If ever I felt a need for Steam to have a middle ground between "recommend" and "don't recommend" I'm wishing it did for right now. An open palmed "Stop, and wait a bit".
The quick of it is that Halfway is a completely solid, if a bit bare and plain, Tactics RPG with a futuristic Sci-fi setting and beautifully done Lo-fi artwork. It's completely worth playing . . . but it will be worth playing a LOT more in about a month or so.
The long of it is as follows: The Good
- A meaty little campaign that's going to clock in around 10-16 Hours over 30+ missions, which for the cost of the game is than a buck an hour. So, a pretty good value!
- Neat little Sci-fi universe that gets more interesting as the game moves along. It's reminiscient of System Shock 2 and Dead Space, but with a growing sense of its own identity.
- Really great 16-bit style Pixel art that looks like it's a mix between Tactics Ogre, The Chaos Engine, and Aliens. Seriously, the game looks fantastic for those who like this styling.
- A small but excellent set of musical tracks that are very "Vangelis from Blade Runner" inspired, which is very high praise as far as I'm concerned.
- Good ol' Turn-based Tactics gameplay! Ranged XCOM or Jagged Alliance style! Find the best angles and cover and blast away at your foes!
- For the most part, some very good level design. Most of the stages I found to be a lot of fun and I was never bored by them.The Bad
- The core fundamentals of the Tactics gameplay are solid, but fairly basic and a bit unfocused. There's not a lot to set this game apart from its competition other than a replacement for "Overwatch" that's a bit disappointing and the game lacks it's own unique hook to the concept. It's kind of "Meat & Potatoes Tactics", and you're going to want to add pepper . . . but there's no pepper!
- The RPG character progression elements seem stripped down enough for an XCOM game without individual characters, but this game has developing individual characters, so these elements never feel like they gel together.
- The different weapons don't really feel all that different, other than optimal ranges, and there's an obvious "best" weapon with the sniper rifles once the game hits the halfway point.
- The tuning/balance is very bonkers. The first third is too easy, the second third feels about right, and the last third spikes up the difficulty to often frustrating levels. On top of that, there are many strange difficulty spikes that just happen out of nowhere here and there because of inconsistent variations on turns the player has no control over.
- In general, the game is very linear and scripted and offers little in the way of choice making for the player. The Ugly
- The last boss battle needs an overhaul.
- The game has been fairly buggy at launch, and it's still missing promised modding tools. It really feels like the "Soft Beta Launch" situation that Early Access was meant to abolish, and that early adopters as basically acting as QA for the game. The Betty
- To be fair, the devs have been friendly and prompt about dealing with all the issues and criticisms presented to them, and the game's potential and longevity is going to skyrocket once the modding tools are released.
- However, there are no actual Betty's in the game as of yet.