Signs of Life (Sweet Dog Studios)
Signs of Life is a science fiction themed sandbox title with a emphasis on survival. At the start of the game, your lone survivor lands his escape pod on an alien world and it is your job to help him stay alive. The genre already has big hitters like Terraria and Starbound, so we were curious to see what Signs of Life had to offer.
The game combines hand-crafted and procedurally generated content with some very nice looking results. The alien planet that you land on is actually a hospitable looking place and has a range of strange, as well as familiar, creatures roaming about. I was surprised to see some chickens and sheep, but it’s nice that not everything in the area immediately wants to chew your face off.
As the game is still in Alpha a more extensive prologue is planned to teach you the ropes, but the “AGIS personal assistant” built into your MEG tool has some hints to get you up and running. Your goal is to explore the planet, gather resources and craft the equipment that you need to survive. There are also some story elements woven through everything as you will discover structures and equipment that were mysteriously abandoned by their occupants.
The multifunctional MEG tool that you start out with is quite nifty as it has the ability to light up your surroundings, project a map of areas you have explored and mine resources from a distance. I also like how you have to manually select which objects you want to collect, instead of everything you walk over just appearing in your inventory. Speaking of the inventory, this game uses a bag and container system similar to classic games such as the Ultima series, which is pretty cool.
The visuals are pretty colorful and I particularly liked the bone based animation system. Any equipment you craft is also shown on your character so if you cobble together some armor out of bits of wood and string, expect to look a little silly. New crafting recipes are unlocked by gathering resources or crafting other items and there are already a lot of things you can create at this stage of development. Working your way up from kicking enemies to crafting melee weapons and eventually guns is very satisfying and we look forward to seeing what else the developers are going to come up with. One of the recent updates added a neat dodge roll which makes combat even more dynamic.
While Signs of Life doesn’t have a multiplayer feature yet, it is in the pipeline and will definitely be added to the game. The developers are also taking their time to properly implement a playable female character and polish up the audio with some more sound effects. Even after putting in quite a few hours on other games in the genre, Signs of Life still felt fresh enough to keep us coming back for more. The developers are pretty committed to creating a great game and have already added a ton of new content with each update. The genre might be getting pretty crowded, but it would be a mistake to overlook Signs of Life.