Posted: December 14
Endless Space tries to be the successor of the Master of Orion series, as in a space exploration strategy game with a management phase and space combats.
It doesn't fully succeed, but merit has to be given for it trying to do it in its own way, and innovating rather than copying.
First warning, it takes a long time to appreciate (or master) Endless Space. I don't think I got much fun out of it until the 20th hour or so.
The tutorial doesn't help, it's just a series of much too detailed non-interactive screens, which just make you want to say TLDR. Do I really need to read everything about super advanced diplomacy features on my 1st turn in the game?
The game interface is extremely well designed. It's beautiful, practical, both easy to navigate and feature-rich, has all the info you need where it needs to be. This game should be an example for all other strategy game devs out there.
The graphics are beautiful too, full of eye candy grade galaxies, planets and spaceships, different designs for each faction.
The management phase is the biggest success, and the most interesting to play. There are 4 base components (money, science, food, production), Each planet you colonize provides a mix of those depending on their type and the improvements you build. There are also 16 different luxury ressources + a bunch of rare metals, that provide you different benefits. You can also trade ressources as well as make other diplomatic agreements with other factions.
The research is divided into 4 different trees (military, diplomatic/financial, terraforming/space travel and production/science) in a clever way that will need you to think carefully about your future planning.
The combat phase, unfortunately, is a bit less interesting. A lot of players have described this is nothing but a game of rock, scissors and papers. In reality it is a bit more complicated but in essence it's correct.
You do not have full control over your ships like in similar strategy games. All you do is watch the battle unfold as you play up to 3 cards. You start the game with 8-ish cards to choose from but advance techs and heroes allow you to unlock many more.
Where it does get really more complicated then just Rock Scissor Papers is that each card, in addition to countering certain type of cards, and being countered by some others, also provide your ships with specific advantages, so by studying your opponents stats and making the wise choices, it's a little more tactical than it seems when you first play.
But yet, it's frustrating that the battles are just a show with not much user input. How you build your ships, group them into fleets, and which admirals you assign to them is the most important part in winning a battle, the card phase only changes the odds in a very minor way.
Overall I still recommend this game, for trying to innovate with the space 4x genre, the quality of the interface, the infinite varieties of customization, and the overall adictive fun that it provides, despite the slow pace and the dissapointing space combat.