|We come in peace. Shoot to kill - shoot to kill - shoot to kill. We come in peace...|
I can't quite remember how I originally heard about Interstellaria but I most likely heard about it from a Kickstarter project I backed. Anyway, Interstellaria originally went to Kickstarter for funding in 2013 and successfully raised $28,805 USD from 1,773 backers (and I was one of them, of course). So why did I back it?
Interstellaria advertised itself as being similar to old school space games like Star Control 2 yet with modern mechanics. You're able to explore a galaxy filled with alien cultures so I was totally down with that especially considering the very affordable $10 USD price for admission :).
Fast forward to one and a half years later, and Interstellaria is now a reality. I've managed to clock a few hours so far and here are my first impressions:
What I like:
- Tribute to sci-fi classics: Interstellaria is based on games that are considered sci-fi classics with the game being mostly influenced by the classic Star Control 2. In Star Control 2 you got to explore worlds, gather resources, meet alien races and fight hostile ships; Interstellaria has sought to do the same although it has also been influenced by more recent sci-fi classics, such as Mass Effect 2 with respect to its plot, and FTL: Faster than Light with respect to the ship combat.
- Music: A game that pays tribute to classics of yesteryear like Star Control 2 wouldn't be complete without an appropriately retro soundtrack. Chipzel does a fantastic job in this regard managing to inject some groovy chiptune dance tracks whenever exploring planets and fighting other ships. Remember when you used to dance to the Mortal Kombat-like dance music that would play every time you fought ships in Star Control 2 (No? That was just me? Whatever)? The music in Interstellaria is that good you'll probably be doing the same.
- Mouse-driven controls: I love games that can be controlled exclusively using a mouse and Interstellaria is one of those games. You can use shortcuts on the keyboard if you so desire although the only one I tend to use is the spacebar (which is used for pausing the game).
What I don't like:
- Grind: When you're collecting resources on a planet it can sometimes take quite a while to gather all the resources. It feels like an eternity but it's probably close to 5 minutes I guess and it involves automating your crew to pick up things and then clicking the Fast Forward button. To be fair, Star Control 2 and Mass Effect 2 were kind of guilty in this regard too but it's a feature the game could've definitely done without.
- Confusing gameplay: I still don't completely understand how to play the game such as how to select one crew member once they're all standing on top of each other (I usually use the arrow keys on the top but it's time consuming to cycle through crew members... hold the train! A most recent update to the game now gives you a crew member selection panel which is a welcome addition. Unfortunately you can't seem to scroll left while it's open though). I also have no idea how combat works since sometimes your crew members fire on hostile fauna but other times they don't do anything.
- Lack of variety: While each of the planets I've landed on so far seem to differ enough space stations are often pretty bland and the differences between crew members is hardly noticeable (at least among the Humans). I guess it doesn't help that the game is animated using pixelated retro graphics either.
- Primitive, linear conversation tree: Conversations are similar to games like Diablo, i.e. your input doesn't really matter and it's mainly for information purposes. Don't expect to find complex conversations trees that you often get in point ‘n' click adventures or RPGs
- Lots of micromanagement: The game requires a lot of micromanagement so Thank God they've got the pause button since it'd be otherwise impossible. Imagine the combat in FTL: Faster than Light except with five ships! That's right, five ships. That's a lot of crew members scurrying around to their respective stations, putting out fires, sealing holes in the hull and fending off intruders. Oh, and unlike FTL you can move the ships around in combat too adding even greater difficulty!
- Some extra polish needed: The game has a few typos and you're also able to die in the tutorial (without the game letting you know it): one time my entire crew died except a “dronecopter" so the game thought I still had crew left when realistically I didn't since the dronecopter is unable to man the navigation station meaning I was destined to drift in space forever!
Verdict:There's still many more worlds left for me to explore so I'm going to continue giving Interstellaria a go for the immediate future. Hopefully it can keep my interest long enough to even finish the main storyline, but that will be dependent on how difficult the remainder of the game is and how much grind I'll have to endure. At least the music is good… too bad I didn't back at that level in the original Kickstarter!
[ LINK: Official Interstellaria Website ]