Gearstorm, by Iron City Games, is a sandbox, survival game in a post-apocalyptic, fully destructible world. The shooter game has single player and multiplayer options with zombies, alien dinosaurs, multiple metals, guns, vehicles, and world editing modes. Here’s a preview of my experience of the early access title.
I began on a ship hovering over a planet. Figuring out how to move took a second. The hallway holding me contained a floating Roomba, graciously giving me the lowdown and the options in front of me. After traveling for 1,300 years, the ship wakes up everything to go and repopulate on a foreign world. A tutorial could teach me the power of the BuildGun, or a drop pod could take me to the beachhead.
The latter was chosen.
Actually, before I left, further exploration was rewarded with vehicles, from tanks to planes, each handling differently, but easily.
Then, I left the ship.
Next, I learned how to slow the falling speed of my pod, ran out of gas, and crashed onto the new planet. The General gave me the BuildGun, I completed “scanning” a tree to death, and immediately ran away.
The next few hours with Gearstorm, I tested this so-called fully destructible world. And I have to say, I’m impressed. I made a giant tunneling hole down as far as the game would let me until I hit the orange, liquid-like bottom.
When I finished with my fun in the hole, the rest of the world was before me to explore. I encountered weird deer, large dinosaurs, and marauders, who killed me very quickly. I swam out into the ocean for Uranium, climbed the icy mountains for a good view, and checked out an underwater cave (sadly, nothing there). The landscape is set up like Minecraft, with a small biome for each elemental climate to give the world just a little bit of everything from dense forests to barren wastelands.
When I looked around for info on the game, players were bragging about lots of zombies, but my current play-through had none of them. That was until I realized I had put the difficulty on peaceful. The entire game changes on hard. Let’s just say, you come out of the pod swinging.
The building portion was a bit tedious to master. There are many buttons designed for intricate construction. The limits for what you can make are just about endless.
Sadly, I can only speak for the single player experience, because no one was online. There are parts I know about thanks to their website, like the trading system that allows you to place bounties on other players. But according to their site, as a host, you have total control over people and objects. You can teleport people, spawn any object and make up quests.
Sound is important for Gearstorm. With a day and night cycle, enemies come camouflaged, invisible, or attack from afar. Essentially, hearing them is half the battle. While mining the endless earth, a special noise pings when a rare metal has been harvested. Plus, the music is awesome.
Graphics have managed to look clean and impressive for a small indie team. The faces on the humans aren’t impressive, but on the Iron City Games site, they’ve admitted to not strive for next-generation textures and shadows. Despite this, the game’s look is appealing, while remaining functional.
What’s cool is the ability to switch between first-person and third-person views whenever you want. The developers wanted this game to be a huge success and are constantly working on it and adding new things frequently.
Gearstorm is a survival game with a new twist. Overall, I didn’t find anything that blew my mind. In fact, in spite of my good points, I failed to mention the challenges I faced, dealing with lost connections and items floating in the air. Sometimes, when loading the map, the game froze a couple of times and I had to start over again.
Even though the area was small, finding out where to go from the Roomba was left up to me. I personally liked the freedom, but other people may lose interest with having to figure things out for themselves.
I’m keeping my eye on Gearstorm to see where it’s going. Perhaps there will be more to see underground besides orange fluids and gold.