Review : Terra Tech (Early Access)

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Gameplay video:

Happy New Year friends! Looking back on 2014, I must admit that two of my most played games were Rust, and Robocraft. The building, the crafting, the military tactics involved in the combat, the tooth and nail struggle for survival. It all really grips me in a way I can’t fully explain. As I was digging through the Steam Store, I came across a demo for Terra Tech… On a whim, I decided to give it a try, and my entire world was electrified. It’s an amazing mix of survival, crafting, building, and combat. You cruise the landscape searching for resource nodes to blast apart and take back to base… If you venture far enough you’re sure to bump into an alien ship intent on sending you packing back to Earth. Should you defeat the alien tank, feel free to scavenge any parts that weren’t blown to smithereens in the fray, and use them to make your own ship bigger, faster, stronger. Exactly how awesome is it? Let’s find out as we check out more of Terra Tech.

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The tutorial is basic, but it is exactly what it needs to be. Receiver to offload items, delivery cannon to send items to Earth in exchange for cash. There’s a refinery to refine items, fabricator to uhh… fabricate them. I think you get the picture. Brevity is levity, even in video games and I think they nailed that much. At no point did I feel the least bit overwhelmed by the information offered to me. Even if you don’t read a single instruction, the game is laid out in a way that feels intuitive, and you’d probably be able to figure it out solo with just a few minutes of clicking around. The graphics are a cartoony sort of sci-fi that holds together quite well to create a great aesthetic, though I will say the combat music feels somewhat out of place. A robo-battle over an outpost on an alien planet doesn’t exactly make me think of banjos and guitar, but that’s what is delivered. Still, some out-of-place music won’t deter me from becoming the ultimate robot master!

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Aside from the visuals, the gameplay is relatively good too. I enjoy the dynamic placement of the parts, although there has been a time or two that I’ve pulled the wrong block away and turned my whole vehicle into just a heap of blocks and weapons. Maneuvering your craft is as easy as you make it, and while I feel the combat could use some work, the prospect of it doesn’t scare me away from heading out to gather further from home. The crafting of weapons, and the thought of that next unlock kept me playing this game for hours on end. It never fails to offer that “just one more turn” feeling that all games strive to create. I am constantly in search of the next easy coal seam, and on the lookout for the next enemy looking to end my little craft’s existence. “If I could get some hoverpads I could fly over the enemy, but I can only craft two, and if one is hit and blown off… It’s over.” Oh yea, did I mention it’s a permadeath game? Deeeelicious. The threat of needing to keep enough biofuel on hand to keep your shield functioning is the coup de grâce, and leads to an enticing gem of a game that will keep me scrambling back and forth across a part-strewn wasteland of my own making for a good time to come.

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There are a few key negative points that I feel should be pointed out, the awkward battle-theme, the grind for space-dollars, the near-relentless enemy threats with terrible AI, being able to improve your craft in every way but not your base… and the fact the aiming feels almost like a chore. However, the battle theme is an artistic choice, and the grind keeps players invested. The last few points are the most troublesome, but there is plenty of time for final tweaks to be made before the actual release. I absolutely love this game. I anticipate cruising across the plains, forests, and deserts with my buddies… Crushing any opposition and adding their power to my own. It’s like Highlander for robots! How can you not get uncontrollably stoked for that?! Awesome work Payload Studios. Keep it up, I can’t wait for the final release!

Summary: Highlander for robots. Defend resources, crush foes, and steal their parts to increase your power-level.

Final Score: 9/10 for gameplay, replayability, game-design, and aesthetic. 10/10 with improved combat & enemy spawns/AI.

Terra Tech will be released on Steam Early Access in Early January, 2015.

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