Reviews - Updated on May 17, 2022

Early access allows the developer to immediately receive money and feedback. For us, the players, this model is associated with risk – no one guarantees that the project will move beyond the conditional buggy “alpha”.

This article contains restless projects that have been stuck in early access for a long time. For various reasons: either a laptop is stolen from developers, or they forget to press a button on Steam, or free hands disappear due to the release of Fortnite … There are also positive stories, but the point in them (in the form of version 1.0) has not yet been set.

The article is not limited to Steam Early Access. The Steam Early Access program has been running since March 2013. Before Steam, Desura came up with the idea. Before Desura, Markus Persson, father of Minecraft. We can say that early access has been an important part of the indie and AAA industry since the late 2000s.

Godus

Peter Molyneux invented the god simulator genre. Populous, Dungeon Keeper, Black & White are his creations. Painful Godus, which has been vegetating for eight years without patches in Steam Early Access, too.

Molyneux and his studio 22cans raised money to develop Godus via Kickstarter in late 2012. The strategy debuted in early access in 2013. A year later, the British switched to the mobile version of Godus, a year later – to a new game, The Trail. Crowdfunding goals were not achieved – porting Godus to GNU/Linux and introducing multiplayer.

In March 2016, the contract of the last person working on Godus expired – we are talking about the lead designer Konrad Naszynski (Konrad Naszynski). In general, he supported the god simulator on Kickstarter and worked on it as a volunteer for some time … Apparently, there was no one to choose Molyneux from. Before Nashinski’s departure, 22cans rolled out the Godus Wars RTS mode as a standalone game. On Steam, she also has completely negative reviews, like Godus.

Shortly before the announcement of Godus, Molyneux released the “game” Curiosity: What’s Inside the Cube? on iOS and Android. In it, it was necessary to press on a virtual cube in pursuit of some fantastic prize. Within six months, the application was downloaded by 4 million people who broke 25 billion blocks that made up the cube. The last block was destroyed by Bryan Henderson, a resident of Edinburgh.

What did he get? He was promised the title of the main deity in Godus multiplayer and a share of the profits from the game. The problem is that 22cans never made it to multiplayer, and the project didn’t recoup the investment. So, there is nothing to pay Henderson.

22cans abandoned Godus on PC and Mac due to lackluster interest from gamers and heaps of devastating reviews. The mobile version, on the contrary, brought in money. And continues! This month, the British recorded a video that Godus on iOS and Android is waiting for updates (see above).

Super Dungeon Run

Super Dungeon Run is a cross between Pikmin and Diablo. You drag a squad of clumsy fighters through the dungeon, hungry for loot, and bypass all sorts of obstacles. Warriors automatically hammer monsters, levels are randomly generated, runs are short, the gameplay is fun – if you need to kill not only enemies, but also time, then the project is suitable.

The idea of ​​Super Dungeon Run belongs to indie developer Stewart Hogarth, who also programmed the game. Proper Games is a co-developer and publisher. Shortly after the release of Super Dungeon Run in Early Access, Hogarth, who was suffering from heart problems, died.

Proper Games tinkered with Super Dungeon Run for another month and gave it up. No explanation. From a studio associated with brands such as Crackdown and Final Fight, you expect more serious behavior.

Homeless Super Dungeon Run is still sold on Steam.

Chernobyl VR Project

The Farm 51 presents Chernobyl VR Project as an interactive tour of Pripyat. Panoramic videos are available where you are chained to the floor, and scanned rooms where you can move around with teleports.

Chernobyl VR Project is valuable precisely for interior shots. The rest is easy to explore on Google Maps in Street View.

The Polish studio released the Chernobyl VR Project to Steam Early Access in September 2016, marking the 30th anniversary of the accident. A year later, the application came to PS VR. The official website states that the project has left early access. Apparently, The Farm 51 forgot to click on the appropriate button on Steam. Or quietly waved her hand for revision, remembering the existence of Google Maps. Then she switched to Chernobylite and never returned to the tour game.

Radical Heights

You can’t buy Radical Heights on Steam. However, the example is so blatant that it is impossible to remain silent!

After the commercial failure of LawBreakers, Cliff Bleszinski quickly blew Radical Heights. And it turned out not even early access, but “extreme early access”, as Boss Key Productions described the state of the shooter.

It was not really possible to fight for the audience with other royal battles – a month after the release, Bleszinski admitted defeat and closed his studio.

In some places, Radical Heights was curious – for example, it allowed you to throw the money you got into the account in the game and transfer it between matches. Annoyed in places – remember buildings without textures.

However, Bleszinski had the nerve to release Radical Heights on a free-to-play basis. After another collapse, he sold the Radical Heights trademark to Squanch Games, founded by Rick and Morty creator Justin Roiland. Therefore, it is possible that in some form the brand will still be resurrected.

Interstellar Marines

The first-person shooter Interstellar Marines was announced in 2005. Then the unsuccessful search for investors in the midst of the economic crisis of 2008, the change of the engine from Unreal to Unity, the disaster on Kickstarter and, finally, the success in Steam Greenlight and the release in early access in 2013.

Zero Point Software positioned Interstellar Marines as an AAA indie game. For a couple of years in Early Access, the Danish team squeezed out competitive multiplayer and cooperative mode. At the winter sale of 2015, the shooter was bought extremely sluggishly, which is why game director Kim Haar Jørgensen fired the producer and two programmers, left alone with the interns.

The pace of development collapsed, and Interstellar Marines was bombarded with negative reviews. The last potential investors and gamers turned away from the game. Jorgensen found another full-time job and began to devote time to the shooter only insofar as. He did not master programming – he had to involve volunteers in the project, but they did not save the Interstellar Marines either.

Since the end of 2019, Interstellar Marines has not received updates, but this, as you understand, is not a reason to remove it from sale.

Unreal Tournament

Epic approached the creation of the latest Unreal Tournament in a utopian way: entrusted it to a tiny team in the expectation that the community will be connected to the creation. The shooter was distributed for free, but they wanted to make money on the in-game store – they planned to exhibit custom modifications there.

Naturally, UT withered away at the “alpha” stage – a handful of enthusiasts cannot afford a project of this magnitude. The final patch was rolled out to UT in the summer of 2017. Fortnite demanded all the resources of the company, and the old-school FPS was sacrificed without regret.

In December 2018, Tim Sweeney announced the “freeze” of the project. Let’s console ourselves with the fact that UT only emptied the pockets of the studio. Not studios and players, as is usually the case with “abandons” in early access.

Project Zomboid

The Indie Stone team experimented with an early access model prior to Steam EA, selling pre-orders of the defunct Project Zomboid through their website in 2011.

As a result, users still received an alpha version of the isometric survival game. It turned out to be so popular that The Indie Stone got out dry from a pile of troubles. The developers even made a presentation “How not to make a game” at one event. For example, PayPal froze the account of the developers, where they accepted money from pre-orders. And all because, according to the rules of PayPal, it is forbidden to trade a product that does not exist. A little later, the robber stole work laptops from the apartment where two employees of The Indie Stone lived. The team did not make external code backups and lost progress in two months.

But all this is behind. For almost nine years, The Indie Stone has been developing Project Zomboid on Steam EA and growing its audience. The record for simultaneous online (65.5 thousand people) was set by the survivor a few months ago. In an interview, the creators of the hit say they are in no hurry. Version 1.0 can be safely expected until retirement.

Quake Champions

Quake Champions has been in Early Access since August 2017. Bethesda has been trying to breathe life into the project for about a year and a half.

During this time, QC migrated to the free-to-play model and changed loot boxes to the battle pass. Since almost nothing happened to the FPS in the future, the press stopped writing about it. Forgot about him and gamers.

It got to the point that Tim Willits, a studio veteran and QC director, said goodbye to id Software, he moved to Saber Interactive. By the way, Saber, originally a co-developer of the project, has not been related to it for a long time.

What now? Extremely rare updates and online is consistently below a thousand people. There is no chance to get out of Steam EA.

Kingdoms Rise

Kingdoms Rise is the creation of an Australian loner hiding under the banner of Flyleap Studios. At the end of 2013, the game caught the attention of the community, because then multiplayer fights with melee weapons and magic were new.

It was not possible to keep gamers. Users complained about technical errors and closed the application until better times. They never came. In 2017, the author released the latest patches and a couple of paid DLCs (appreciate the impudence) and switched tightly to other projects – all sorts of shooters and drone control simulators. For some reason, he changed the site – some kind of online casino now flaunts on the old one.

What is the reason for Kingdoms Rise forever early access? After all, she had good sales, according to estimates – 100 thousand copies. Probably, the creator realized that the network action with a peak online of 250 people has no prospects, so he quietly reduced his activity to zero.

Rogue System

Rogue System is a starship simulator where everything happens in a scientific way. It landed on Steam EA in 2016.

The game was praised, but in 2018, publisher Image Space Incorporated and a lone developer put the process on pause. The fact is that the author received a severe head injury and decided that he was not yet ready to further calculate how objects behave in space.

The author of the Rogue System insisted that it be removed from the store. The publisher wanted to return the investment. The compromise won – Image Space Incorporated left the game on Steam, but warned on the page: keep in mind – the project is frozen.

Star Citizen

This fall, it will be 10 years since Chris Roberts raised $2 million on Kickstarter to create a Star Citizen space sim. The project budget has already grown 200 times, but there are no clear release dates on the horizon.

The main developer, Cloud Imperium Games, is slowly preparing mod modules. The authors are obsessed with the detail and realism of the fictional universe. Hence the missed deadlines and neglect of any plans. The obvious obsolescence of the picture leads to endless alterations. Plus, as befits a thoroughbred long-term construction, it was not without changing the engine – from CryEngine to Lumberyard.

In the news, Star Citizen often flickers because of courts with investors, litigation with Crytek and suspicious monetization options such as the sale of virtual land. Four years ago, Stepan Peskov wrote a generally positive article “Dreams are blown away. How is Star Citizen doing? – I wonder what he would say about the game now?

Many early access prisoners eventually rowed ashore and are loved by the public: Kenshi, The Forest, Subnautica, Wreckfest, Factorio, The Long Dark… The Guild 3 is also close to its cherished goal. – at least for small teams with big ambitions, this is forgivable.

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