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Game Info:

Steel & Steam: Episode 1
Developed by: Red Meat Games
Published by: Digerati Distribution
Release Date: April 2, 2014
Available on: PC
Genre: RPG
Number of Players: Single-Player
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Price: $9.99

Thank you Digerati Distribution for sending us this game to review!

Steel & Steam was successfully Kickstarted in September of 2013.  Backers who have supported Episode 1 will receive Episode 2 free of charge.  Depending on the amount donated, backers could get their own NPC or house with a customized plaque inside of it. Some of the plaques had funny statements like “Note to self: replace the lock”.  Backers who pledged over $100 can appear as gladiators, town heroes, or wandering monsters.    Unfortunately, one of these monsters was named “YouBastrd!”

Red Meat Games added a few customizations to the RPG Maker engine.  The menu interface, character emotions, and custom monsters look nice.  Everything else is very dated and this game runs in such a tiny window on my 27” LCD, it's hard to see.  It does have a full screen mode, but pixel art looks better small.  I wish there was a way to make the resolution bigger without being in full screen mode.

Steel & Steam: Episode 1
Highlights:

Strong Points: Nice customizations to the RPG Maker engine; Good character development and humor; Fitting background music
Weak Points: Dated graphics; some dungeons and towns have to be unlocked via a quest to enter
Moral Warnings: Fantasy violence, magic, gambling, and some language

The game’s back story involves a desert plague that is spreading and two young heroes step up to the task of battling the monsters that precede it. The main characters are the reckless but brave, Noah Phoenix, and his sensible best friend, Alyssa Noble.  More adventurers may join your party and each person has their own weapon and armor styles.  After some leveling up, special moves will become available too. 

There are plenty of people to talk to in the towns and some will give you quests and rewards for completing them.  Some of the quests are funny like retrieving a lost ketchup bottle or clearing yet another cellar full of rats.  There's a handy quest journal that keeps track of your completed and unfinished quest notes for you. When you’re not talking with the natives or battling wandering monsters, the fishing side game and gladiator battles are nice distractions/additions.  Most of the battles are randomly triggered but some of the bosses are visible from the start or have to be lured out intentionally.

The battle system is Dragon Warrior style where you fight your enemy face to face from a third person perspective.  The fighting animations are limited and very old school.  In battle you can attack, summon (later in the game), use a special move, guard, cast a spell, use an item, or try to escape.  If you win a battle, you will earn experience, some money and there is a possibility of an item drop too.  If you are outside of town, losing a battle means Game Over.    When I got my butt kicked by some thugs in the first town, my party members were left with 1 hit point each instead of ending my game.  If a player falls in battle, they can be revived by drinking Zombie Juice or by staying at an inn.  Fortunately, you can save anywhere and as often as you like.

Steel & Steam: Episode 1
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 72%
Gameplay - 14/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 79%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 7/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

While the game world is big and you’re free to explore it, many towns and dungeons are not available or “activated” without accepting the associated quest.  Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by Elder Scroll titles, but I’m not a fan of restricted worlds.  Some of the Kickstarter backers have or will be getting a game guide, and since there isn't much of a community out there, this would come in handy.

I enjoyed the themed background music, but some of the sound effects got a little annoying.  (I’m looking at you enter/exit building sound!)  I wish there was some more background music, but the Kickstarter didn’t reach that stretch goal unfortunately. 

Overall Steel and Steam is a dated, but solid Steampunk RPG that caters nicely to its Kickstarter backers.  There's a good backstory and likable characters if you're willing to look past the simple graphics. The asking price of $9.99 is reasonable and there is a demo available.  Because of some of the language, I don’t recommend this game for younger kids.  Like many RPGs, fantasy violence and magic use is to be expected. 

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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