Games of the Year

Subaeria

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Subaeria is an intense action puzzler with roguelike-elements. Players use their wits to manipulate their enemies into destroying each other. They'll have to be smart in how they approach different situations and think strategically on how to use their environment and abilities to defeat their enemies. Players follow Styx, a young girl who’s out for revenge after her family is murdered by the overlord of Subaeria. She must fight her way through droves of murderous robots by pitting them against one another. As she progresses towards her goal of revenge, she’ll explore the underwater city of Subaeria to uncover the mysteries that lie below the depths.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

Introduction
Subaeria caught my eye just recently when it was first released on Early Access. An action puzzle game where you have to use the enemies against each other and the environment sounded promising and like a unique experience. And the fact that the levels would be procedurally generated made it sounds even better. So is it what I hoped it would be or did it fail to meet my expectations?
Gameplay
The gameplay consists of one simple objective really: move through the labyrinth while destroying the Cleaners, robots that are after you and who will try to attack you because you have no more credits left in your account. It’s a simple story, but it gets the job done and like many other games it doesn’t need a good story in the first place for it to be enjoyable.
Your character will be able to talk to other characters in some of the areas you visit, but none of them have anything particularly helpful to say, although they sometimes do give you a hint about where you need to to go. Problem is, however, that you usually have to head in a certain direction anyway and you’ll most likely get there even without having talked to them.
Each area consists of a square layout, a block if you will, and the entrance and exit will be locked until the Cleaners have been defeated. This usually means you have to trick them into moving through the lasers or by letting them bump into each other. But for this to happen they must be of the opposite color. So a yellow enemy can bump into a yellow fellow without any problems, but let them bump into a red or blue enemy and they’ll both blow up. Same principle goes for the lasers, of course.
You will do all of this with the help of a little drone, who can be used to help defeat enemies. You can let him pick up powerups that can be found throughout the levels. You have two slots, a left and a right one, and if both slots are full then the powerup you pick up will replace one of them (depending on which trigger you pick it up with). Unfortunately it’s very unclear what the powerups exactly do without opening the proper menu. During my playthroughs I just started using them randomly, hoping at least one of them would be helpful. And even then it was hard to see what they would exactly do. Note that the game is still in Early Access, but this is definitely something that needs to be addressed; let it be a small tutorial, (paused) textbox or just a floating name/description above the powerups itself.
The destroyed enemies will usually leave credits for you to pick up that you can sometimes use to upgrade specific skills, but since the labyrinth is randomized this isn’t always possible (in my experience so far). You’ll also be able to find some sort of ‘perks’ from time to time that will give you things like extra health and increased speed (for your drone).
There are multiple endings per character, though, but unfortunately the endings just aren’t terribly interesting. I’m not saying they’re not worthy of your time, but if you’ve finished the game once you probably won’t play it again with that same character, unless you’re absolutely in love with her (/him?).
One other thing I’d like to mention is the camera, which shows everything from the top. But sometimes it’s hard to see where you’re standing or walking and since you can’t rotate the camera this can lead to frustration, since you’ll bump into enemies or lasers regularly. It’s also hard to see depth at times, especially when you have to jump onto boxes to get to higher places.
But despite the frustration it’s still a unique experience. At the moment it needs a lot of work in order for it to be brilliant, though, but then again, it’s still an Early Access game. Who knows what we’ll see in a few months time?
Audio & Visuals
The audio is fine: it feels a little minimalist at the moment, but let’s just assume it’s still a work in progress and more music and effects will be patched in later. No real complaints here.
What isn’t fine is the performance, which is absolutely horrible. It’s not unplayable by any means, but there’s a bit of lag and the framerate fluctuates a lot. Something I did not expect to see in a game like this. Again, it’s a work in progress, but I’ve played tens of Early Access games that were way better optimized than this. It sometimes took over 2 minutes to load a level: that’s just insane.
The graphics themselves are simple. There’s not much style. Every area has a lot of metalic objects laying around and they don’t have any personality. I personally felt like every room was pretty much the same, with (some of) the objects moved to different places. There is a lack of variety in the level design and it’s a shame, because the setting is great (although unexplained) and there’s so much more room for added details and different locales.
Length/Replay Value
I won’t sugarcoat it, but the length right now is just not worth the asking price. A playthrough will take about 1-2 hours, depending on your skill. You can repeat the game as many times as you want, but it won’t show you anything new once you finished it. I’m sure the game will be much longer by the time the final version releases, but right now I would recommend to wait for a sale or at least more content, unless you’re intrigued by the concept and want to experience it all for yourself.
Conclusion
A somewhat unique experience that could’ve benefited from some extra content and more polish. Right now it’s a good demo (not technically, though) that partially shows you what they hope to achieve eventually, but in my opinion it’s not worth the current price. Does that mean the game sucks? No, not at all: it’s just that the price is too high at this very moment.
Too long, didn’t read
Pros:
+ Multiple characters (although only 1 is playable at the moment)
+ Multiple endings
+ Replayability because of the procedurally generated labyrinths
+ Unique way to defeat enemies/progress
Mixed:
+/- Too many rooms are repeated (and therefore don’t feel unique)
+/- Not enough variety in map design
+/- Despite using the same mechanics the boss fight is still a little unclear and could benefit from more (visual) feedback
Cons:
- Unoptimized performance
- Skills have unclear descriptions
- Too little content, even for Early Access

Please note: a Steam key for this game was provided by the developer.

Rating: 6.1 (out of 10)
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Review from Steam

Subaeria is surely an oddball of the rogue genre, somehow at some point did find it and play it, now years later pick it up again and beat it. Why is it oddball though? Well it's roguelike where you don't actually fight yourself, instead using Styx's (main character) mobility and jumping you keep away from enemy cleaner robots that will destroy each other in collisions, explosions and so on. These enemies consist of three colours which are blue and yellow aka counted, destroyable enemies and greys that can beat up them both. Every yellow and blue bot needs to be destroyed in room to be able to continue to any other room block in the map. Bots have several different from and sizes that can be helpful to break storage boxes in rooms to get resources to be able to buy all kinds of upgrades, food pills, health pills or apps.
Completed rooms stay open and you can go back at them and even collect dropped items from the floor later on, as they won't vanish. Which is really nice thing to have, too many games have time limit to pick drops or they will vanish, which is really annoying at parts. Most of the rooms are normal clean up rooms aka destroy all cleaners, few speak bubble rooms which have stores, npcs and the like, challenge rooms which have task to complete to get reward chest and lastly boss room.
Subaeria has three areas with three bosses. First one is starts from Styx's home where her family was murdered by cleaner bots due Styx little mishaps, this area consist of people who got short stick in after apocalyptic events of water rising on earth and people moving to under water communities aka boxes connected with pipe passages. Second is more of and working areas and storages and last is lighted up rich community space. There are unlockables behind some side story missions which give new classes to play with, unlocked hacker, but didn't test it out, there's total three beside basic Styx.
So combat is mainly done by making enemies destroy each other, but Styx has drone sidekick and you can upload apps to it to help the fight. Purple apps controls Styx, blue ones give drone abilities and lastly green which affect the cleaner bots directly. Did mainly use greens and some blues. Especially good ones were green masters which gave total control over the selected cleaner. Several apps have similar basic effect, but might have some extra effect based on what version it is. Like gives more money on bot destruction and so on.
Gameplay felt fluid enough with Styx and for the most part it's ok to evade enemy attacks, but when swarmed it can become messy, but usually enemies whack each other off at that point. Drone however felt very floaty (well it floats), but it totally feels like losing control sometimes when having master app on some cleaner and like it goes to wrong direction.
After beating game once through it raised challenge a bit and opened up side stories and missions to do other characters which give other classes for Styx to try out, so it has good amount of content to go through in the end. Bit wonky at parts, but unique in sense at rogue genre and setting looks pretty nice with art. Fine enough title as it is.

Review from Steam

Steam Early Access & More
Illogika’s first original IP Subaeria, allows the player to explore a unique sci-fi setting via four playable characters that are are both perpetrators and victims of the injustice that their world faces. As you discover this world, you will dig into topics of a governing democratic society, a secret shadowy organization, and mysterious algorithms that are currently empowering the status elite. Facing these tales of social and political manipulations gives the game a fresh and original vibe.
Click this link to read the full article:

Review from Steam

The begging of the game was nice where it taught you how the game works, with a nice asthetic look but annoying, although soon after that mission ends the look of the game changes to what you're seeing the the trailers/screenshots, so that's a relief.
So starting at that point I was presented with a nicely drawn cutscene that presented the story of the character I'm playing as, which is charming, and I began my adventure.
The visual look of the game with bland and colorful textures, alongside nice but generic enemy designs bbut a nice character model.
The controls is of a twin-stick style where one of the sticks you control the characters movement and the other stick is you controling a drone-companion, and that companion would help you get by enemies provided that you picked up and ability for it. Plays nicely with how the gameplay is designed.
The way you get passed enemies by by either tricking them into smashing into a laser that is the opposite color, or smashing them into other enemies with different colors too. This is somewhat fun and refreshing to have to do instead of just shooting them like in other games.
Story wise I'm satisfied with the cutscenes and quick dialogue the game has with other NPCs, and one of the endings I got was the bad one and even though dialogue and story presentation was short, I had an emotional impact that was satisfactory, which was nice/surprising.
Overall I think the game is greatly worth it for the asking price, provided that you'd stand how the game has optimization hiccups and no quick-save options and a handful of bugs with a lackluster explanation of its more advanced mechanics/progression, but that's why it's in early access and you'd treet it as such and hopefully provide some nice feedback.

Review from Steam

So far so good. The game looks great, love the story, love the premise. Has a unique feel to it.
I do find the controlling the drone unnecessarily challenging. For example, the drone moves a bit herky jerky at times with the right stick, and trying to hover over things to collect them is harder than it needs to be. Smoothing out the controls along with adding a snap to grid type system for the drone when hovering over and collecting items would make more sense.

Review from Steam

First impressions & gameplay video:
I found myself pleasantly surprised by Subaeria. Each room as you progress requires quick thinking and fast reflexes and the addition of RPG elements make a nice change from other rogue likes. Controls are nice and fluid and the random generation on rooms seems pretty great. Looking forward to seeing what they add later before it leaves Early Access. So far seems like a solid puzzle game which makes great use of action and rogue like gameplay. Very impressed!

Review from Steam

If you prefer video/voice, you can watch the same review here.
The game is developed by illogica studio, who you might know as developers of another puzzle game - Hitman GO, which was initially released for mobile platforms but recently has made its way to Steam as well.
Subaeria has been out for some time, but I only got around to record it now because of the technical issues it had at the start (some of them remain to this day).
So, this is a rogue-lite action puzzle game.
The target is to clean your gaming debt while evading evil robots who are out to kill you for it.
The catch is - you don’t have any weapons or equipment to fight them.
You have to manipulate those pesky robots into destroying each other.
And to help you with this, you have a personal drone.
You will find various abilities and powerups for him, that are also limited to manipulating robots.
Like say, take over robot control, or stun robot, or make robot go berserk and attack its allies.
So, in the end it comes down to use of the environment and enemies’ abilities against them.
I wish they would invest more into player-environment interaction though - currently the only way to affect the surroundings is - once again - through enemy robots - which is quite limited.
The rooms you have to fight in generally have some boxes and even exploding crates lying around and while you can indeed use enemies to blow them, there’s no way to do that yourself.
I think it would benefit this game a lot if the developers were to provide a way to manipulate the environment as well - not just enemies.
The game is set in a pretty cool dystopian underwater world that has a lot of cyberpunk vibes to it.
The main story is nothing special, but the characters, world and dialogues have quite a lot of personality.
It’s possible to unlock four playable characters, each with their own storyline as far as I understood.
And what’s even more unusual for a rogue-lite game - there are several possible endings for each of them depending on your quest decisions.
The level layouts are randomly generated, but rooms seems to have a limited number of preset layouts.
After several hours of playing the game, I started to recognize quite a lot of repeating rooms.
Same goes for enemy types - there’s not that many of them.
Essentially, there are two types of enemies: slicing enemies that chase you and shooting enemies that shot at you.
Everything else is pretty much combos of those two: static turrets, grenade shooting enemies, slicing and shooting enemies, and so on.
There are several bosses in game that mix this up a bit.
Although I’d found them to take a bit too much time to beat though (or maybe I just suck at it).
There are several things that are currently stopping me from thoroughly enjoying the game.
One is extremely long loading times - it can take up to 2 mins to load into game. And that’s in a rogue-lite game where it’s quite easy to die.
Another one is very unstable framerate and somewhat glitchy lighting effects. Framerate can randomly jump from solid 60 fps to 1 fps in a cutscene and back to 60 after cutscene ends. This happens for no apparent reason.
And the last one is absence of any way to save the game - once you quit mid-game, there’s now way to continue from you last point, you’ll have to start from the very beginning again.
Hopefully all of those will get addressed in one of the upcoming patches.
All in all, it’s a pretty enjoyable little action puzzler for the price. It does requires some more technical polish and maybe some thoughts on more meaningful player-environment interactions.

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