Volcanoids First Impressions: Great Game That Needs Content

Volcanoids, a new steampunk survival game available through Steam Early Access, has many great ideas, but it is just too short on content at this stage.

Volcanoids is a new steampunk-themed survival game available through Steam Early Access. It introduces a cool type of vehicle called the drillship — your own private subterranean vessel that can dig through the crust of the earth and take you basically anywhere.

There is no time to waste, however, as your character has a very important mission: to uncover a mystery surrounding an erupting volcano. It is a dangerous task, and you must prepare well before getting into it.

If this little synopsis grabbed your interest, then you can find out more about Volcanoids by reading our early impressions on the game below.

Story and Setting

Imagine an island populated with an idyllic society and everything a human soul needs. However, out of nowhere, strange tracks appear on the ground. Nobody knows where they have come from or what their discovery might lead to.

Shortly after finding the mysterious tracks, a volcano that was lying dormant in the center of the island starts erupting like it's the end of the world. Everything that people built gets destroyed in the blink of an eye, and living on the island becomes impossible.

But somebody has to find out why these eruptions started in the first place, and if there is a way to stop them. This is where the game starts, and you, as the main protagonist, must go out there into the danger zone, collect resources, and build your own drillship to help you investigate.

Once constructed, you can use your weird new machine to traverse the island's underground world, entering caves under the mountains that serve as lava sources for the volcano. In the process, you'll begin to unravel the mysteries of the tracks and the volcanic eruptions.

As you progress through Volcanoids' missions, which are carefully laid out on the screen, you'll get to see the entire island of Adranos. While the world does look quite good for an Early Access game, one thing really sticks out as reminder that the title is not finished: the lack of content populating it.

Specifically, if you follow the main storyline, and don't spend too much time on exploration, the whole campaign will take only four to five hours to finish.

Gameplay Mechanics

Most of your time in Volcanoids is spent gathering resources for your drillship. Fortunately, the game kindly shows you the direction and the distance to the closest source of coal, copper, iron, and the other materials that are used to craft all the necessary modules.

On your way to these resources, you will face opponents that have their own drillships. These enemy crafts can be raided for resources, and, at times, you can find entire modules that can be used in your drillship.

Unfortunately, the weapons available for combat are lacking, as you have only a shotgun for dealing with adversaries. At least that's something though.

The journey for resources is made additionally challenging by the volcano, as eruptions happen every 20 minutes or so. You really need to find cover inside a ship before an eruption occurs, or a massive heatwave will kill you in an instant, forcing you to load your save game. The good news is that there is a timer on top of the screen showing you the countdown towards the next eruption.

In time, your drillship will grow to significant sizes, which will require more and more resources. This is where the game stumbles, and you start to feel the limits of the design. That said, it's, of course, understandable that the Early Access game is only the preliminary version of the game; an introduction before the actual release.

The crafting system is also a bit clunky. For example, in order to craft anything, a player is required to switch between different modules. This means that you will spend time and energy changing from your storage module, where you keep all of your resources, to your refinery module, which processes all the raw materials, to your production module, which is responsible for the actual crafting.

Furthermore, you need to carefully balance all the modules and maintain energy at a high level. This involves frequently switching off modules after certain operations have been executed, and, if you forget to do it, then it will keep draining your ship.

Simply, there's a lot to keep in mind when dealing with all of these gameplay mechanics. In the end, you may be left with doubts if all of them are really necessary.

The Verdict

Pros:
  • Drillship is an exciting new concept vehicle
  • Managing ship's modules can be a lot of fun
  • Gorgeous environments
Cons:
  • Main campaign is too short
  • Resource gathering and crafting can get annoying
  • Lack of weapons

It would be wise to wait on purchasing this game until the developer adds more engaging content and significantly expand the story mode.

The latest reports indicate that Volcanoids will have a multiplayer component in the future, which is really exciting. Also, it would be a great idea to let players drill freely under the ground, which is currently not possible. You can only travel towards given coordinates.

This wishlist can go on for a long time, but it simply shows that the game has a lot of potential. Volcanoids has many great ideas, but it is just too short on content at this stage.

[Disclosure: Writer was granted a copy of the game for the purpose of this article.]

Correspondent

Sergey has been a freelancer in the video games industry for more than five years, writing for various publications around the world. His favorite games are MtG, Dark Souls, Diablo, and Divinity: Original Sin. Sergey doesn't own consoles because a PC is all he needs.

Published Feb. 7th 2019

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