It appears that, lately, we’ve become awash in free-to-play games. Let’s face it: people want to play for free, those same people are getting over the idea that ‘free’ means ‘garbage’, and with rich gaming engines like Unity, small developers are able to build epic experiences that only large teams could build years ago. Enter City of Steam, a new freemium web-based MMO (read: not tied to Facebook) that takes place in a sort of post-steampunk world. And guess what? We’ve giving away access for the game’s next Alpha wave next weekend.
In my introduction to the game, I was shown around by copy writer (and man of many hats) Gabriel Laforge, one of thirty developers at Mechanist Games in Xiamen, China. (Laforge himself is Canadian while others hail from New Zealand, the United States, and other points around the globe.) City of Steam could be described as a post-steampunk (this world is far beyond that technology, now) hack-and-slash title not unlike other dungeon crawlers, but the density of the world and ability for hundreds of players to be on concurrently lends the game a sense of scale, even as it was just the two of us wandering around. The game is based on the writings of Mechanist’s general manager and lead developer David Lindsay, whose lore has described the “World of Machine” the game exists on as a disc of interlocked gears with mountains and terrain formed on top. That’s right.
Depending on your race, you’ll have a different, personal motivation starting out in City of Steam. As a Riven (characterized by their blonde manes), I was on a train (the game calls them ‘railhaulers’) to Nexus, the metropolis this game takes place in, to cure my ailing mother. Running from car to car in the railhauler, the game tutorialized, informing me of a demonic threat that was creeping into this world. And then yes, I fought a demon. Arriving in the lowly armpit-stink suburb of The Refuge, it was here that I began my adventure. I don’t need to spoil it for you, but between instanced dungeons, cutting up clockroaches (geddit?) and working quests to clear up my own personal space, there was a lot to dive into.
Get access to the City of Steam Alpha!
The game is still incredibly early at this stage, so there’ll be some things that simply don’t work or aren’t included yet, but it’s still a solid experience so far. The camera floats, so you get a variety of options to see your character. Unfortunately, this can be disorienting at times and Gabriel said they’re looking into locking it, based on player feedback. The game is evocative of the original Fallout, or as Gabe pointed out, Arcanum: a similarly-themed RPG from the Fallout developers who split from Interplay at the end of the nineties. One major issue I had with the camera is that I often felt distant from the action and the characters and I could never find a clever solution that worked well for me in all instances. This meant that, at times, it felt like I was interacting with totem poles rather than real characters in the world. Again, the game is still super early and much of what the game becomes will be based on your feedback!
UPDATE: The last alpha weekend is over!
We have a few access codes to give away for the game’s upcoming Alpha Weekend coming up Friday, August 17th to Sunday, August 19th. Want in? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page and we’ll make sure to get a code out to you pronto!