The strategy genre is by far one of my favorite in gaming. Using guile and wits to best an opponent instead of the usual brute force is always a pleasant change of pace and requires a totally different skill set from that needed by the more action-heavy offerings out there. Personally, I’ve always been about turn-based strategy. I’m not very good at multi-tasking and RTS games can ask for a little bit too much frantic juggling than I’m comfortable with. This being said I’ve been playing Byte Lynx for PC and as fun as the concept of this game might be I’m not sure whether it’s the sort of thing that’s been built for players like me. I’ll explain as we go but I’m going to start this review with a preface of turn-based strategy fans beware.
Byte Lynx sees us taking the role of Captain Serena as she crashes on a planet controlled by a hostile AI called Prime. This cutthroat contraption and her minions have full control over the planet and she rules with an iron fist. Serena and her crew could have easily been wiped out minutes after crash-landing but for the help of a mysterious little bot called Byte. Byte is a particularly dangerous bit of technology in that he’s more than willing to commit crimes like thinking for himself. He decides that Serena doesn’t deserve to die simply because she’s in his space and as such decides to help her and her crew get back off the world. To do this she and her newfound companion will need to tap into the planet’s infostructure and use its mining stations and turrets for their own devices. This is going to be no easy task because the locals really don’t like interlopers.
Your level select screen. There’s a fair amount to go at, especially with the fairly steep difficulty curve.
The aim of this maddeningly frantic game is to build complex networks of wires and ensure they stay powered so that buildings can be conquered and defensive and offensive structures built. As with any network, cutting the power is very much the name of the game and you’ll have to replace enemy wiring with your own and use your strategic noggin to switch control of their buildings for your own use. Your opponent is obviously doing exactly the same thing so it’s very much a race to see who can destroy whose HQ first. There are other offensive and defensive objectives that ask for a different approach but this is very much this title boiled down to its bare basics. As an example. one of the levels asks you to hold out for five minutes or so while Byte gets a teleporter working. You can believe me when I say that this task is very much easier said than done and I have a general dislike of timed missions so this was a little ray of sunshine for me.
Maps are sprawling. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but can make it difficult to see AI moves.
If Byte Lynx were a turn-based strategy game I’d be having bags of fun. I’d be happy with restrictions on how much I could do in any given turn to be given the ability to see what my opponent is up to during theirs and plan accordingly. The problem we have here is that the maps are quite big and with everything happening all at once you can’t see where the enemy AI is building and going to find out means you’re wasting valuable seconds that could be better spent in your own assault. As you’ll also need to sure up your own defenses it’s very difficult to attack, defend, build structures, and plan all at the same time. Put simply; for me at least, the pace is absolutely maddening.
Shields are useful but need strategic placement to get the most from them.
Now, none of this is to say that Byte Lynx isn’t an enjoyable game. I actually really like the concept of building wire networks to power what you’re doing, while cutting off your opponent’s advance. Finding weaknesses in the AI chain is really good fun and if you can pull the plug in a certain place you can make a large section of their network fall apart. The thing is, you have to have the time to process where those weaknesses are and how you’re going to exploit them. I found myself panic-stricken and throwing everything at the wall in the hope that I could simply outpace the computer and I’m not sure whether that’s the point of this game. When it comes to the point where you’re just randomly throwing things down and hoping for the best it stops being strategy and becomes a matter of luck. Coming back to my point, this isn’t necessarily the fault of the game as such, if you’re used to this sort of tempo then you’ll be absolutely fine. It’s just that I’m not and I wasn’t.
I completely understand that my main gripes come down to a difficulty curve that I personally, can’t follow. I’m also very aware that you’ll be thinking, just turn the difficulty down and all will be right with the world. This is a very valid argument, and of course, you can do that, in fact, it’s probably a good idea for first-time players to start on the lowest difficulty regardless. Lowering the difficulty doesn’t alter the concept of the game though and isn’t going to stop the juggling act that I mentioned earlier. What it will do is slow that pace down to something slightly more manageable and this is definitely a welcome thing. If you’re playing on medium or hard modes expect to have to think as fast as the computer though or you’ll struggle.
If you’re the sort of gamer that loves the pressure of everything happening at the same time I think Byte Lynx is absolutely a game for you. As I’ve said, this certainly isn’t a game without merit. The graphics are simplistic but perfectly fitting for the task at hand and the story is well written. This is actually a big plus point. There are a lot of strategy games out there that focus so hard on the gameplay aspects that the story completely falls by the wayside. The narrative here makes sense and that’s a win in and of itself. With respect to gameplay, aside from being the sort of thing that makes me want to smash my keyboard, it’s actually very addictive, and even though I know I’m not very good at it keeps me coming back for more. This just proves my point that for a seasoned RTS fan, Byte Lynx would be a brilliant choice of game.
This isn’t a game where you have varying units, it’s one where you have to use what you have to the best of your ability.
I’ve said this before but I think it’s really important to be honest about what you can and can’t do well as a player before going into a new title. If you take me for example I’m comically awful at FPS games so I’m not going to sit down and review the latest Modern Warfare. This isn’t a problem with the game, it’s a problem with me. This being said, I’m not grading Byte Lynx purely based on my own experience because that wouldn’t be fair. I’d advise those of you who are just dipping your toes into the genre or other turn-based strategy fans to think about what you can and can’t do before purchasing though. You don’t want a perfectly good title to turn into an exercise in frustration.
Look and feel - 8/10
Story - 7/10
Difficulty - 7/10
Replayability - 7/10
Originality - 8/10
A great game seeking the right player.
Byte Lynx is a good game that probably won’t be for all players. We have some interesting mechanics at play here, coupled with a well-written story and adrenaline-fuelled gameplay. The pace you need to move at to succeed might not be for all players though, and it can be hard to plan ahead as seeing your opponent’s moves isn’t always easy. This can obviously be mitigated with lower difficult levels but playing this game on anything higher than easy may well create an amount of pressure that won’t be for all strategy fans. This is one for real-time strategy specialists. I think turn-based strategy lovers, (like myself,) might find it a bit harder to adjust to the pace. All in all a great game if you have what it takes to keep up.
Hailing from Southport England, Alex started his gaming career in the late 80s on a Commodore 64. Since that time he's either owned or played on virtually every console released. Alex happens to... Read more...