Posted: June 28
A very confusing and overall lackluster RTS management game. You're given three floors of a space station to work with. The first floor holds your main focus, where you will be building docking ports, accomodations, labratories, and a bunch of other stuff. The second floor is for entertainment, where you build extravagant restaurants and hotels, discos, and yes, brothels. The third floor is the Biodeck, where you alter terrain and can create different habitats for a species of alien to grow different plants in, which provides you with resources. On each floor, you can purchase multiple adjascent sections as the space station forms a circle. To run many buildings, you will need workers from a good bit of different alien races of which you hire. There's lots of building, trading, and fighting to be done.
Now for my complaints. The in-game tutorials do very little in the way of actually teaching you how to play the game. You'll be taught what buildings basically do, but not exactly. You'll learn that residents have different stats, but aren't told how they impact their work. They will briefly touch on fighting mechanics early on, but I didn't encounter serious fighting until 9 hours in and I wasn't close to being prepared. If you press F1 while hovering your cursor over an item, you'll get more information on it. This doesn't work for cargo crates, but only the item after you already own and build it, and most of the information is superficial and not actually helpful. There are also lots of items you can waste precious Energy (this game's currency) on, that ultimately do nothing, such as Benches or Chronometers, despite the game telling you to purchase them. The controls and camera are hard to use to at first and feel very unintuitive. Some things require too much precision and things can end up getting clunky, such as when trying to pick up one item but the it grabs another near it instead. Also a minor issue, is how the Cargo Hold will instantly take any items you purchase but take a long time putting them up, so you won't be able to get them until you end up forgetting you bought them. The list goes on.
I got very lucky with most of the missions, completing them an inch away from Game Over, which can be very stressful as each mission tends to take a very long time to beat. You can spend hours on a single mission, and that's not fun when most of it is comprised of a lot of waiting around and wondering if you're playing the game the right way. It's especially not as fun because if you haven't been playing properly, all of that time is a gigantic waste. You can save as many times as you want, and the game cycles through three autosave files as the mission carries on, which is pretty advanced for its time, but if you've been falling behind for the majority of the mission, you'll have to do it all over again anyway. I made it to Mission 7 before I stopped playing. The game wanted me to take over a space station. I spent an hour and a half doing my best to earn as much money as I could, something that was so basic yet still very difficult despite playing this far, only to have my door breached and my base destroyed by an enemy. I forgot the whole two lessons it taught me in the first tutorial on how to fight. I had the right amount of residents the game recommended to me, even moreso, and senty turrets all around, and since the game basically runs on auto pilot I should've been safe enough to reseal my blast doors (something I only knew about because I read it online, as the game doesn't explain this feature). I sealed the doors, with all my battling residents on the other side as I forgot the one, pathetic way you have of controlling them, and for some reason all of my Energy was depleted. Every one of my buildings was shut down and out of power, including my Energy Collector which is what brings me power. I had 0 Energy, no way to get any more, and no idea what was going on. After over an hour and a half, my game was left in an unwinnable state.
If you're a fan of RTS-like management games, you might want to get this game only when it's on sale. Otherwise, I can't recommend this game to anyone who doesn't already know how to play it. It does have some charming ideas, like its Sci-fi references and your "helpful" advisor, VAL, and a sandbox mode of which I will not be playing, but it isn't enough to save the game from its disastrous design. It's very difficult to get into, and I gave it an honest try and spent 10 hours with it, and I got to the point of where I'm just sick of it now.