Game Review: Besiege
There’s a certain crude elegance to the war machines of medieval warfare. So what happens when an indie developer releases a game that allows you to create medieval siege engines? You get Spiderling Studios’ Besiege.
Besiege is a sandbox construction/destruction game where you are given the freedom to build a machine to complete objectives. Gameplay of this early access title is split into two parts: construction and execution.
The first thing that strikes players in the construction part is the appealing and intuitive user interface. It’s something we wouldn’t expect even from a full release title, much less an early access. But you need to master the fiddly camera controls is needed to make construction a smooth process. Additionally, many of the mechanical blocks look similar. You will have to spend time hovering your mouse over each block’s tooltip just to know their function.
Uniquely, unlike most sandbox construction games, there are no pre-made creations in Besiege. The game compels players to create something original, or they could manually copy another player’s machine from the internet.
In execution, players manually control their machines. Controls range from simple up/down/left/right movement to mainupulation of hinges, cannons, wheels, propellers and even spiked “grabbers”, to name a few. This can result in a simple machine having 1 to 3 hotkeys to control every component.
The timescale setting allows you to exert finer control over your machine by slowing down in-game time. Conveniently, it also alleviates the significant lag caused by complex or fast-moving machines.
Gameplay wise, players use their war machines in levels with a list of objectives. The game gratifies players with a rapidly filling progress bar as objectives are achieved before climaxing in a fanfare of trumpets when the mission is completed.
Levels can seem daunting but the unrealistically fragile nature of everything (except those blasted stone towers) quickly dispels apprehension. With nothing but a simple car, we somehow destroyed the first level’s cottage with a single touch.
But that doesn’t mean the game is a walkover. Besiege’s innate fragility also applies to your machines. Parts of your siege engine can be damaged by enemy attacks or fire, crippling your beloved creation. Most of the time, your weapons of war will be their own worst enemy. Be it a design flaw or an error in execution, you will find that machines are able to destroy themselves far more often than buildings or enemy battlions.
Each level also has its own unique objectives, forcing either adaptation of your existing machine or the creation of a new one. By the final few levels, you’ll be racking your brain for creative solutions and praying for luck.
For now, the game ends abruptly at the fifteenth level. The developers have an assortment of content lined up for the future, such as “The Moon”. However, there is no need to rush out the level packs yet because Besiege has immense replay value.
Even before the campaign’s completion, we were replaying levels and experimenting with different approaches. You’ll be asking yourself questions like: “Can I beat this level with a flying bomber?” in no time.
But should players find themselves short on inspiration, it can be easily supplemented by the hundreds, if not thousands, of creations circulating within the game’s already massive community. If you’ve dreamt of it, someone has probably built it. Caution: Feelings of inferiority will arise after viewing other’s polished masterpieces.
Besiege isn’t just a construction game containing extreme cartoon violence, like a digital, gory version of Lego. It’s a platform that breeds ingenuity. It invites innovation and ensures innovation never feels like leaving. It whets your appetite to try new approaches as any idea may just be crazy enough to work in Besiege.
With the numerous upcoming updates adding more building parts, additional levels, replay sharing, online leaderboards for level timings, multiplayer levels and all manner of new features, Besiege is set to own its place on your hard drive.
And best of all, all this is available to you on Steam for only $7.50
Practically unlimited customization
Slick user interface
No replay system
Lack of content (for now)
Operating System: Windows, Mac OS, SteamOS + Linux
Tell us what you think of Besiege and what game you think we should review next in the comments below!
By David Goh