by Ade McT profile

Science Fiction

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
A very strong free SimEarth-type game with substantial additional paid content, August 15, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: more than 10 hours

(Caveat: I played a final (non-beta) version of this game without graphics right before it was released).

Wordsmith by Ade McTavish is a very, very good game. In 2014, the author released Fifteen Minutes, which was one of the best difficult puzzle games in a long time, an intricate time travel game involving half a dozen copies of yourself. Then, in 2015, he took 2nd place in IFComp with Map, a mostly puzzle less but big story-based game that was emotionally powerful.

In this game, he's combined his best of story, setting and puzzles. The game has a free version and a commercial version.

In the free version, you create worlds in several stages, like Sim Earth. Your solar system ages over time, making different planetary orbits more or less favorable over time; you can make a planet for each orbit out of different alchemical materials. You then try to create a form of life that fits that planet , and then you teach the life culture and skills until, hopefully, they develop interstellar travel.

I found this thrilling, well-written (with procedural generation) and difficult. Fortunately, with 6 orbits in each solar system, it isn't too hard to get one to interstellar travel.

The game seemed to require a big info dump at first, which put me off, until I just ignored it and experimented. This worked much better; I should have thought of the book you get as a reference guide, not a book to be read back to back but to be consulted.

As for the commercial portion of the game, it's just getting started after the world building ends. You explore an absolutely huge, 7-level space station with a sprawling plot involving a widespread conspiracy and opposing forces.

I found the world building fascinating, although it was hard to keep track of the various locations; this should be a lot easier with the graphics in the finished version. I especially got lost in the ground floor a few times, as the building rotates.

There is a complicated card game in the finished version which I have yet to try, as I found an alternate path around that part of the game.

Overall, I recommend this game, and would rank it around the level of Blue Lacuna or Sorcery!.

Edit: I forgot to mention that this game uses graphics in a way not seen in parser games ever. The graphics respond to commands in this game in an extremely useful way. It's a technical masterpiece in this sense.