If you like medieval death machines, Besiege is for you.

Imagine if you will, a completely white room. Dragon Ball Z fans may liken it to the Hyperbolic Time Chamber.

Now add a small castle, maybe even a tree or a couple shrubbery, a villager perhaps.
Floating in mid air is a single block of wood and steel. This represents your imagination and all potential – for destruction.

This is the basic premise of Besiege. It’s a sandbox in the most virtual sense, awaiting your input and ready to unleash your creation on whatever unfortunate nature or beings exist on this plane along with you. At your disposal are a number of building blocks from springs to motorized wheels, cannons to flamethrowers, wings to armor plates. Each environment is a fully destructible sandbox with no constraints (regarding number or type of building pieces), so tactics rely mostly on the layout of the level and the objectives. I imagine the final version will host different challenges to complete (possibly tied to achievements), such as not using certain building pieces, only using certain pieces, limiting the total number of parts, limiting the overall weight (a factor that is displayed in the toolbar but is currently meaningless), or wackier things such as “never touching the ground” or “capture a sheep without hurting it.”

Besiege is graphically reminiscent of Hitman GO or a Cities series game, a tilt-shift and miniature-like aesthetic. And it’s bloody – very bloody. The juxtaposition against the stark white background creates a unique atmosphere, and the movements of people and animals are somewhat silly. It’s beautiful in its choice of colors while maintaining a cool “simulator” feel.

Beseige_UI

 

The UI is simple and functional. It exists as a toolbar along the top for system functions, such as speeding or slowing time, saving and loading contraptions, showing and hiding keybindings, undo/redo, and placement controls. Along the bottom is your “toolbox” or list of parts separated into categories. It works well enough but it’s clear that some areas will be better utilized as the game is updated. One nice feature is that the UI mostly disappears when you activate your structure and leave building mode.

Levels have a completion goal in order to move on, typically involving destroying a target or a number of villagers. Some involve logic puzzles, such as getting two boulders to a goal area. For me, this is entirely necessary to hold my attention in a sandbox game. While I appreciate the madness of creating and testing all sorts of machinations, my interest will soon wane if there is no goal to work toward. Besiege leaves it completely open ended, automatically dropping in my creation from the previous level to test its meddle or augment and upgrade, or to create a new one. There are no hints or suggested paths, just “do X.” It’s the kind of puzzle solving that has several right answers, and lots and lots of wrong answers. You can over-engineer as much as you want, or build something that holds together just long enough to earn the win condition – it’s all up to you.

On being an Early Access game…

Besiege does Early Access absolutely right. It respects you time and your money, offering an extremely solid foundation of systems and building pieces for a measly $7. Seven. Dollars. There is enough sandbox content here to tinker with for hours on end, and I’m so excited to see what is added in the future updates. There are currently 15 levels. The developer notes that the final version will include:

many more levels, in the form of islands to conquer. These islands will have different aesthetics and will feature objective types not found in the current Alpha, hopefully encouraging different tactics! If all goes to plan, the final game should boast more variety. As well as this, there will be more building pieces to utilize, potentially a level editor, and more expansive creation and sandbox options.

There is currently a sandbox mode which is pretty much crazy floating platform obstacle course, and the main title screen suggests a moon will be available. A MOON – the ultimate physics frontier.

The fact is, I’m not nearly creative enough to show you the full potential of Besiege. Luckily, an already avid community has taken care of that.

Even machinima makers are taking a stab with amazing results.

As with the gameplay in Besiege, you can approach it’s development in several ways. You can watch all the videos on YouTube and gifs on Imgur to see every crazy machine players can come up with, you can read all about player experiences at https://www.reddit.com/r/Besiege/, you can put on blinders and only build what your brain can imagine. You can read every dev log and patch note to see what is coming in the next release.

This is a game I’ve absolutely fallen in love with and am so excited to see what is next. While writing this review, the v0.05 patch released, but I only noticed because there were new building pieces available in the toolbox – a very pleasant surprise. It was an experience that will dictate the way I play Besiege, treating updates like Christmas and only unwrapping it when the time comes. Exploring the game changes are just as exciting as exploring the possibilities within.

If this sounds even remotely like a game you’d be interested in, go buy it. Seriously, now is the time – it’s only $7 and the price is guaranteed to go up as the game gets closer to release. That’s the price of a burrito, and a burrito won’t provide nearly as much mayhem (except maybe on your GI tract).

Check it out at http://www.besiege.spiderlinggames.co.uk/

You can purchase Besiege on Steam Early Access at http://store.steampowered.com/app/346010

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