Gaming - GRAV (Early Access)

The Defective Inspector opens up another Case File. Under  investigation this time is the early access version of GRAV...

GRAV is one of MANY early access games I throw money at when I am feeling generous and ambitious. Early access games are dangerous things and can fall flat… However I saw potential in this game and let the development team do their work, when the Halloween Sales occurred throughout the internet gaming world I noticed a few big updates by GRAV with the term “Reborn” affixed to it. It seemed like a good of time as any to get involved and do some preliminary reports on this concept…

First let me mention the company, BitMonster Games. It would seem we have some next generation veterans in the mix, all of them appear to have history in at least one well known franchise. Why mention it? Well with all early access games there is the fear of people getting in over their heads, it seems these guys have the cranium for the concept and that is pleasing. Also they have a cat and a dog on their ‘about us’ page… Soda and Toast are clearly running the show.

This game is ridiculously beautiful, even in the dark!
To give you a brief glimpse into the GRAV development tree it was Greenlit via Steam within 46 hours, a somewhat legendary claim as some games never even reach THAT stage. It’s easy to see why, graphically the game is beautiful and for an early access game that is exceptionally rare. You have a certain feeling of awe and wonder as the visual presence of GRAV has been well established. I think the idea is if you are playing an unfinished game where bugs and concepts are unfinished you can at least enjoy the view.

Even though it IS unfinished (I mean that’s what I expected when playing an early access game) there is still a fair bit to talk about. There is a fairly well established resource system which is not as stagnant and straightforward as mining for diamonds. Rather than making this one precise resource impossible to find but rewarding to achieve it levels out rather well, I found a large amount of wood because I needed A LOT of wood while on the other hand I could find bits of Element-X because I only needed a little… Initially… Beyond that GRAV allows you to traverse to other worlds, plucking other resources via an interconnection of jump gates which you yourself build from MUCH more rare items like… Oh nothing fancy… A COLLAPSED STAR CORE. How do you obtain such a cosmic thing? Murder mainly, lots of murder and drugs.

Kill a turtle, get a cosmic singularity. Win-win!
One key part of the game is the farming of creatures with names like “Tech Hunter” and “Day Killer”. Via a straight forward experience based levelling system you murder your way through countless aliens praying for something other than faecal-esque which is affectionately called “Organic Matter”. There is a certain genocidal feel about the whole event but… Hey who cares? They respawn, I can be Cyborg-Stalin in robo-onesie without remorse! Though at this point I should probably explain the drugs… It’s not that you are holding onto them for a friend they are yours and very legit, stimulation packages can be found and made from various resources. They improve speed, damage, health, stamina and all things of that ilk. So technically I am a drug addicted Cyborg-Stalin in a robo-onesie.

The game however doesn’t encourage you to be alone in the slaughter, multiplayer is a rather epic setup already and an empire can be forged in the crazy actions of friendship. Though I spent all my time in solo play (enjoying myself I might add) I felt the multiplayer aspect would have boosted the game to a new level. There are so many resources, so many building, so many worlds and all the tech you need to build things is based on drop rates from the aliens. Thus one person can be lucky enough to find the blueprints for the Mark 4 machine gun while another will be able to make the newest force field generator. The Defective Inspector goes it alone, but I can appreciate how much more fun it could be with friends and this game CLEARLY gets better with friends.

If I dress as a tree maybe the trees will be my friends...
I could progress onto the part of the review where I talk about the bugs here but it doesn’t seem fair. Early access games are pretty much expected to be buggy and thus I’d feel a little mean, however this is my moment to say the bugs DO exist and make sure you set your expectations accordingly when playing the game. You will have moments where the screen forms a strange static effect and a piece of wood remains eternally rotating on your mouse cursor but you just need to report it and move on like a good early access minion.

I feel it’s reasonable to also say that the game hasn’t been entirely rounded yet. Yes there are resources and I can built a base of sorts but I still feel like there is more customisation waiting to happen. My base feels like a mixture of cubic huts rather than a fortress of solitude, the loading times are a bit excessive when playing solo and still find myself wiki-checking why I can’t find a blueprint only to be told “Keep killing, the blood gods shall reward you”. I’m keeping this case file open, when it has been completed I’ll review it again to see how things have changed. Consider this a preliminary report!

This game has an immense amount of potential and it’s already living up to it in many ways. I can still log into my game and be amazed graphically and entertained interactively, GRAV has indeed been reborn and I can’t wait for it to be a full grown adult.

Images from Steam Store:GRAV and Defective Inspector’s gameplay.

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