Volcanoids is a steam punk first-person crafting and action shooter. It is developed by Volcanoid and is currently available on Steam in early access for $19.99. This early access analysis was conducted by Joseph Pugh.
Volcanoids is an interesting concept, at a glance, it looks like a survival game, yet you won’t find any hunger or thirst bars here. If you die, you reload a save. Instead, it’s very much a progressive crafting game with a wonderful steampunk flavor, something I’d like to see more of in games.
Co-op and Multiplayer are planned to be added in the future but you have access to a single player mode that you can actually complete right now. The game also features difficulty settings. The lower ones have a very nicely done step by step tutorial that incorporates real gameplay into your learning experience.
You arrive on a submarine, ready to investigate the island. The submarine always has some basic facilities for you to use but never moves, you need to find and commandeer a drillship to be your mobile base of operations.
The drillships are a core part of Volcanoids identity and really sells its SteamPunk setting. Drillships are massive mechanical machines capable of going underground and traversing the island. They are also integral to your safety, the volcano in the center of the island erupts periodically and you must seek shelter underground.
Mechanical soldiers called cogs also inhabit the islands with their own drillships and you will spend some time raiding them. Different drillships have different classes and you will need to destroy and salvage their technology to research for your own gain.
The Drill ship you pilot is a customizable base that you will upgrade and expand with several types of facilities and defensive turrets. I say pilot, but I don’t want to give the wrong impression. If you break the process down it’s basically a type of extremely flavorful fast travel. You pull a lever to go underground, set some coordinates and the drillship travels there.
It’s actually pretty neat. The ship visibly tilts and moves as it travels and if you have added segments to it, which are basically train cars. It winds and tilts like an underground train in real time. Volcanoids does an amazing job of making you feel like your inside this steampunk world.
The volcano erupts on a timer based on your difficulty setting. After seeking safety underground you will find that the world is scorched with a very different visual effect after an eruption. It slowly changes back to normal until it erupts again. It’s another neat atmospheric trick that I really appreciate.
Sadly the game is planned to be in early access for two years. In my opinion, I feel that a game needing that much more time in the oven is probably too early to show. This isn’t always true, Rimworld being one such exemption, but Volcanoids is a prime example of this being an issue.
There isn’t anything wrong with the game per se, it’s actually quite polished for whats there. It is, however, quite bare bones. You spend your time collecting resources to craft new facilities on your drill ship and gather coal to power it. You then collect parts to research from the COGs, to build upgraded facilities to move to a new area and repeat.
The problem is, aside from a couple of new weapons, the upgrades are pretty much identical to the previous tier with no real gameplay differences. You simply go from collecting a tier one resource to a tier two. Managing the facilities can be fun though. You have to manage power distribution, refine raw resources and use them craft everything else.
Your drill ship can become damaged, But it’s mostly from wandering cogs. Actually being raided by cogs is a planned feature for a later time. The gunplay is very basic, I appreciate the sound and visual effect of shooting a brass robot. But it’s mostly just stand and shoot as the cogs run at you, pause, for a shot and continue. Cogs have varying levels of toughness, but enemy variety is nonexistent.
Volcanoids is an incredibly polished framework to be built upon. It oozes steampunk flavoring from the visual effects, sound, atmosphere. The drillships are an interesting and fun concept that is very well designed. It is just shallow currently. The developer has been very active with updates so far, and has provided a detailed roadmap of what wonderful steam punk goodness is to come. Which is wonderful.
Yet two years is a pretty long time and the game is in a very early state. What’s there is genuinely interesting, it just needs significantly more meat to its bones and that makes it difficult to recommend right here and now. However, I think if it’s the type of game that interests you, you should certainly add it to your wish and follow list.
If you cant get enough punk but want less steam. Check out my review of WoodPunk!
- Great Steam Punk atmosphere
- Playable main quest
- Multiple difficulty settings
- Drillships are a fun new concept on base building
- Excellent tutorial.
- Very early and lacking content
- Combat is very basic
- Upgrades are currently uninteresting
- Lacking enemy variety