Video Games » This Week On Steam » This Week’s Steam Releases and Reviews-October 23rd, 2015

This Week’s Steam Releases and Reviews-October 23rd, 2015

With the number of daily Steam game releases increasing exponentially, it can be hard keeping up with the newest releases and picking the best gems out of all the clutter. This Week’s Steam Releases and Reviews is a weekly post series that attempts to do that work for you. We have looked over all of the games released on Steam for the week of October 18th-October 23rd, 2015 and picked out (and in some cases reviewed) the best games this week had to offer.

If you represent a game that is going to be released on Steam soon and would like to see it featured on Geeky Hobbies check out our contact page for details.

Reviewed Games

Notable Games

The Rest

Reviewed Games

We would like to thank the following companies for the free review copies supplied for these reviews: Dreamsite Games (Empire TV Tycoon), Dysotek (Bocce Revolution), Farsky Interactive (Sky Break), LandFall Games (Square Brawl), Lukas Navratil (Toby: The Secret Mine), n-Space (Sword Coast Legends), Pixel Pi Games (Pulse), The Secret Games Company (Rise: Battle Lines). We received no other compensation for these reviews and receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of these reviews.

Bocce Revolution
© Dysotek

Bocce Revolution

  • Release Date: October 23, 2015
  • Genre: Sports
  • Developer: Dysotek
  • Publisher: Dysotek
  • Retail Price: $19.99
  • Reviewed By: Eric Mortensen
  • Purchase on Steam: Bocce Revolution

Concept

In Bocce Revolution you get to play the ancient game of Bocce. While I am not going to go into all of the details of how Bocce is played I will give you a quick recap.

The objective of Bocce ball is to get your colored balls closest to the “jack” (a small ball thrown at the beginning of each round). Bocce ball plays a lot like curling. Each team gets four balls for each round. The team whose closest ball is further away from the jack will throw one of their balls (if they have any left) trying to either place their ball closer to the jack than the other team or trying to knock the other team’s ball away from the jack. Play continues until all of the balls have been thrown.

The score is tallied at the end of each round. The team closest to the jack scores one point for each of their balls that are closer to the jack than the closest ball of their opponents. The game ends after a certain number of rounds or once a player has reached a determined number of points.

Review

I will preface this review by saying that if you aren’t REALLY interested in Bocce ball you can stop reading the rest of this review since Bocce Revolution will not be for you.

With that out of the way, Bocce Revolution is not a great game. The reason I was interested in Bocce Revolution is that I am always interested in trying out less traditional sports/games. I have been interested in trying out Bocce ball for some time so I thought I would try out the game with Bocce Revolution on Steam. Unfortunately you are probably better off playing the game in real life.

Let’s start with the graphics. Simply put they are not very good and are reminiscent of the early PS2 era of video games. The characters have a lack of detail. The animation of the players is pretty bad since the bocce balls seem to just fly out of their hands. The players will also regularly walk through barriers and walls. The crowd members don’t seem to even move, they look really creepy and the same crowd members are repeated so often that you would think that you must have a twin to be a fan of Bocce ball. If the graphics at all matter to you, you will be quickly turned off by Bocce Revolution.

Graphics don’t really matter, especially for a Bocce ball game, if the gameplay is good. In this regard I would say that Bocce Revolution does a decent job. The game works like you would expect a Bocce ball game to. You throw the balls and try to get them closest to the jack. The game allows you to position where you will throw from and what angle you want to throw in. You then use a power meter to set how much strength you want to put into your throw. This all works perfectly fine. The problem is that it just isn’t that satisfying for two reasons.

First the idea behind a power meter is kind of broke. Power meters are kind of outdated for video games and after playing Bocce Revolution I know why. There just isn’t much skill in the mechanic. All you do is press the button once to start the meter and a second time to stop the meter. This mechanic is simple enough but the game decided to place little icons on the power meter to represent the different balls on the court. This eliminates pretty much all guessing on how much strength you need to put into a throw. Just find where you want to throw the ball, maybe add a little additional power, and the ball will essentially go exactly where you want it to go.

The biggest problem with the power meter is that there is absolutely no accuracy mechanic in the game. You essentially just throw the ball with no worry about accuracy. Most sports games today find a way to add accuracy to these type of mechanics. While they make the game a little more challenging they make the game a lot better since you actually need to have some skill in order to do well in the game. In Bocce Revolution you kind of just need to get lucky or benefit off turn order.

Should You Purchase Bocce Revolution?

If you aren’t REALLY interested in Bocce ball, avoid Bocce Revolution. If you have been clamoring for a Bocce Ball game for a long time you may enjoy Bocce Revolution since it is a serviceable game despite terrible graphics and pretty boring gameplay. At a $20 retail price though you need to really want a Bocce ball game to get your money’s worth out of the game.

Empire TV Tycoon 2
© Dreamsite Games

Empire TV Tycoon

  • Release Date: October 20, 2015
  • Genre: Simulation, Strategy
  • Developer: Dreamsite Games
  • Publisher: Dreamsite Games
  • Retail Price: $12.99
  • Reviewed By: Adam Mortensen
  • Purchase on Steam: Empire TV Tycoon

Concept

Have you ever wanted to be an executive for a TV network, deciding which shows make it to air? Well, Empire TV Tycoon gives you the chance to do just that. The simulation/strategy game puts you in charge of one of three competing networks and you get to decide which movies and TV shows to purchase, when to schedule each, which ads to run and during which program, and also which of your own movie and TV show scripts to develop. A game of Empire TV Tycoon takes place over thirty days and each day you will fill eleven or twelve one-hour blocks of programming (some movies can take up two or three blocks), some of which are prime time hours which bring in the largest audiences. At first, you mostly have to rely on awful movies and game shows but eventually you can purchase and schedule some of the best movies and TV shows from real-life (the game uses their actual names so things like Modern Family and Home Alone are actually in the game). The main goal of the game is to acquire fame points, specifically 300 of them before one of your two competitors reach the same amount. You get fame points by reaching large audiences (mostly by matching your programming to the correct audience in each block) and winning awards with your own produced movies and TV shows.

While this is somewhat over simplifying the game, you pretty much want to look at the audiences each of your blocks will get and find programming that matches the audience. For example, if one of your blocks will have mostly “lovers” you might want to schedule a romance film. You also want to acquire advertising contracts that can go with the programs you schedule and will pay you the most money (so you have more cash to buy better movies and shows for the future). Eventually, you will also want to upgrade your network (which can get you perks like a better movie library to pick from or the ability to make your own movies or shows). Speaking of which, you may want to eventually start making your own programming because you can win awards that will give you fame points. Ultimately, the first network to reach 300 fame points wins the game.

Review

I love television and movies and have always dreamed of being able to run a TV network and decide which shows to schedule (yes, I have some pretty unusual dreams). I have been looking for a game where you can play as a TV executive but until now, the only one I had heard about was a board game called War of the Networks (which I reviewed earlier this year). I was so glad to find Empire TV Tycoon and knew that I had to give it a try. However, after putting four hours into it, my thoughts are a bit on the mixed side (but leaning towards the positive side).

Empire TV Tycoon is ultimately fun to play but the game’s biggest problem is that it is a bit too rigid and linear. In order to get big ratings and earn fame points and a lot of money, you basically have to program the blocks based on the target audiences you are “assigned.” You can’t be a niche network like The CW focusing on superhero, sci-fi, and horror shows for a younger audience or schedule mostly soaps for women like ABC, you need to keep all types of audiences satisfied or they will ignore your network. If a block is going to have a female audience, you will have to program something they will like and then if it changes to athletes for the next block, you will have to show a sports film or show. Target audiences also tend to change after each block is complete, making it somewhat hard to find two or three-hour long blocks for longer movies. For example, if you have a sports film that takes up three blocks, you might be able to find two straight blocks where athletes will be watching but then the third hour your audience will switch to women (so that hour will be a low-rated hour if you elect to show that particular film).

I also wish that you knew which audiences would be watching each hour right at the start of the day instead of learning about them just a few hours in advance. This makes it really hard to prepare your programming lineup (and know which movies to buy) and you will likely have to run back and forth from your schedule to the movie library to try to buy something that fits the audience (and often times the library won’t even have what you need). While I’m not bored of it yet, the structure of having to match the target audience each block could also become pretty boring. Once your know what you are doing, you pretty much do the same thing over and over.

However, Empire TV Tycoon does do a reasonably good job of turning the job of a TV network executive into a video game. While I am a big fan of television and movies and thus a little biased, I did have quite a bit of fun playing the game. I had a blast buying and scheduling movies and TV shows I either fondly remember or wish I didn’t remember at all (some of the awful movies and TV shows I have seen in the past). I also loved the pop culture nods to things like Breaking Bad and Back to the Future. Finally, I have to mention the randomized scripts that your screenwriter can come up with. While most of them are clearly terrible ideas for movies and TV shows, they can be really hilarious and often had me laughing out loud at them. For example, a summary of one of my random movie scripts is this: “Neighbor of a Magic card collector deceives him to go to a natural park where a secret party is celebrated. After the party, he forgets his train keys (apparently he just has his own personal train to drive) so he calls his neighbor to pick him up. The end.” What a terrible idea for a movie but it made me laugh.

Should You Purchase Empire TV Tycoon?

If you are like me and want to run a TV network, I think Empire TV Tycoon is worth a purchase as long as you know that the game is pretty rigid. General simulation and strategy gamers (people who weren’t specifically looking for a game like this like I was) might enjoy it as well. With a few more additions (a career mode instead of having to play just a 30 day game in particular), Empire TV Tycoon could have been great. However, it is still a very serviceable game that fills its niche. As for the price, $12.99 isn’t too bad for a game you should be able to get at least 15-20 hours out of. Days in the game move pretty slowly so you could easily spend eight to ten hours on a single game of Empire TV Tycoon.

Pulse
© Pixel Pi Games

Pulse

  • Release Date: October 20, 2015
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Developer: Pixel Pi Games
  • Publisher: Pixel Pi Games
  • Retail Price: $14.99
  • Reviewed By: Eric Mortensen
  • Purchase on Steam:Pulse

In Pulse you play as a young girl named Eva. Eva went blind at an early age and has since learned how to see the world around her through sounds. Eva must traverse the forbidden lands of her people in order to find the truth behind secrets long forgotten.

The thing that really makes Pulse shine is the “sight by sound” mechanic. This mechanic is truly original and creates a really unique experience that all fans of platformers should try at some point. One problem with Pulse though is outside of this unique mechanic and the visual style, the rest of the game is kind of bland. The game is also pretty short at only around two hours long. At a cost of $14.99 that is pretty expensive for such a short game.

While fans of platformers should try Pulse at some point, due to the length I would probably recommend waiting for a sale on the game.

Full Review

Rise: Battle Lines
© The Secret Games Company

Rise: Battle Lines

  • Release Date: October 19th, 2015
  • Genre: Turn Based Strategy
  • Developer: The Secret Games Company
  • Publisher: Digital Tribe
  • Retail Price: $4.99
  • Reviewed By: Eric Mortensen
  • Purchase on Steam: Rise: Battle Lines

Concept

In Rise: Battle Lines two armies compete against one another to see who can wipe out the other player’s army first. Each match begins with the computer randomly selecting a pool of units that both players choose from for the match. Once the battle begins both players give orders to their units at the same time. When both players have given their orders they submit them and both players’ units move at the same time. Players fight until one players wipes out all of their opponent’s troops.

Overall Rise Battle Lines was a solid little quick strategy game. I liked that you could learn the whole game in minutes and most matches only take 10-15 minutes. The idea that both players make their moves at the same time is an interesting idea and can lead to some interesting strategy. The only major issue that I had with the game is that I wish there was a little more variety in combat since battles seem too similar at times.

Being only $5 if the concept interests you I think you can have some fun with Rise: Battle Lines.

Full Review

Sky Break Screenshot
© Farsky Interactive

Sky Break

  • Release Date: October 22, 2015
  • Genre: Action Adventure
  • Developer: Farsky Interactive
  • Publisher: Farsky Interactive
  • Retail Price: $14.99
  • Reviewed By: Eric Mortensen
  • Purchase on Steam:Sky Break

In Sky Break you are a scientist who has crash landed on a planet during your search for a cure to a virus that threatens humankind. The planet you crashed on has a station that you use as your base of operations but all of the robots on the planet have gone rogue and will try to kill you. Most of the gameplay involves exploring the planet looking for materials that you can use to build items that will help you rebuild your spaceship and find a cure for the virus.

Sky Break is currently in early access and in some ways it shows and in other ways it doesn’t. Despite being in Early Access until quarter three of 2016, the game is actually pretty well polished at this time. The graphics look nice and most of the main mechanics are in the game. While I wish the combat had a little more variety it works well. The biggest issue with the game right now is that there just isn’t a lot of story content in the game right now. For the most part you need to make your own fun in the game as you explore and find materials to craft things with. If the game continues to build on its’ solid framework, I think Sky Break could be a good/great game.

At this point Sky Break retails for $14.99. If you don’t mind just exploring I think you could get your money’s worth out of the game. Otherwise I would maybe wait until later in development when there will be more things to do in the game.

Full Review

Square Brawl
© LandFall Games

Square Brawl

  • Release Date: October 22, 2015
  • Genre: Local Multiplayer Arcade Shooter
  • Developer: LandFall Games
  • Publisher: LandFall Games
  • Retail Price: $4.99
  • Reviewed By: Eric Mortensen
  • Purchase on Steam:Square Brawl

Concept

In Square Brawl you and the other players control a square that has access to two different weapons. The game includes several different modes which mostly boil down to kill the other players while trying to stay alive yourself.

Review

Ever since I was a kid I have always liked local multiplayer games. While Square Brawl can provide some fun especially if the players are in the right mood, it has quite a few issues at this time.

Square Brawl does include quite a few modes, guns and stages. While the guns are really hit and miss I appreciate that the game gives you some variety with which weapons you want to use in the game. The game also includes a level editor which is very easy to use. How good your levels are will depend on how creative you are.

While the game includes quite a few weapons, unfortunately they aren’t very balanced. Some weapons are pretty pointless while others are really rigged. The machine gun in particular is highly rigged. Outside of having a huge recoil the machine gun is almost unstoppable. The gun sprays out so many bullets that you will likely destroy any enemy that gets in your way. Usually you can just keep spraying bullets in one direction until you kill all of the other players. Once you discover the machine gun there really is no need to try out the other guns since they are inferior.

Due to the overpowered machine gun I would actually highly recommend playing the game with randomized weapons. Activating this mode gives you two new guns each time you die. This keeps players from always just using the machine gun and it is a lot more fun firing your guns for the first time not knowing what they are. This can also lead to some funny moments when someone shoots their gun and the recoil knocks them off the stage since they weren’t prepared for it.

In addition to some of the guns being rigged, the game has some bugs that need to be fixed (these bugs may have been fixed since the last time I played the game).

The first bug involves players being randomly spawned in areas where they plunge to their death before the match even begins. While kind of funny this is not particularly fair for the player that loses a life because of where their character spawned.

The other major bug I found with the game is that players’ guns would just randomly start firing even if a player wasn’t pushing the fire buttons. This causes two problems. First if you have a weapon that has a long reload time it sucks when the game decides to fire that weapon for you randomly so you have to wait even longer to fire it again. The other problem deals with recoil since the game sometimes decides to fire your weapon at the worst possible time which knocks you down a pit killing you.

While I applaud the game for including computer AI controlled characters, at times they are really stupid. I regularly witnessed AI enemies appearing to get stuck in a loop where they would just keep moving back and forth while doing nothing else. This makes the AI not particularly challenging. I would only recommend using the AI if you need to fill in some spots because you don’t have three other people to play the game with.

Despite having quite a few issues, after a while Square Brawl actually started to grow on me. While the gameplay could have been better, the game was kind of enjoyable due to the complete random events that would occur from time to time. This actually made the game pretty funny when players spawned over pits and gun’s recoil would shoot players off the screen. If you want a lighthearted game you might actually have some fun with Square Brawl.

Should You Purchase Square Brawl?

Overall Square Brawl is a decent local multiplayer arcade shooter. You can have some fun with the game which mostly comes from the complete randomness that occasionally happens. The game has some bugs though and the guns are far from balanced. If you are not in the right mood while playing this game it will drive you nuts.

If you don’t have other players to play the game with locally I wouldn’t recommend the game for you since the game really isn’t that fun if you don’t play it with other human players. Due to the low price of $5 is you are looking for a new local multiplayer game you could get your money’s worth out of Square Brawl.

Sword Coast Legends
© n-Space

Sword Coast Legends

  • Release Date: October 19, 2015
  • Genre: Turn Based Action RPG
  • Developer: n-Space
  • Publisher: Digital Extremes
  • Retail Price: $39.99
  • Reviewed By: Eric Mortensen
  • Purchase on Steam:Sword Coast Legends

In Sword Coast Legends you play as a group of adventurers in the Forgotten Realms of the Dungeons and Dragons universe. Sword Coast Legends is a semi turn based RPG. Combat plays a lot like combat from MMOs like World of Warcraft where the characters automatically attack but you can choose when they use special attacks.

Despite not having much knowledge of the D&D universe I had fun with Sword Coast Legends. While I have only played the game for a couple hours, the game is around 30-40 hours long. While D&D fans probably won’t like it, I liked that the game streamlined some of the rules because the game probably would have been pretty complicated if they used all of the rules from D&D.

If you like semi turn based RPGs you will probably like Sword Coast Legends. With a price of $40 though if you don’t love the genre I would maybe wait for a sale on the game.

Full Review

Toby The Secret Mine
© Lukas Navratil

Toby: The Secret Mine

  • Release Date: October 20, 2015
  • Genre: Puzzle Platformer
  • Developer: Lukas Navratil
  • Publisher: Lukas Navratil
  • Retail Price: $9.99
  • Reviewed By: Eric Mortensen
  • Purchase on Steam:Toby: The Secret Mine

In Toby: The Secret Mine you play as Toby. When a mysterious figure kidnaps all of your fellow villagers, you must chase after it in order to rescue them. Toby: The Secret Mine is a puzzle platformer where you mostly jump and try to avoid obstacles while using objects in your environment to try and solve puzzles.

One of the first things to jump out about Toby: The Secret Mine is that the game looks a lot like Limbo. The game shares a lot in common with Limbo which is not necessarily a bad thing since the developer did a good job making a good puzzle platformer. The game is fun to play and the later levels in particular are well designed. The game isn’t highly original though since none of the game felt like something that I had never played before. Toby: The Secret Mine is also pretty short at only three hours long.

If you like puzzle platformers (Limbo in particular) you should enjoy Toby: The Secret Mine. If you purchase the game at retail or wait for a sale will depend on how much you value game length.

Full Review

Notable Games

Here are some notable games released on Steam this week. In order to be classified as a notable game, the game either has to be a release that a lot of people would be interested in or the game has to do something unique that makes it stand out from all of the other games released on Steam this week. Since I have not played any of these games I can’t verify if they are good or bad.

Ashes of the Singularity (Early Access RTS)

BEARZERKERS (Early Access Action Multiplayer)

Carrotting Brain (Early Access Action)

DICETINY: The Lord of the Dice (Board and Card Game)

Giana Sisters 2D (Platformer)

Gnomes Vs. Fairies (Early Access Action Adventure)

Gremlins, Inc. (Early Access Strategy Board Game)

Kingdom (Simulation Strategy)

KINGDOMS (Early Access Open World)

Knights of Pen and Paper 2 (Turn Based RPG)

Message Quest (Point and Click Adventure)

One Final Chaos (Platformer)

Overlord: Fellowship of Evil (Action RPG)

PixelJunk™ Shooter Ultimate (Twin Stick Shooter)

Rebel Galaxy (Space Action RPG)

Robbery Bob: Man of Steal (Casual Action)

RPG Maker MV (Game Development)

Shallow Space (Early Access RTS)

Sir! I’d Like To Report A Bug! (Action Platformer)

Spider-Man™: Shattered Dimensions (Action)

System Shock: Enhanced Edition (Adventure FPS)

Tales of Zestiria (JRPG)

Timber and Stone (City Builder)

Viscera Cleanup Detail (Simulation)

Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide (Action Co-Op)

Wurm Unlimited (Open World RPG)

The Rest

200% Mixed Juice! (RPG)

3d Engineers (Building Simulation)

A-Train 9 V4.0 : Japan Rail Simulator (Train Simulator)

ALPAGES : THE FIVE BOOKS (Zombie Action)

Alpha Polaris : A Horror Adventure Game (Horror Point and Click)

Ampersand (Racing)

Armor Clash (Early Access RTS)

Auto Dealership Tycoon (Simulation)

The Big Secret of a Small Town (Casual Puzzle)

COAST GUARD (Simulation Adventure)

Cold Dreams (Horror Adventure)

The Coma: Cutting Class (Survival Horror)

Command: Northern Inferno (Strategy Simulation)

D/Generation HD (Adventure)

Dad Beat Dads (Action Local Multiplayer)

Deathless: The City’s Thirst (Choose Your Own Adventure)

Deathstate (Rogue-Like Bullet Hell)

Descent: Underground (Early Access FPS)

DISTRAINT (Psychological Horror)

Divine Slice of Life (Visual Novel)

Dolguth (2D Brawler)

Dracula’s Legacy (Hidden Object)

D.U.S.T. (FPS Simulation)

The Dwarf Run (Turn Based RPG)

Fairspace (Space Exploration)

Farm Mania: Hot Vacation (Casual)

Fiends of Imprisonment (Puzzle Stealth)

Flight of the Paladin (action)

FreeCell Quest (Casual Card Game)

Heavy Fire: Shattered Spear (Rail Shooter)

I am Weapon: Revival (Early Access Action)

Ironkraft – Road to Hell (Early Access Car Brawler)

Island Tribe (Casual Simulation)

Jane’s Realty (Casual)

Kagura Douchuuki (Rogue-Like RPG)

Legends of Dawn Reborn (Action RPG)

Little Big Adventure – Enhanced Edition (Action Adventure)

Little Big Adventure 2 (Action Adventure)

Lost Legends: The Weeping Woman Collector’s Edition (Casual Puzzle)

Mu Complex (Hacking Adventure)

Mugen Souls (JRPG)

Murder (Point and Click Adventure)

Noct (Survival Horror)

Oncoming Death Steam Edition (Early Access Action Adventure)

One Hundred Ways (Puzzle)

Playing History – The Plague (Casual Adventure)

Poker Pretty Girls Battle: Texas Hold’em (Poker)

Roads of Rome 3 (Casual Simulation)

The Rollingball’s Melody (Music Platformer)

Save the Creatures (Casual Strategy)

Shadows on the Vatican Act II: Wrath (Point and Click)

Star Sky – ブルームーン (Casual Adventure)

Tracks and Turrets (Early Access Action)

Turtle Odyssey (Action Adventure)

Vector 36 (Early Access Racing)

Voxel Blast (Action)

Zombie Exodus (Choose Your Own Adventure)

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