- Developer: Realmforge Studios
- Publisher: Kalypso Media
- Release Date: 25/03/2021
- Price: £49.99 / $59.99
- Review code provided by Kalypso Media
Introducing: Spacebase Startopia Review
Spacebase Startopia is the first strategy game I’ve had the pleasure of doing a review for on my PlayStation 5. Having been a long time fan of the strategy genre, I was excited to see what this modern rendition of Startopia brought to the table. The original entry as Startopia back in 2001 was met with favorable reviews but pittered out and didn’t see any subsequent releases in the series. Fast forward twenty years to when strategy giant, Kalypso Media, reboots the franchise for modern consoles. How does this new rendition fare on the likes of the PlayStation 5? Continue reading to find out.
Monument of Shame
One thing I didn’t remember from the original Startopia was the tongue-in-cheek humor. Now having been officially inducted into the Monument of Shame, I can proudly say the humor is strong in this reimagined Startopia. There is a story which frames many of the scenarios and tutorials for Spacebase Startopia. It’s nothing too serious as you are essentially the only carbon based lifeform capable of taking control of an abandoned spacebase. Having been vacant for seventeen years, it’s going to take a lot of work to remedy past problems. But the main goal is to provide a sanctuary to the various alien lifeforms who too often war with another over simple cultural misunderstandings. And hey, if you make some energy (the game’s currency) while you’re at it, who’s to turn a nose up at that?
Spacebase is rife with humor. VAL, the AI who guides your career in rebuilding Startopia is programmed with enough sass to put Alexa and Siri to shame. I didn’t think artificial intelligence was capable of sarcasm but boy was I wrong. Any mistake I made was met with cruel criticism. Success was laughed off with patronizing comments. VAL was dynamic and surprised me with comments about decisions I made which took me by surprise. It was a nice change of pace to be insulted by my game instead of praised for following simple commands.
2001: Spacebase Odyssey
Spacebase Startopia is a strategy game but you could also call it a business simulator. Your goal is to build a successful space station which attracts various beings from across the galaxy. To do this you need to budget your energy and balance a variety of needs. Since there are so many different alien species, catering to them all comes down to careful planning and a bit of micromanaging.
There are three decks on the station and each serves a unique purpose. Where you choose to place buildings on each one is solely at your discretion. The main deck is where you place the majority of buildings to keep your station operational and provide the essentials for the visiting aliens. This ranges from medical rooms, living quarters and ice cream vending machines. All key to survival. The Fun Deck is exactly what it sounds like. You construct a variety of rooms to entertain your guests. Finally is the Bio Deck where you can terraform different environments to create supplies like oxygen and minerals.
There’s a lot going on in Startopia. Pop ups draw your attention allowing you to assign perks and make decisions. Most of which, VAL will promptly remind you of your inadequacy. You’ll be attacked by enemy forces and subjected to trash bombs. Failure to deal with these impact your rating. There’s a lot of depth in this deep space strategy sim. Aside from constructing a magnificent base and dealing with baddies, you’ll construct towering mech units for combat and negotiate trade. Spacebase Startopia has several modes with multiplayer and sandbox. This is an engrossing game which will keep you busy for a long time. The biggest drawback I ran into was the control scheme. The camera movement was finicky a lot of the time. I accidentally zoomed into the floor more times than I can count. Likewise, the buttons to call up different prompts took time to get used to.
New and Improved VAL 9000
The art style in Startopia is just as campy as the tongue-in-cheek commentary with a bright cartoony side. It was a fun endeavor zooming in on the aliens and watching them go about their busy days vacationing on the station. There are a fair amount of icons that float above to clue you in if needs aren’t being met. This was a great way to see at a glance what you could quickly improve on.
The soundtrack made good use of sci fi effects and fit with the overall setting. The music worked well with Spacebase as it played in the background. I was also pleased with the voice acting as I didn’t have to read VAL’s snide remarks. I was able to hear them loud and clear blaring from my speakers. Fortunately the only bugs or glitches I ran into were intentionally added as part of the game.
Spacebase Startopia was a pleasant deviation from getting destroyed repeatedly in Demon Souls on my PlayStation 5. It’s a bright and humorous strategy game which gives a lot of freedom with a lot of depth. There are a lot of ways to play and the main campaign built on the initial tutorials giving better clarification on how to play. Once mastered you can challenge yourself with multiplayer. The asking price is fair considering the amount of content you get and the customizable sandbox mode. Spacebase Startopia is a fully fleshed out experience which will keep strategy gamers happy, if not morally despondent at VAL’s constant barrage of offhand remarks.
- Deep Gameplay and Customization
- Witty Commentary
- Several Modes of Play
- Stubborn Camera Controls and General Control Scheme