Couch co-op remains an intriguing prospect in today’s medium; the dominance of Live services such as PSN, Steam and Xbox Live essentially remove the purpose for multiple controller handouts between friends. It’s a welcome change, but it’s also something that many people see as lacking. Nothing was as every good as the old days, gathered round a single TV playing simple but fun time-sinks. The feeling is prevalent in Blockpocalypse, but its overall execution so far is very lacking.
I do need to get something out the way first, on the negative side. This game is extremely hard to get working. This is mainly due to the fact that there appears to be no single player (i tried my hardest to set up a local lobby with just myself but to no avail), forcing you to rely on friends. There appears to be a matchmaking service, but numerous times it hit me with the classic ‘Connection has Timed Out’. So that avenue wasn’t open either. I resorted to buying the game for a friend, in order to actually play the product. There is a tutorial, but that too has issues and I didn’t want to believe AT ALL, that it was representative of the final game.
It definitely represented half of it. I’ve kept an overall open mind to the game, as it is still in Early Access. I do believe that first impressions are still extremely important, such as was the case with Agony, which while brief provided me with an excellent insight into where the game was going. Blockpocalypse has achieved the same here, but far less positively. After wading through the issues and clunky set-ups, i finally got into a survival game with my friend where we both got the gist of the game; you have to build your way to safety from the oncoming apocalypse. It’s a very neat and simple idea actually, and its represented beautifully. The pixel art on show here is superb, not letting the simplistic art style act as an excuse to show less visual fidelity to the player. Bright characters, detailed flow animations and a wonderful color pallet selected for the apocalypse does its job very well. I’ve always appreciated when simpler-styled games aim above and beyond with their art style, and Blockpocalypse is no exception in this regard.
When i say ‘build your way’, im not referencing Minecraft or any other digger-type game. You’re limited amount of controls allow you to move, pick up objects, place them and jump. Using those 4 main controls is all you really need for success; the rest of it comes from teamwork. It was a wonderfully fun time rapidly exchanging verbal fisticuffs with my friend as we frantically tried to create stair-cases out of all these random objects, only for us to die anyway. It’s a more appropriate example of ‘5 minutes of fun’ than Zombie Estate 2 was, as you can easily hop on with a friend, do a few small games, and then carry on with your day. Nothing feels too dragged out more than it needs to, but sadly, i feel that part of that is due to that there is nothing else to drag it out to. The game is bare bones in terms of content right now, with only a handful of modes and locations at your disposal. There are several characters to select, but there are run-of-the-mill and painfully meta, with references to the Left Shark from last years Super Bowl being present.
Again, it needs to be constantly reminded that this is early access and should be treated as such. I do however feel like it’s up to the developers discrepancy as to how much content they should release on their initial launch, and in this games case, there is barely anything to make a large impact. The purchase to buy or ignore the game will come much closer to a full release, when gamers can properly judge the contents of the final package.
For an initial premise, Blockpocalypse feels like it could be promising. Emphasis on the feels. Nothing actually is right now; it presents itself as an enjoyable throwback to when friends can just play together and have very simple and short fun with each other. If that’s all the game will eventually offer, then that’s perfectly fine. This world could use with a bit more simple and short. But it needs to do more than present, it actually needs to provide. More content, more mechanics, more QoL changes, and just anything that makes this game stand apart from the crowd, and it will be in my Steam library on release. Otherwise, the game wishes it could make an apocalyptic impact.
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