Coming from Spiderling Studios is a new game by the name of Besiege Console. Billed as a “physics based building game”, immediately alarm bells began to go off in my mind. I’ve had bad experiences with physics based games before, and to this day remain scarred by the time I spent playing Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, which again touted itself as a physics based game. So, can Besiege Console finally lay those demons to rest, or am I going to be haunted forever?
Well, you’ll have to wait for the full review before I can answer that question, as this is more of a glance at the game in the current Game Preview state. A full review will be forthcoming when it leaves Preview status, rest assured, but for now, let’s have a brief glimpse at the gameplay on offer, shall we?
Now, the premise of Besiege Console is pretty interesting, to be honest. Starting with a blank canvas, your task is to design an all crushing mediaeval siege engine to lay waste to your enemies and their castles.
Before each level begins, you have the opportunity to look at the objective, and then build a suitable machine to take it on. Whether that be land based with wheels, or flying with balloons attached and propellers to move the craft, the only limit is your imagination. The only part you have to have is a central block, but after that the world is your oyster. In my time with Besiege I have built things that look like carts, bristling with blades, I have mounted cannons on spindly towers on top of my cart (that went about as well as you might expect) and I have even managed to set myself on fire with my own flamethrower. You want chaos? This will scratch that itch.
Now, as this is a preview piece, I’ll not dwell on things like the graphics and sound, or even the controls, except to say that I’m glad Besiege is still only a Game Preview title, as the controls are, shall we say, interesting. One of the things you can do when building your wheeled machine of destruction is introduce steering, and while this works in theory, in practice it is a more than a little fiddly trying to slalom between bombs, say. Once you get the hang of placing the various components, it is possible to work out some of the kinks, but I do have a top tip for those of you wanting to play this in preview state: When making steering, pay attention to the orientation of the steering knuckles. I built one cart where I didn’t do this, and the steering went from top to bottom, not left to right. Suffice it to say that I was soon destroyed and sent back to the drawing board.
Once you have built your machine of war, you clearly have to test it out, and this where the physics part comes in. The second part of each level is taking the machine you have built for a spin, and seeing if what you have made works. Driving it around, firing at targets (which is easier said than done) and even hunting down the little enemies on the ground is lots of fun. Running over little AI minions with a machine covered in blades is great, shooting them with missiles or setting them alight never gets old. And then, when you find the ultimate fly in the ointment, go back to the drawing, design out the flaw, and try again!
There are many, many levels to have a crack at in the campaign, fifty-four in fact, spread over a variety of lands on a fictional planet. With a variety of different scenarios to play through, ranging from simply “Break all the things” to “Steal some Iron Ore”, making the right vehicle for the job in hand is a lot of fun.
In fact, I’ve really enjoyed my time with this early build of Besiege Console and am really looking forward to trying out the full game. The game has been out on the PC for a little while now, and on that platform there is not only a multiplayer system, but a level designer too; seeing those features come to the Xbox would be pretty groovy.
Now, I hate to end a preview on a downer, but I have to talk about the things that aren’t working very well at the moment – but please remember, this is still in Game Preview so things will, hopefully, change.
First up is the design and build screen. The basic principles are very straightforward, you select the block you wish to add to the vehicle, and then choose where and how to attach it. This is the work of but a moment on the PC; with a mouse and few clicks, it will be a piece of cake. On a controller, it is somewhat more difficult, especially when it comes to rotating parts to make them fit, which requires a combination of trigger and left stick, which feels awkward. Once you get to the driving stage, things are better, but building could certainly do with a bit of optimisation for an Xbox controller. Other than that, I’ve had a lot of fun with Besiege Console, and can’t wait to try the full game.
With the Game Preview of Besiege Console launching on Xbox Game Pass, the time has never been better for a physics based, sandbox build ‘em-up/mediaeval warfare simulator, and I recommend you give it a try. See you on the battlefield!
You’ll find a download over at the Xbox Store. Stay tuned for a full review once Spiderling have decided it’s time for full release.