, this one called "Enraged Koala". Rather than having anything to do with incandescent marsupials, though, this update comes with a hint of amour - bringing both Valentine's items and the a capella crooning of YouTube's Smooth McGroove. The update also improves the early access sandbox's patching system, allowing the Chucklefish team to push out new game content on an almost daily basis.
Starbound's update naming scheme takes the form of increasingly agitated koalas. It started back in early December with version Perturbed Koala. Less than two months later and we're already at Furious Koala. This is escalating far too quickly. Sure, Chucklefish can still patch a Seething Koala, or an Incandescent Koala, but what happens after that? Throbbing Veins Koala? Murderous Rampage Koala? Emotional Equilibrium Through Extensive Counselling And A Treatment Of Mood-Altering Drugs Koala?
Whatever the state of the 2D sandbox's future koala's, yesterday's one brings a whole heap of changes and additions. One of the fixes may ensure that things are a lot calmer in future: thanks to "massive changes to disk serialization" (no, me neither), Chucklefish will no longer need to wipe characters or ships, and are confident that worlds are safe too. In addition, players get more efficient mod distribution, as well as new biomes, monster attacks, tech, and an enforced PvP zone.
Given that Starbound has both a grappling hook and the ability to create a cutesy rendition of the Morrowind theme, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's already finished. But no, those are just the most important features of a long and winding development road. In a new post on the game's official site, designer Finn "Tiy" Brice has outlined some of the things planned for future updates.
A few days ago, a stranger on Twitter half-jokingly informed me I should add "Starbound PR" to my list of credentials. I protested, of course, but the truth of the matter is that I've probably spent more time evangelizing Chucklefish's procedurally generated, sci-fi sandbox exploratory thing than I have championing Dota 2. Which is a little worrying because DotA is the game I spent a decade playing.
Today is International Starbound Day, or it will be once I've finished scribbling on every calendar in the world. Chucklefish's openworldcraftingsci-fisandbox (phew) game enters public beta this very day, though you'll need to pre-order the game to be allowed in. The team are trailing this momentous occasion with a new video, which shows four-and-a-half minutes of crafting, exploring, jetpacking, dungeoneering, snowball fights and general milling about. It's lovely stuff, and it's awaiting your peepers after the break.
The developers of Terraria-ish 2D sandbox Starbound are preparing to send their game into the uncharted wilderness of beta testing. In a post made to the Starbound blog, game designer Tiy outlined the structure of the beta, which he says is "really not very far off now." And if you're guessing that this beta structure will take the form of a series of unfinished builds that'll be made available for public consumption, you wouldn't be far wrong.
Treasure Adventure World - based on the lovely freeware platformer Treasure Adventure Game - is totally a thing, and as of roundabout...now it's totally a thing that you can pay for in advance of actually owning it. It's not a pre-order in the usual sense; it's one of those strange, slightly confusing pre-order crowdfunding things, where the game is getting made either way, albeit more slowly if it doesn't raise much cash. But if you want to get in on the ground floor of this reimagimake (trademark pending), this is the way.
Let's play Starbound, shall we? And by 'let's play' I of course mean 'Let's Play', which here means 'someone else plays while you watch'. But hey, that's better than nothing - and it's often more enjoyable than actually playing a game yourself, if you're an increasingly old and lazy type such as myself. At the Insomnia Gaming Festival, the Yogscast team did such a thing in front a live audience, playing promising indie sci-fi sandbox Starbound for around an hour in co-op. Catch it after the break.
How many biomes will Starbound have? Quite a lot, according to this teaser video for Terraria's sort of spiritual successor. Which naturally leads to a second question: when did we start referring to these things as "biomes" instead of "environments" or "terrain types"? Whatever they are, they'll be available in many shades, including snow, lava, desert and... eyeballs?
Starbound - a sort of spiritual successor to Terraria - was made available to pre-order last night, and at the time of writing it's already raised a staggering $225,000, and counting. That's the kind of money that makes monocles smash, saloon patrons stop and turn suddenly in your direction, and Donald Trump's hair to ruffle slightly, ever so slightly. The sidescrolling, sci-fi crafting sandbox can be pre-had for $15, which will give you access to the beta, the soundtrack, and of course the game (with a Steam key) when it's done. If your wallet is so flush with cash that it's beginning to affect your gait, however, you can also pay more for various Kickstarter-esque extras, including the opportunity to design an in-game hat. For $500. Damn, there goes my other monocle.
If you haven't played Treasure Adventure Game, you should probably go and do that right now. It's an astonishingly lovely open world piratey platform game that took its creator, Stephen Orlando (or Robit Studios) around three years to make, before he gave us the whole damn thing for free. Now, over a year since its release, he's announced an HD remake/reimagining with an entirely new visual style, some new music by the original composer, lots of small tweaks, and a new game engine. Oh, and a new title: it's now known as Treasure Adventure World. You can see the debut trailer after the break.