Early release games have been ballooning in recent years, in part because many gamers enjoy the first-look and game-testing feel. Not to mention that frequent updates are fairly exciting, since they have the potential to completely morph gameplay. They aren’t for everyone, but early release games are here to stay. Here’s a few that happened to catch my eye.
“Slime Rancher” $19.99 on Steam, for PC, Mac and Linux Created by Monomi Park, “Slime Rancher” is a nearly disgustingly cute exploration farming game. What kind of farm? A slime farm! By wandering about islands connected by rickety boardwalks, you and your trusty vac-pack can collect slimes, food for slimes or slime plorts (slime poop that looks like gems) to trade in for money. Build up your slime ranch with multiple varieties of slimes, breed combinations and fight the omnipresent threat of tars. “Slime Rancher” is a colorful, single-player diversion with frequent island expansions — the latest update is scheduled to come out later this April. It may not distract from one’s studies long, but “Slime Rancher” is a fun, adorable way to kill a few hours.
“Road Redemption”$19.99 on Steam, for PC This game is a violent, hilarious and occasionally buggy motorcycle race in the old vein of arcade games. A collaborative effort between multiple studios, including Epic Quest Games, Pixel Dash Studios, Dark Seas Interactive and IP-Builders, this game has both single-player and multi-player modes (both online and local co-op), but was definitely made to play with friends. The controls are a bit hard to get the hang of, and bugs happen fairly often, but in a world where trucks can fly through the sky, crushing racers that are competing for most “kills” while on their bikes and one of the player options is a Shovel Knight, it hardly makes a blip in the enjoyment. Whether you want to play a quick campaign race with a roommate or hop onto the soon-to-be beta online multiplayer to show off some riding skills, “Road Redemption” is an enjoyably flawed romp into the world of racing.
“RWBY: Grimm Eclipse”$14.99 on Steam, for PC Many college-age gamers have probably heard of “Red vs. Blue,” a show created by Rooster Teeth. Another show, with almost as much of a fanbase is “RWBY.” A hyper-stylized anime about high-schoolers training to fight, “RWBY” caught the imagination and adoration of YouTube watchers around the world. As such, Rooster Teeth Games came out with “RWBY: Grimm Eclipse,” a hack-n-slash journey through the world fans came to love with playable characters directly from the show. Most games based on movies and TV are destined to fail, but “RWBY: Grimm Eclipse” has the perfect balance between doing homage to its source while exploring new territory. Designed to be multi-player, “RWBY: Grimm Eclipse” copies the exact form of the anime, providing beautiful in-game art and voice acting. Enemies abound and terrify, and different characters provide completely different techniques in dealing with their foes. “RWBY: Grimm Eclipse” doesn’t update often, however, with the last update on March 8 fixing mostly trivial problems. Overall, “RWBY: Grimm Eclipse” may be something worth the wait, but only time will tell.
“ARK: Survival Evolved”$29.99 on Steam, for PC, Mac, Linux, PS4 and XBox One “ARK: Survival Evolved” is by far and away the most complete and complex game on this list. An open-world survival game that pits players against carnivorous dinosaurs, hunger and the weather, “ARK” provides hour upon hour of entertainment. Both single- and multi-player online, Studio Wildcard has created an intensely difficult but endlessly rewarding game. By letting players tame and breed well-known dinosaurs and prehistoric mammals alike (think T-Rexes and sabertooth tigers), while riding upon the backs of lesser known historic monoliths like giant scorpions, “ARK” definitely delivers. Exploration and crafting are an emphasis, and “ARK” loosely follows the feel of a prehistoric MMO RPG, but one that doesn’t have any clear quests beyond surviving and thriving. Building within the game is difficult to get the hang of — like the entire game really — but almost unlimited. On April 1, their latest of frequent major updates, introduced three new species and a varieties of other fixes and features. It’s definitely worth the download.