Well, I broke my no early access rule recently so I could be distracted by Wayward
, a survival rougelike. You can play a free version
in the browser. I wanted a new survival thing and I read it had a steeper learning curve than Terraria.
In Wayward you are a castaway who washes up on a randomized turn-based island with randomized tools who has no memory except... treasure. The game's difficulty is controlled by a malignancy/benignity point system. Destructive actions like mining, chopping down trees, and hunting peaceful animals earns malignancy (negative) points, nurturing actions like farming and foraging give benignity (positive) points. The island is kinder to those with positive scores, but if the number drops into the negative the island becomes increasingly angry and more powerful enemies (and ultimately bosses) spawn. It's an interesting system that gives the player control of the difficulty level. There is a default hardcore permadeath option and a casual option with endless lives. You are awarded certain permanent bonuses when you pass milestones (like survive x turns, craft x objects), and these bonuses can affect your starting stats, skills, and inventory on future games.
The reviews for this game were spot on
. The game is difficult in that it has a learning curve and realistic implementation of things like encumbrance. You can't just run around with 500 boulders in your pack. Going in blind, I died a bit and wasn't really sure what to do, but I kept experimenting and trying, and once the game's rules and mechanics began to click it was a lot of fun. Discovery is a huge part of the fun and the community is very spoiler-conscience, but I can give you one non-spoilery tip: if at first you do not succeed, try, try again. This goes for actions like mining or harvesting as well as general play. I recommend the permadeath option because dying over and over helps you experiment with new starter tools and learn from your mistakes. Once you get the hang of it and you know some tricks starting over isn't a big deal. I've found I prefer playing that way. Casual mode takes some of the sense of urgency out of emergency situations.
Wayward has really piqued my interest in roguelike games in general and there is no shortage
. A lot of these games have been in ongoing development for years (sometimes decades), so many of the titles are perpetually betas/early access while still being fully playable games--early access is part of the culture basically. I still have complicated feels and reservations about early access games but think this genre pulls off the "buy this unfinished game!" thing better.
Wayward is not ready yet, but the core components are there and it is really close to what I wanted, a turn-based top-down pixel-art hybrid of Starbound/Stardew Valley/Star Tropics?/Something Something (that's a lot of stars). That's a pretty
specific ask and I haven't seen anything else like it.