Early Access Review: Besiege

Besiege is a construction game developed and published by Spiderling Studios available in the Steam Early Access program.  As many of you know I have something of a soft spot for building games that encourage creativity, and while the janky physics of Besiege might not scratch that proverbial itch entirely, it is nonetheless a great bit of short-form fun.  Its quite stable and functional as is, and is notable for an Early Access game in that.  So without further ado, lets go through things.

Besiege's constuction mechanics are quite easy to use,
while simultaneously having an interesting amount of depth

The central premise of Besiege is that you are presented a level with one or more objectives, and you have to build a siege machine to acheive them, be it destroying a building, killing NPC warriors, or traversing a minefield.  The construction tools themselves are roughly voxel-based I suppose, in a mtter of thinking, relying upon a series of blocks: from basic structural ones, to steering hinges and blocks and their accompanying wheels, a variety of weapons, and flying apparatus.  Assembling the machine is remarkably intuitive, with a model that makes gluing together the various parts very easy.  You can also fine-tweak these blocks, such as the speed and direction wheels spin in, for a variety of affects, and that gives an impressive depth to the game, despite it being rather simply to put to use and implement.

The key here is between snappy response times when you actually begin to play your destruction demo and getting back into construction when everything goes a little wrong is what makes this game so easy to get into, and get addicted to for that matter.  Creative engineering is an iterative process of experimentation, and this game makes it incredibly easy to go back and forth from testing to the drawing board to testing again with very little problem, and not even but a moment's of loading time as it reinitialises the building grid and resets things.  That responsiveness makes the game pretty addictive really.

The variety of different mission goals keeps things fresh

One of the things I noticed almost immediately in Besiege was how the missions present quite a variety of goals and ways to keep things different and interesting, exercising different capabilities and combinations thereof in each mission.  It ramps up at a decent but not overwhelming pace and it keeps the feeling of achievement as you learn more and more of the various blocks and controls present.  A lot of games in the genre can become quite repetitive quite quickly, and while I can't say there isn't a certain repetitiveness that sinks in eventually, but the game musters a very admirable effort in staving it off.

The fact that you have to invent new vehicles every time, or at the very least might be a sticking point for some, as I can see the appeal to many of trying to build a single "uber" machine that plows through all the levels, but the fact that it would take some foresight and skillfullness with the construction and parameter adjustment of the various blocks makes it all the more an achievement when you do manage such a machine.

While I'm not as much a fan of
the "mobile" art style, it's pulled off quite effectively in Besiege

The blocky and "arty" mobile art style, heavily influenced by the cartoonish look of vanilla World of Warcraft, is something that is getting as long in the tooth and as overdone as the MMORPG franchise that spawned it, but to it's credit, Besiege pulls it off with some flair and style.  It looks good, plays well, and the few effects it does have are pretty neat looking, such as the explosions.

Probably the unexpected thing here is it performed quite brilliantly even when everything starts breaking, as significant damage or physics simulation tends to bug down GPUs and/or processors, but I didn't see any significant drops in framerate or other sluggishness even when the most ridiculously over-wrought of my contraptions inevitably fell apart in spectactular fashion.

The lack of content is the one main flaw of Besiege

Basically what you get now with Besiege is the core gameplay and two areas of a couple handfuls of "maps" each, and while those missions are fun, there's not much to do other than perhaps go through them again with different machines.  A sandbox map of some variety as well as additional mission areas are locked off presently with the promise that they are in development, so there definitely looks like there will be that content in the future, however as is now it's fairly thin on content.  That said, given the price of the game (7$ CAD at time of writing) I can't really say it feels grossly overpriced, especially given that there's a lot of fun to be had in reinventing new contraptions to solve the various different problems.

The Final Word: Recommended - As is now, Besiege is a fun run of two sets of a couple handfuls of missions, each exploring building  machines in different ways to solve different problems, and the building is snappy and intuitive, the controls responsibe, and the framerates good.  The only real complaint I have with it is the lack of content and a sandbox mode, but even as is, for the price, it’s a fun little romp, and I’d recommend it regardless.