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Blockstorm (Steam)
Game Reviews

Blockstorm (Steam)

An algorithmic skeleton for player-created content and player-driven competition, with blocks to spare.

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Written by Megan Frederick

As an FPS composed entirely of customizable blocks, Blockstorm resembles a Minecraft warzone. The game features six multiplayer modes in which you can play individually or as a team: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Assault, Castle Battle, and Hunt. Matches take place in either built-in maps or those crafted by players, with the participants embodying completely customizable avatars carrying completely customizable equipment. Providing no narrative nor limits on customization, Blockstorm is an algorithmic skeleton for player-created content and player-driven competition.

Because of this, customization is a huge part of the experience. It’s practically the only part of the experience, actually. Players have free reign over creating maps, character, and equipment through an in-game editor using the same materials as the game’s developers. For map customization, you can start off with a pre-made environment, such as a desert or island, or you can just start from scratch. Your choice. There’s a good variety of terrain to choose from, and plenty of room to add custom prefab items to the stock prefabs in your editor. When it comes to character creation, the editor offers a blank canvas of a human figure players can add to and color. The editors are pretty straightforward and easy to use, though I found it extremely difficult to navigate the camera on the z-axis in the map editor.

Unsurprisingly, this customization has evidently been a huge hit among Early Access players. When I booted up my first Deathmatch, I was immediately greeted by the familiar faces of Spongebob, Hitler, and Walter White (who is available from the get-go in the character select menu). As long as you have the time and patience to craft your creations, you can put anything in the game.

Even if you don’t have the patience to build maps or character skins, Blockstorm still provides a solid FPS experience. The gameplay uses intuitive keyboard controls and players (wisely) have immediate access to all available equipment in the game, making things easy to jump right into. The community is not overbearingly competitive and the whimsically creative appearances of allies and enemies alike allows an easygoing environment (for a PvP FPS that is). Frankly, it is refreshing to find a PvP game whose style and players don’t take it unnervingly seriously.

While these features are the foundation of an innovative gaming experience, it’s hard to sing praise when their endgame is little more than a generic FPS, and the contemporary block aesthetic and fully customizable environment aren’t enough to make Blockstorm an easy recommendation. Unlike Minecraft, which adds substance to the act of building pixelated worlds through the thrill of exploration and survival, Blockstorm’s only utilization of its unlimited customization is violent competition, which is bog-standard and rather unexciting. Still, players can mine hours of creative gameplay here, even if the game offers nothing beyond content creation and competitive skirmishes.

About the Author: Guest Editor