Tobold's Blog
Friday, December 08, 2023
Against the Storm

This is just a short shoutout for the game Against the Storm, which is leaving early access today. I very much recommend this game, especially if you are looking for a new angle on city building games. The combination of city building and rogue-like elements works really very well for this game, which limits the cities you build to a reasonable size and complexity. The different biomes and conditions make every new game different and interesting again, and the "between games" system of progression is also very well done.

I have been very much impressed by Eremite Games, who have for over a year now produced a good sized patch for Against the Storm every two weeks. Their support for this game is exemplary. And by taking into account player feedback, they have fine-tuned the different elements of the user interface to near perfection. I have already played it for 160 hours, and that won't be all.

Note that while I consider the $30 price tag on Steam very reasonable for what you get, Against the Storm will also be available from today on via Game Pass.

I played it for about 40-50 hours, mostly in short bursts after updates during early access and overall it's a good game. Yet for me right now in 1.0 release state I have conflicting thoughts about the game. It sort of optimized for 1-1.30 hour game chunks where you're working on settlement based on rng resources/blueprints/cornerstones provided. After which you will inevitably leave behind all that and start a new one. This core gameplay loop is fun (and comfortable) experience for me for an evening of play.

There are a few ways they set up to expand on this core loop and I hate all of them.

- Going up with prestige levels feels like punishment. I already have trouble selecting blueprint from 4 choices, and on certain prestige I will have only 2 choices? Paying amber to open glades? Goods sold to merchant costs 50% of their value?
Sure, it can work as a challenge, but you start to treat a game like a puzzle, and it usually involves abusing the game mechanics to their breaking point where there is no longer fun.

- Seals. In order to attempt the seal you most likely need to finish all the settlements successfully, but that means you need to play 5-6 hours before you can even attempt the seal and if you failed at any point(you don't have enough fragments) need to start again. On higher seal level you need more settlements finished faster for the bonuses, which is just a major pain in the ass.

- Daily expeditions. Sometimes good, usually just masochistic.

- New ironman mode. For people who think Prestige20 is too easy.

Looking through all the new builder games that are coming out I can say it's one of the better ones, but only in small doses for me.
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