Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Gemcraft Chapter 2: Chasing Shadows --- Flash Ryview

Gemcraft Chapter 2: Chasing Shadows, by Gameinabottle.

Gemcraft Chapter 2: Chasing Shadows is the long awaited sequel to the Gemcraft franchise. I have previously detailed the history of Gemcraft, so I won't rehash that now, but I will frame this ryview mostly as a comparison to previous games, as far as what has improved and what's new.

First off, a quick note: I love this game, I think it is fantastic and I definitely recommend that any tower defense fans play it right away. That being said, I'm extremely displeased by the release date changes. Gameinabottle does a terrible job of keeping its fans notified. There were frequent release date delays (it was originally slated for 2013, it only recently came out in April) and for the last week before launch it was past any published release date and there was no update about it. I think it's very unprofessional to ignore the fans of such a high profile game, without even giving so much as a "Sorry, got delayed again, check back for updates" post. That literally just took me 10 seconds to type. How hard would it be?

Anyway, now that I've vented a bit, I would like to point out that the game is released, so that drama is behind us, and we get to enjoy the game. It is a fantastic improvement on all of the previous titles, taking the best from them and adding to it.

Map tiles are always better as hexagons

The basic mechanics have remained the same. You place gems in towers to destroy enemies as they advance towards your Orb. You have a singular resource for money and health, and there are still ancillary buildings/items that give color to different levels and slightly change gameplay.

Ultimately, the game would get repetitive if not for good level design. The maps are still as fresh as always, giving a healthy mixture of challenge and fun. Walls have returned from Labyrinth to assist with catering levels to the player, and there are still amplifiers/traps/nests placed in levels to keep the experience unique. Also, this sees the return of only have a few gems available to use in each level, adding complexity to each level as you have to update your strategy to match the given gem types.

I love that there is now a way to grind your way to victory, even if it is quite slow. Your leveling xp is still based on your best playthrough of a level (although now unspent skill points help you in each level, a nice new feature) but there are also new items called shadowcores, which you can spend to apply battle traits to missions or upgrade your talisman. Your talisman has a finite number of slotted upgrades you pickup during your journey to give you upgrades in battle, typically modifying damage to certain enemy types. So you can play the first level 50 times and get 3 shadow cores every time, while getting 0 extra xp. I like that it's an option.

Wait, so I can pump them full of poison AND leech mana from them? Best game series ever...

I also like that there are easy to assign game speeds. It helps the game flow at a speed that the player chooses. I like that the field has a very easy to see grid for tower and building placement, that's a very nice feature to help avoid annoying problems with placement. I like that the xp is shown during the game, and I love the detail of the scrollover text during the battle summary page. It feels very polished and the fact that each item is scrollover means that the screen remains relatively uncluttered.

Similar to Labyrinth, you have to purchase the premium content to unlock endurance (and some other goodies) and I'd say it's worth it. I would recommend playing the game a bit before deciding, because you don't want to waste your money on a game you don't like, but if you enjoy the game you'll probably find the premium content affordable and worthwhile.

The broken system in Labyrinth of applying insanely high modifiers to endurance maps is now scaled back because you have to pay shadow cores to use battle traits, and I feel that helps hamper the break, although having utilized it in the past to quickly level up in Labyrinth I am sad to see it go.

All in all, I don't have any major complaints about the game. It feels very polished, I'm excited by the story, there are more achievements than I can count (and each one gives a skillpoint), and it's really just more gemcraft, just upgraded with better animations and features.

If Gameinabottle keeps to a realistic, transparent release schedule next time, I'll have precious little to complain about while they create games of this caliber.


Time Value
Money Value
Final Score

Let me know what you think of Gemcraft Chapter 2: Chasing Shadows!

Until next time,


No comments :

Post a Comment