Wednesday, 24 October 2018 08:00

Nimbatus - The Space Drone Constructor Early Access Review

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Edited by: Tiffany Lillie


Nimbatus is a game of trial and error from the very get-go. While a tutorial is supplied, it really does nothing to teach you more than the basics of standing a drone up and moving your pesky creation in 2D space. You will quickly find that sensors, diverse weapon systems, and stability will win you most of your battles. I have very little (if any) experience in these types of titles, but by mere curiosity, I was lured into the fray and left to my own devices.


The graphics are 2D and simple, but with very pleasing lighting and coloring. There isn’t much depth to the graphics, but I don’t believe it truly needs anything more than what it supplies. Nimbatus won’t be known for its art style, it will be known for giving gamers creative control without limitations. While I wasn’t necessarily impressed by the artistic direction, I was surprised by the overall detail of the planets you will encounter. They are diverse in their procedural generation and offer some variety in the worlds you will more than likely destroy. Much of your time will be spent designing drones hell-bent on being planet melters. While there isn’t much detail in terrain manipulation or destruction, it feels rewarding to turn a planet into a careening explosion of asteroids.


For a lot of players (myself included), drone designing is going to be a very welcomed feature, especially since there are no limitations. No part, sensor, or weapon limits are present at this time. This gives you, the creator, full control over how your drone will look and operate — a rare feature in today's gaming. In Nimbatus, you can build the universe's most powerful space-bombarding war machine, or you could build a drone that builds little drones that mine through the planet's surface, being more of a mothership. Or, in my case, you can build the universe's most unstable flying jalopy that spends the majority of its career bouncing around inside of caves and spinning uncontrollably. (I have gotten better, I promise.)


Nimbatus has no story to it. It feels, at first, like madness. You deploy what I can only call a scout drone to a procedural planet and find that weird, flying enemies are pretty abundant, as well as planetary defense turrets. After discovering the value of protective armor and literally fitting as many weapon systems onto your platform that you can, you soon find that these enemies can be felled rather quickly, aside from the giant space snakes or other monstrosities of this galaxy. The gameplay loop is extremely simple: Build drones, deploy to unknown worlds with a main objective, destroy everything, and possibly mine resources.


From my understanding, gathering resources gives you the ability to unlock additional parts and weapon systems. Mining is easy in concept: place resource vacuums on your machine, bins for them to be stored in, ingest all the resources on a given node, then proceed to fly over your “resource” ship that floats above each planet and dump the gathered commodities into said ship. Now, most of these nodes will be inside of the planet, so be ready to bore your way to them.

All of your drones need you to map their controls. What I mean by this is that you must assign each of your thrusters and weapons to a key-toggle that can be used to pilot the drones. Vertical thrusters can usually be mapped to W and S while horizontal thrusters are usually mapped to A and D. (Pro tip: Don’t forget diagonal thrusters. Trust me.) This feature really lends itself to full creative control. I’ve made drones that can simply spiral out of control and I’ve made the faithful self-stabilizing war blimps. Don’t forget sensors, which are ridiculously useful, especially the directional sensors that you can map to keep your drone level with the gravity of the planet.


While physics isn’t Nimbatus’ strong point, they definitely fit well and never leave you questioning the design choice. After learning about inertia and momentum the hard way, it is critical to make good design choices and to know which parts are good connection points that  will serve you the best. (For example, don’t connect your weapon systems to a dangling block that you assumed would act as a tower. It will blow up.)


The Verdict: Great

Nimbatus is a creative gold mine of failure and sweet success — just don’t expect much explanation or storyline. As far as Early Access goes, the bugs are few and far between and the overall aesthetic is extremely pleasing. While the price tag isn’t extremely steep, some gamers may find the content-to-price ratio a little one-sided, though anyone who takes the plunge into Nimbatus will soon find that you are paying for creative freedom and the ability to test your mind and your pride. Even though I don’t have much experience in the design genre, I am more than willing to continue to fail in Nimbatus.

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Bric Hudson

Bric is a US Army veteran and a passionate gamer. While in military service, he found gaming to be a way to connect with his friends all over the world. This blossomed into a fascination with the gaming culture and the experiences had while launching up a whole new title. He is fond of a variety of genres, which is reflected on his Twitch streams and on his Youtube channel. Find Bric on YouTube. Find Bric on Twitch.