Crafting and survival games are something I like. It was from the day I started ARK : Survival Evolved, way back in 2015 when it was in Early Access. I didn’t hesitate to try out many of the “Early Access””crafting””survival” games on Steam despite the Internet going rife with hate for them. So when I saw Volcanoids, I was pretty impressed, and immediately decided to play it for myself and see how it worked out. Like all others, the game has its own ups and downs.

Volcanoids is a crafting survival game. The game had released on Steam in Early Access on January 29,2019.

Gameplay Modes

Volcanoids does not have distinguished multiplayer or singleplayer modes in its current state. The only mode it has allows one to play in singleplayer in a defined mode which plays much like a campaign mode, though it gives freedom to the player to explore and achieve objectives in their own way.

Volcanoids does plan to add multiplayer in the new future, and it is mentioned to be a prominent feature in the actual release for the game. The game in its present state, however, doesn’t have the feature.

The singleplayer is based on a campaign, where the player is among a group of people evacuated from a town called Adranos based on an island. The town used to be a busy port, but somehow intense seismic activity and volcanoes led to the population deserting the island. Years later, with the help of funding, the player returns as the captain of the Archimedes submarine to reclaim Adranos and find out the true cause for the volcanic eruptions. It is funny that no mention of the drillships is made in the introduction, even though they are the backbone for the storyline.

Mechanics

Volcanoids is a game where you drive a drillship to reclaim your homeland riled by volcanic eruptions. You’ll reclaim your island, which is victim to constant seismic activity,and try to retake it with the help of drillships. Reclaiming the island means destroying lots of pesky robots, and other malicious folk that are out to claim the resources unearthed by the volcanic eruptions using their own drillships.

The drillship is a vessel on which the entire game depends. It’s a steampunk engine with a big drill fitted on its head, having the capability of pulling several compartments of load. Each compartment has space for modules, which add to the functionality of the drillship.

There are several types of modules, each performing its own function and helping in its own way. The modules allow you to refine resources, craft stuff, and even defend the drillship from mean robots which try to kill you whenever you come up against them. Some modules need to be connected mutually in order to properly function, which means you cannot randomly place a number of modules in any place in the drillship and expect stuff to work. For example,the production module is used for production of goods, but it needs to be connected to a storage module to draw goods from it. The storage module, in turn, needs to be connected to a refinery station for the purification of raw materials into usable forms like ingots. You can attach a limited number of modules in a ‘compartment’, which can be extended by attaching additional ‘compartments’ and extending the drillship. Every module has a specific function which makes them necessary additions, like the power module for generating power to power other systems within the drillship, or the turret module to defend the drillship from the many rogue robots that walk freely on the surface.

The crafting system is quite detailed, which involved mining resources, refining them, then using the refined resources to craft the required stuff. You can craft a variety of stuff from weapons, modules, upgrades, components, ammo and even random decorations for the drillship. Why shouldn’t you decorate your only home in the land of volcanic eruptions?

The game’s construction and crafting revolves mainly around getting better gear and upgrading the drillship. You are not free to design anything else other than the drillship itself, which cuts into the freedom for a game based on survival. The drillship is not allowed to move to locations other than certain fixed points which can be pinpointed on a map, and that is something that removes the freedom to approach the objective at the player’s own pace.

Every few minutes in the game, the volcano on the island erupts, covering the ground with ashes. Some special resources can only be found after an eruption, like sulphur, which is actually necessary for crafting advanced resources. To prevent getting damaged from the eruption, it is necessary to dive underground in the drillship. Note that while underground, no construction or repair operations on the drillship or any of its compartments and modules can be performed.

Sounds and Music

The game does not have music in-game, and only seems to have it on the main menu. The main soundtrack is pretty decent. In fact, you’ll feel the lack of it in-game, because for some weird reason, the developers decided that listening to music in-game distracts you from your objective of trashing a few robots and finding out the truth about the volcanic eruptions that destroyed Adranos.

The game’s sound seem to have a low bit rate, meaning that its quality is not as good as it could have been. This is evident in bullet sounds, and when you’re mining minerals.

Graphics and optimization

The game’s art style is pretty and innovative. Every module has buttons on them, which can be used to interact with the module. The button has the perfect function written on it, so you do not need to push a combination of buttons or remember a set of buttons to be pressed before you actually get a module of the drillship to do something. The steampunk theme is even reflected in the buildings and robots that oppose the searching party to Adranos pretty accurately. The graphics, however, fails to live upto its name. The textures used in the game are pretty low-poly, which is clearly visible when you see them up close.

The game was tested on the following configuration :-

CPU : Ryzen 5 2600

GPU : GTX 1080

RAM : 16 GB DDR4

The game has quite some bugs and glitches, but that can be expected since it is is Early Access. There was a bug that makes the entire game slowdown when you fire a gun. The game also had quite some performance issues especially when the volcano erupts, resulting in severe frame rate drops. The developer actually listens to the community though, and has managed to fix the slowdown bug with a new update, which has also optimized the game a bit more, reducing the framerate drops during the gameplay.

Final verdict

The game’s campaign is pretty short, there is no functional multiplayer, and there is very less content to actually play around with, for now. However, the developer is one that eagerly listens to the community, and implements fixes as requested. If you’re one like me, you can hop on the Early Access ride and play the game as more content is added. Or you can stay out, wait for it to be finished, and then get it.

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