Review : Boid (Early Access)

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Video Review:

Most RTS games are extremely complex. Often you need to accomplish A and B before C can be completed. Boid takes an entirely new spin on an old favorite by simplifying it into something that is easily digestable, even if you only have a few minutes to sit down and play. The accessibility of Boid is certainly one of its strongest tenants. Basic units come from Spawn Pools, then they are put into a larger pool to turn them into the class of your choosing as identified by the symbols. The classes are quite varied, though most maps don’t feature all the classes at once. Scouts are fast but lack defense, Crabs have massive attack but low speed. There are healers, poison-support units, and even kamikaze bombers! Figuring out how you prefer to coordinate them is great fun, and there is really no wrong answer which leads to a world of replayability. Once you have a sizeable force, you can set them up as a barricade to repel enemy intruders. The troops will need to be reinforced after each skirmish, which kept me delightfully rushing about the pool upgrading units and trying to keep my army of microorganisms bolstered enough to repel any danger. Some classes do counter each other, which means you’ll probably want a mixed regiment of units to protect each of your spawn pools. If all you have is Crabs and Basics and an enemy Bomb shows up, they’ll all be blown to smithereens… One shot with a ranged Gun unit could’ve saved them if only I had the foresight. This class-based RTS is simple, fast-paced, brutal, and I love it. Let’s take an even deeper look at Boid.

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One of the first things I feel I should mention is the online multiplayer. Currently there is only a 1v1 mode, but any game that is released with the capability for some raw PvP gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Bots send tiny regiments of units to scout your defenses, however most player fights end up as a giant war of attrition. While bot battles are usually short and succinct, PvP battles can rage on for upwards of thirty minutes. The center of the battlefield becomes a killing field, wave after wave of units, some too young to even have a class, sent to die for your glory. It reminds me a lot of trench warfare, both players sacrificing everything they have in order to gain just a few more feet of leverage. Then, just when you think you’ve pushed them into hiding, a regiment of scouts executes a flanking attack that decimates your forward force. The action is extremely tense, which impresses me to no end mostly because of the simplicity of the graphics. Everything is portrayed in minimal detail, but at the same time, nothing feels left out. At no point did I feel confused about if a unit was functioning, from the Bomb’s rippling explosion to the Medic’s healing wave, everything feels wonderfully pieced together. Currently the map selection is minimal, but Steam Workshop support will soon be added, allowing you to create your very own microscopic battleground.

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Unfortunately, the game doesn’t have any background music during the actual battle. The music that is offered during the selection menu is quite fitting though, and when ordered to move the different classes will utter unique cries of confirmation. You start to feel connected to your microscopic minions. Proud of their victories, though when they are defeated it is only due to your tactics. Strategies must be shifted based on the layout of the map, and the spawn/class pools. The game never felt over my head, and even features a brief tutorial. I’m extremely impressed at how easy it is to isolate a class, or break off a regiment from your main force. There are red pulses on the edge of your screen which let you know if you’re being attacked, and in which direction. If one you capture a pool, or get one of yours taken the entire screen will flash. There are very important minor details that make the game feel much more alive, especially when facing a top level player. A squad of Scouts can be sent to distract at one spawning pools, while the bulk of your fighting forces takes another. I desperately want to see four-player maps with every unit available. Currently the price sits at $3, which is unbelievable for what is offered. The price will increase when workshop support is added, and again when single-player campaigns are finally offered. My suggestion would be to jump on this bandwagon as soon as possible. Boid offers a swarm of fun and can only get better. I’m positive that with Workshop support, this microscopic game could blow up bigger than it ever dreamed.

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There is little to say negatively about Boid. It does feel a bit bare bones, but for a recently released Early-Access title it is extremely playable. The player-base is currently quite tiny so you might be waiting for a while to hop into any PvP battles, but hopefully that will be remedied in-part with this review. I feel that the class UI could be cleaned up slightly with the addition of hotkeys, since the cursor really does need to be everywhere at once in this sort of action-RTS. Right now the game can become anything, and while hope springs eternal, reality is usually a lot less kind. I hope to see different modes implemented aside from direct obliteration of your opponent. Perhaps a hard-point or capture-the-flag gamemode? Then there are the aforementioned bigger maps… Boid looks to me like to will be able to deliver. Much care obviously went into its creation. As proven by the variety of options to select from, including something called “Colorblind Mode”, basically changing all the green/red in the game to blue/yellow… An interesting concept, but one I didn’t end up applying, even as a colorblind person. Still the gameplay is blazing fast fun, and one would be crazy to complain about MORE options. Thanks to tinyBuild and Mokus for a fantastic game that will keep me coming back for a long time to come.

Summary: Aquatic RTS with a lovely minimalist design, and plenty of potential.

Final Score: 7/10 for aesthetic, replayability, and tiered goals/pricing.

BOID was released on Steam Early Access starting Jan 8th, 2015.

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