Whenever I see the name B.P. on the PSN Store now, I dread making that all-important purchase and download. I fear that the latest title from Lightning Game Studios is set to be another disappointing release at best and at worst another travesty that should never have seen the light of day so it was with trepidation that I added Steam Lands to the collection…
Having released games in a wide range of genres already, Steam Lands enters another for Lightning Game Studios being their first foray into the world of the side-scrolling shoot-em-up. As with all their releases, you’re thrown pretty much in at the deep end with no plot, or instructions being left to figure out what to do for yourself, it’s quite a simple game and easy to pick up and get into so you can just concentrate on getting on with playing the game itself.
You control some sort of creature (honestly, that’s the best way I can describe it), traversing a steampunk influenced never-ending environment that is scrolling past. Approaching towards you are a number of other creatures and the sole objective is to either shoot or avoid them. Collisions with any of them will lose some of your energy and once all of that is depleted then it’s game over. To start off with, the game plods along at an incredibly dull pace and this is probably it’s biggest weakness. Your adversaries are few and far between, move towards you along fixed horizontal paths and are easy to shoot or dodge. Shoot one and a few points are added to your score but here comes the novel twist – you also earn experience points.
As you earn these points you level-up automatically and while you don’t gain any extra weapons or other abilities as you might expect, it does do one thing… upgrades the game itself. Put simply, as you level-up, the attacking creatures speed up and more of them begin to appear on screen increasing the pace of the game dramatically and once you’ve progressed through a few levels the game soon runs at a more than healthy pace. At this point, as things are starting to get a little hectic and it becomes harder to escape unscathed, health pickups are provided at random for you to pick up along the way to boost your flagging health meter.
Visually this is one of the better games from the developers with reasonable background graphics and while nothing is overly impressive, there is nothing offensive to the eye either. While they may seem a little over-the-top considering the source of them, there are some nice explosion effects used for each creature that you destroy as well, accompanied by suitably loud effects. The only real downside is the music and they’ve once again resorted to using one of their stock pieces that’s already been used more than a couple of times in previous games.
The big surprise I found were the controls used. Apart from having to use the touch screen to start the game, the game itself is played entirely using the analogue stick and X button to fire. While this may not seem like a big deal (and certainly this shouldn’t be something to celebrate) it’s good to see that Lightning Game Studios are finally learning from their past mistakes at least on this front.
I have to be honest and say that this is the best game to come from Lightning Game Studios so far although judging from their past releases that isn’t saying a great deal. That aside, it is a mildly entertaining shoot-em-up for a little while even if it does become repetitive very quickly and becomes more of an endurance battle with any real lack of clearly defined goals or levels to complete. However, the game does seem to be relatively glitch free which is certainly a step in the right direction for the developers and while offers nothing remarkable it’s not something that you will find immediately repulsive to your gaming tastes.
Well, that’s what I first thought but things quickly changed thanks to the help of an observant Vita Player reader… it turns out that Steam Lands is actually an existing game written by Petri Wilhelmsen as an online Unity tutorial for Windows, complete with all of the graphics and sound made available for anyone wanting to follow how to create the game. Everything that was needed to create the game from the character animations, background and all the code was there for the taking so all Lightning Game Studios had to do was put everything together, compile it and send it to Sony for evaluation and for that we’re expected to pay £3.39. I’m not denying that it wasn’t something that I didn’t have some fun playing but this simply wasn’t their work and they are passing it off as such and from my understanding, the same seems to apply to some of their other releases.
I originally gave this game a higher score than it now has prior to learning of its origins but considering that Lightning Game Studios are now aiming to profit from someone else’s work, it is something that I simply cannot condone regardless of what I may think of the game itself.
At A Glance
- Title: Steam Lands
- Publisher: Lightning Game Studios
- System: PlayStation Mobile
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: N / A
- Cross Play: N / A
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 28Mb