In this weeks podcast we Hey, Hey, Hey it up with Maylee, Paul and Rani discussing the news and new releases. Paul and Maylee lead a discussion of Psychonauts 2, while Paul waxes lyrical on The Artful Escape.
This week Paul takes over Zed Games. Together with Zahra they discuss the news and Firmware updates, then Zahra takes over the helm reviewing Black Skylands before Paul traps us with a review of Webbed.
This week Ezie takes over and brings in a new voice, Eliott! Together they take on the week in gaming news, give us the Old One-Two on South East Games’ Paint the Town Red, and press play on Paul’s review of The Forgotten City.
This week Zahra’s locked in the studio for Lockdown and discussing the News, as well as reviewing Evolution. We also get Rani’s awaited review of Immortals Fenyx Rising, and a heartfelt sendoff from Zahra themselves.
Developer: Wube Software
Publisher: Wube Software
Music: Daniel James Taylor
Platforms: PC only – Windows, macOS, Linux
Released: 14th August 2020
Genre: Simulation / RTS / Building / Management / Tower defence
Factorio in my house has a reputation, for my wife knows I will be lost for two days, rave of mathematical ratios and alien biters, and somehow gain the focus of a cramming uni student abusing caffeine and amphetamines.
But what is this, my game of 2020 and drug of choice?
Factorio was successfully crowdfunded in 2013 and released into early access on steam in early 2016. I first played Factorio later that year after binge watching youtubers creating vast belted megafactories. Visually, it is a top down, 2.1D isometric game like RTS games circa 1999, while also having a dreary diesel punk aesthetic. Despite this the world is rich with biomes, natural fauna, and easily identifiable resources to feed the factory.
Game play wise it is a beast of real-time strategy, automation, resource management and base defence.
The basic premise of Factorio is that you have crash landed on a planet and need to survive. This is really only present in the tutorial and when you set off your first rocket, the endgame trigger. The rest of the game is the dieselpunk version of Man Vs Wild while you set your mind to the machinations of the machine, engineering an extravaganza of a mega-base while protecting yourself from the natural life forms attracted by your pollution and hell bent on destroying your creations.
To create your first factory you mine, belt, chop, hand craft and build before progressing to automating with belts, inserters, and trains. The final step, if you are brave enough, the birth of true automation with flying robots, wires and storage all controlled through logistics and programming.
Your factory is now vast and consuming, both in resources and time. You stare bleary eyed at not only how long you have been staring at the screen, but how many hours you have now accumulated in your steam profile. Calculations and spread sheets strewn across your desktop as you have calculated the exact ratios of ore to final products.
This game captivates the engineer in me. The organisation to compact and replicate, modularise and expand. But I’ll be honest, I play on peaceful. For without this, those biters, worms and spitters come in ever increasing waves. They expand and search for weaknesses, and one day you look up from your hard work and hear the alarm and they’re chomping at your power station and everything goes dark.
Speaking of sound, the atmospheric sounds are inconspicuous. I don’t mean that in a bad way, rather everything sounds right for the situation. Footsteps on grass, sand, concrete and metal all sound right for the situation. The intervals between the musical interludes are filled with the wind in the wilds, or if you are in your factory the hum of machinery and belts, the crackle of arching electrics or the soft bells of sonar from the radar tower.
The musical composition of Daniel Hames Taylor highlights the desolation and feeling of isolation while still remaining calming and optimistic, it is also memorable and repeated enough so that years after playing, reopening the game and listening to the game’s music brings back instant nostalgia to the hours of gameplay you previously invested. However, should the music grate on your psyche, as in most things in this game, there’s a slider for that.
Overall while I’m sure you can tell I enjoy the game there are some teething issues for new players. The controls and key board shortcuts are extensive and while the tutorial shows a good selection of the basics, the huge selection of inbuilt shortcuts can be overwhelming to learn. There’s also little after the tutorial to tell you what or how to do things. You are left to your own devices, a research tree, and your own brain to guide you. This tends to lead new players to restart their first map a few times before getting into their stride. And when you set up your map everything has a slider, from the progression of the biters to how rich ore patches are, how many natural cliffs, water fronts and trees you need to cut down, destroy or pave over to expand your ever growing factropolis.
The developers Wube Software continue to actively develop the game, while also developing new toys and squashing bugs. The modding community is also highly active and can add different gameplay loops and complexities to your engineering marvel.
If this has wet your whistle for a play you can find a demo available at factorio.com, or you can buy if from that same website or from steam.
In studio: Razor, Lee may, Tom Maclurcan.
This week, Joel Mehonoshen, game design student at SAE QANTM and lecturer/game developer Anthony Wood join us for a discussion on video games marketing and the role education plays in the fluid environment of video game development. Lee reviews ABZU, a quiet adventure game set at the bottom of the ocean.
Aired 17 August 2016.
In studio: Lee May, Razor and Tom Maclurcan.
Razor reviews I Am Setsuna, a spiritual successor to one of the the greatest JRPGs of all time, Chrono Trigger. Tom and Lee talk INSIDE an atmospheric puzzle platformer from the makers of the critically acclaimed LIMBO.
Aired 27 July 2016.
In studio: Razor, Candi and Lee.
Lee reviews Submerged (PC), a third person combat-free game where you explore the mysterious ruins of a flooded city. Razor talks Grow Home, a quirky climbins-simulator about a robot trying to climb a giant plant back to it’s home planet.
Aired 9 September 2015.
In studio: Razor, Lee, Jody Macgregor & Candi Payne.
Alex Norton and Nathan Hall of Fluffy Knuckleduster join us for a chat about the origins of their brand new development studio and their first game, Wizzed Off.
Lee reviews Xenoblade Chronicles for the New 3DS.
Aired 12 August 2015.
In studio: Lee, Jody Macgregor, Candi Payne, Razor and Alanah Pearce.
The dark knight returns for one last romp around Gotham City in Batman: Arkham Knight (PS4/XB1/PC). Alanah Pearce returns from self-imposed exile to help Lee and Razor review the concluding chapter of Rocksteady’s “Arkham” series. Jody reviews BiT Evolution , a retro 2D platformer that pays homage to the evolution of video games.
Aired 1 July 2015.