Review: The Mims Beginning (Early Access)

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Video Review:

The life of a God doesn’t sound too action-packed. Probably pretty routine and slightly boring if you think about it. Then again, you’ve never lorded over a tiny alien sharecropper farm on a small slab of asteroid. Owned by a crew of crash-landed aliens called the Mims, you will soon be call to aid them in defending it from every other form of life out there. Once you’ve established your ramshackle farm, you begin to branch out. First a few more workers, maybe an upgrade to the city hall. Oh, you need to have a trading port! The game is cutesy, but much deeper than the child-friendly design would lead you to believe. Eventually an alien metropolis spreads out as far as the eye can see. Farm animals swarm the gardens, devouring anything they can in order to grow strong and be sold to what I assume is a cutesy alien slaughterhouse. The tiny Mim workers, and the tough Mim guardians, all working in harmony within the little slice of heaven that I’ve so benevolently created for them. Maybe you see a worker or two slacking off? You’d be perfectly within your rights to burn them with a fire spell. How else will they ever learn right from wrong? It feels good to be a God that’s so involved! Whether you are a benevolent ruler, or a vengeful one, The Mims Beginning is a real pleasure to play.

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First off, I’d like to state that I’m quite impressed by the graphics that indie studios can put out these days. This game has been in development for 3 years, and while the age shows slightly, it is far above the average indie game. The buildings are strangely designed and outlandish, just like the little orange minions operating them. The multitude of pests and predators that will eventually make an appearance pulls it all together and makes for a nice comfy experience that is pleasing to the eye. I feel a lot more could’ve been done with the sound. The soundtrack is passable, mostly because I’m largely distracted by the beauty of my adorable alien empire. Don’t let appearances fool you though. This game doesn’t hesitate to teach you through pain. After building a village for thirty minutes, it is pillaged by spiders. How did this happen? Glad I asked. The gameplay mechanics at work here are intricate. To build almost anything, you need either Gems, Biomass, or both. Farming Biomass involves creating a garden, the fruits of which can be thrown into an Extractor. The resulting Biomass currency can be used for a multitude of things, but you will always be in need of more. So you plant even more fruit trees. Eventually the pests show up because fruit has been sitting under a hot alien sun, and pursuing the pests are predators which won’t hesitate to devastate your town. Predators can clear a lot of pests, if you have an infestation don’t hesitate to let them do some dirty work. They can also clear a lot of Mims, so keep a watchful eye and have a haste or heal spell handy.

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The other form of currency is received by selling farm animals at market. This requires a spaceport and a bio lab, and if they aren’t built with your first handful of Gems it’s basically a game-over. I feel this requires reevaluation but tweaks and balance changes have been promised so I won’t judge that too harshly. Aside from all this farming business, sending minions to work or combat, controlling the electrical grid, and averting natural disasters with your ability to predict the future… A truly good God will find time to better his underlings, teaching them skills. He will bring new Mims to replace the ones that have fallen in combat or a misplaced PSI spell… Even if I did sort of do it on purpose. I’m sure even immortal beings are permitted a small giggle of laughter when watching an adorable alien scream as he plummets into nothingness. The Mims have some silly one-liners during cut-scenes that let me know this game has a good humor about itself. It also covers two genres that are sorely lacking, RTS and God-likes. I count The Mims Beginning as a cool breath of fresh air for lovers of both genres, as long as they aren’t afraid to enjoy some downright silliness.

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On the negative side; the music seems quite generic, which simply shouldn’t be the case on an alien world. Survival mode is not yet implemented, and story-mode levels take a long time to beat. About or more than thirty minutes for each one, so not the type of game you can pick and and play if you only have 10 minutes (though this is likely to change with survival mode). The Mims have their own personalities, but as far as I can tell each one looks almost identical. Making them more individualized would add a great deal to the experience for me. Finally, the camera controls threw me off as well. Q and E are used to zoom in/out, while panning can only be done by mousing to the edge of the screen. Despite its few flaws, I found The Mims Beginning to be an extremely intriguing game that never failed to capture that “one-more-turn” feeling when close to unlocking the next structure or upgrade. Wonderful game, and a big thank you to the folks at Squatting Penguin. I hope that The Mims Beginning is just the start for you guys.

Summary: Alien city-building RTS with adorable graphics and deep strategy.

Final Score: 8/10 for aesthetic, replayability, and innovation.

The Mims Beginning will be available on the Steam Early Access starting January 14th, 2015.

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