ARK: Survival Evolved

ARK: Survival Evolved

Summary

Learn to survive on an island full of dinosaurs. Hunt creatures, gather resources, craft items, and build structures. You can also tame, breed, and ride dinosaurs in this open world sandbox game.

Review

ARK is an Early Access Game, but it already feels like a complete game. It has a huge community of players, gets updated very frequently, and can keep you entertained for hours upon hours. There is even an alternate play mode called Survival of the Fittest, which is essentially The Hunger Games in a world with dinosaurs.

My biggest complaints are that it is a resource hog (the developers are actively working on improving the game’s performance) and that the world is a fixed map and not destructible (not a big deal, but it would be nice).

I was really skeptical about ARK at first, but it’s a lot of fun. Highly recommended!

Taming Penelope
Taming my first dinosaur, Penelope the Parasaur
Character Screen
The character screen
Riding a Trike
Nick riding Timothy the Triceratops

You might like this game if you like…

Want to play?

$29.99 on Steam (Early Access)

TUG Early Access: Alpha 0.8.2

TUG is an open-world sandbox crafting game that I funded on Kickstarter. It’s been a while since I last played it, so I wanted to see how the game is coming along. TUG is in early access, so of course the game is still very much a work in progress.

TUG: Stone furnace

Current version (Alpha 0.8.2) feedback

TUG: Smooth caves
Smooth, curvy caves

The good:

  • The world is large and fun to explore, with many different biomes.
  • Crafting is interesting and complex.
  • When mining, it leaves smooth, curvy caves that look a lot more natural than mining large voxel blocks.
  • Goats!

The bad:

  • Still no tutorial or tooltips, but the wiki is helpful (especially for crafting).
  • Controls are a little wonky and unintuitive.
  • There is a 3rd person view (press “x”), but it doesn’t seem as usable as 1st person.
  • Shortcut bar only has 4 slots.
  • No character customization yet.
  • Fires don’t last long enough.
  • A saber cat ate me. :'(

Version 0.8.2 trailer

Want to play?

$19.99 on Steam | $9.99 (for now) on Humble Store & developer’s website

Contraption Maker

Contraption Maker

Summary

Solve puzzles with ridiculous Rube Goldberg machines using lasers, crocodiles, flying saucers, zombies, and more. In each level, you are given an objective (like, blow up the pumpkin), a partially completed contraption, and a set of parts to add to the contraption to complete the objective.

There are 160 official puzzles and thousands of user-created puzzles available via the Steam Workshop that you can play single-player or co-op multiplayer with your friends.

Welcome to Contraption Maker

Review

Contraption Maker is a fun and goofy puzzle game. The puzzles haven’t been terribly challenging, but I haven’t gotten to the hard difficulty puzzles yet (or any user-created puzzles). I’m not a fan of the cartoony and childish look of the game, but I get that it’s meant to appeal to kids as well as adults.

At $1.49 for two copies of the game, Contraption Maker is a steal. It includes Steam Trading Cards, so you’ll even recoup some of the cost. It’s a good game and I recommend it (especially at the current sale price), but it’s not one of my favorites.

You might like this game if you like…

  • Rube Goldberg machines
  • The Incredible Machine computer game series
  • Motors powered by hamsters
  • Physics
  • Solving puzzles
  • Feeding bowling balls to bears

Want to play?

$1.49 on Steam for two copies of the game (90% off during Steam Autumn Sale)

TUG Early Access: Alpha 0.5

A year ago, I helped fund TUG, a multiplayer open world sandbox RPG, on Kickstarter and I just got my Steam Early Access key! Since it’s in alpha, it’s pretty crude right now, but it’s fun to see how it’s coming along.

Current version (Alpha 0.5.3918) feedback

TUG Bamboo Forest
Bamboo forest

The good:

  • The procedurally-generated worlds are pretty neat and varying.
  • You can interact with the environment and use resources to craft tools and weapons.
  • Multiplayer support!

The bad:

  • There isn’t a tutorial or tooltips yet. I figured out how to gather resources on my own and eventually figured out how to open my inventory (by pressing “E” for some reason), but crafting is not at all obvious. Thank goodness for a helpful wiki! 🙂
  • The drain on hunger felt excessive. My poor little character kept starving while I was figuring things out.
  • No 3rd person camera view yet, from what I can tell. It’ll be in the finished game, though. Hurrah!

Overall, I think TUG has a lot of potential and I’m really excited about it. They have lots of really cool ideas (like characters that change and grow based on their diet and how you play them) and I think the finished game is going to be awesome.

Early access trailer

Want to play?

Get early access to the game + the full game at launch for $9.99 on Steam.

Stonehearth: Alpha 1

Lasy May, I helped fund a sandbox strategy game called Stonehearth on Kickstarter. A co-op multiplayer RTS RPG with town building, crafting, and epic battles?!? Yes, please!

Stonehearth workers sitting around a fire

They released the first Alpha release (Alpha 1) this week. The game is pretty basic and a bit buggy right now (as is to be expected with an alpha) and there isn’t a way to save your progress yet. Nevertheless, it was fun to play around with it and get a feel for the game. It didn’t take long for my workers to lose interest in building their house, stop following my orders, and gather up in a big pile, though! Yay bugs! 😛

Stonehearth: Setting up a base camp
Setting up a base camp
Stonehearth: Crafting menu
Crafting menu
Stonehearth: Worker pile-up
Uh oh! Worker pile-up!

If you want to play Stonehearth yourself, you can visit their store to pre-order the game (September 2014 estimated release date) and get access to the alpha.