Beat the game, impressions

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Image Not Available, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. Image Not Available

    Image Not Available Pangalactic Porcupine

    So I just finished the main campaign and here are my impressions:

    I normally don't care about visuals in a game but this case deserves an exception. Normally when indy games try going for a retro look they recognize the limitations of these old graphic styles and make something that is reminiscent of the old but also looks good by todays standards. Here it is just a straight up copy of the artstyle of Space Quest and such which just plain looks bad. Aside from the drab color palette this makes it often hard to discern overlapping objects and ties into the control issues described below.

    UI and controls
    The user interface is pretty bad. The inventory system with its division into Mission and Fleet cargo is very clunky and managing them gets tedious quickly when you buy ship modules and then you have to pull up the inventory, transfer from mission to fleet cargo, close the inventory, pull up the fleet menu, etc. and the whole system just seems convoluted and unnecessary. Why not just one unified inventory? Also you can only see item descriptions from the inventory, not the fleet menu. This is very annoying when trying to discern if that weapon I'm installing is the basic particle emitter or the advanced one, since in the fleet menu they're both unhelpfully labeled "Particle".

    Controlling multiple crew is annoying because they like to bunch up in the same spot and its hard to select the one you want. There is no good way to determine their health and ammo in those situations either. Something like a sidebar with portraits, health and ammo akin to FTL would have been nice. As a former long-time X player I have a lot of experience when it comes to clunky interfaces so this didn't discourage me too much but still, that is not a game you want to be compared to.

    The autosave system deserves special mention: it doesn't save to any proper slot and is deleted whenever the is exited, meaning in case of a crash you can't retrieve it. This is a serious flaw that pretty much defeats the entire purpose of having autosaves in the first place, at least for me.

    Furthermore there are a myriad of small nitpicks like not being able to doubleclick a save slot to save the game or pause/unpause with the map view open. These are too small to mention individually, but add up to be noticeable due to sheer quantity.

    Exploration is a bit sparse with most planets only being involved in the linear main quest. Some of them have minor side stuff you can find and many more just aren't interactable at all. Some more content on that front would be nice but what is there is okay for a $10 game. The main quest itself can be done in ~10 hours give or take depending on how sandbox happy you are. Random anomalies spice things up a bit but most of them seem to be purely cosmetic stuff like everyone goes bald/gets a sexchange, etc. or otherwise inconsequential like minor damage to the ship. Event choices definitely don't have the gravity that FTL has and while that might be difficult to achieve in an open-ended sandbox game, some more impactful or complex events would be nice.

    Space combat is fairly solid in principle but kinda breaks down because of how easy it is. If you put a decent amount of
    energy into your engines you go lightning fast and can easily outrun not only the ridiculously slow enemies but even their projectiles(!). Dodging fire is completely trivial as a result. I used a Kushan(?) corvette and frigate in my fleet and even with only 4-5 energy in engines they were just about untouchable as they were weaving through hailstorms of fire. Meanwhile the enemies were all slowboating in straight lines, randomly ramming asteroids, etc. even the fighters looked like they'd have trouble outrunning a glacier. The only enemy that had any chance of even hitting me was the final boss because he actually had reasonably fast projectiles.

    Encounter design also seems lacking (perhaps as a result of the above). I haven't fought a single fleet I thought was challenging and that is just with a corvette and a frigate, I don't even want to imagine how easy it is with a cruiser. Nevertheless this is the most promising part of the game and a rebalance of player/enemy/projectile speed and the addition of tougher enemy fleets could go a long way towards making smart maneuvering more important and producing a more satisfying level of challenge.

    The ground portion of the game seems pretty bland. All it is is click the places you want your crew to go to, hit G for when you want them to shoot things and hit H and go AFK after you killed all the enemies to collect the resources. Boss fights are simply a repetition of "jump into arena, fire a few shots, jump out before the boss can close into melee range" with an occasional trip back to the ship to reload (which might sound cheesy but it is really the only way to do it I found, as the game doesn't really allow for more sophisticated tactics).

    On that note, the whole ammo mechanic seems pointlessly tedious. Your ammo supply lasts for a few encounters at most and then you need to run all the way back to the ship to reload. Even in the middle of combat you can always just run away with no penalty and reload. Self-charging guns are rare and can only be obtained through random drops, meaning tedious grind. Additionally, running back to the ship also let's you completely refill your health to full. This renders ground combat completely meaningless as victory is assured, it only boils down to how much time you're going to waste running back to the ship.

    I think it would have been better if you didn't land in the ship proper but teleported down or used a shuttle or some such so you couldn't access the ship's facilities without losing your progress. The ammo system could have either been reworked into a personal inventory system where ammo competes against healing items, loot and armor or just ditched entirely. As it is it adds nothing to the game.

    What I don't understand is why there is platforming and platforming hazards in this game. You cannot manually control your crew, they do all their pathing automatically so all it adds is frustration when your crewmember dies because you set him to harvesting resources and he kept running into dripping goo or jumping into pools of lava. It would have been better to just make them always platform without fail so at least you wouldn't get frustrated over something you have no control over.

    Another gripe I have is the (lack of) armor. It can't be bought and has to be obtained through random drops, meaning either tedium grinding for it or more tedium later running back to the ship to refill health. There seems to be a distinct lack of variety too, the only sets I found were regular clothes, the human SWAT looking set, the hazmat set, the warrior set and the pirate clothes with 2-3 unique hats in between. Maybe this is just bad luck on the drops and there are sets I didn't find but as it stands some more variety would've be nice, like the white and power armor human NPCs are wearing or some more hats and clothes for visual variety if nothing else.

    Boy are there a lot of them. I'm not going to list every bug I found while playing, just the biggest. The first thing I noticed is many controls are unresponsive. When enabling fast forward in ground mode I often have to hit the F key twice to start and always to stop it. The quicksave button often has to be mashed until I get several "saved game" messages at once. This combined with the aforementioned autosave problem has actually cost me about an hour of gameplay when the game crashed and none of my many quicksaves had actually worked.

    Pathfinding is pretty bad albeit the patch improved it and crew no longer get randomly stuck on ledges. They still get stuck when harvesting resources though and will simply stand in front of a resource until you manually right click it. Combat behavior is often erratic with shooters running into melee range for no good reason and various other weird behaviors. The only good way to do combat I found is to give a move order, then switch everyone to guard so they don't try to path to whatever enemy you clicked.

    Since the patch I've had problems with anomalies disappearing just as I get close. It only happens on anomalies outside of nebulas but often I would get close and as it should have triggered the event it just disappeared without a message or anything. Not as omnipresent as the above two but still annoying.

    There are some good ideas here and I can definitely see potential for a good game with some balancing, but it is also dragged down by half-baked or poorly executed ideas, an overall lack of content and general bugginess. I've seen comments on Steam from the developer that he is willing to address some of the UI flaws so if that happens it would definitely be a step in the right direction and I hope future patches will address some of the balancing issues with space and ground combat. And if there was a content pack, whether free or paid which adds more ships/clothes/weapons/planets/etc. I would definitely check it out.

    As it stands for $10 I don't regret my purchase, but it is definitely not on par with giants like FTL or Starbound or even regular indie games in that price range like Halfway, which didn't launch with such a myriad of issues.
      severedskullz likes this.
    • After a solid 9 Hour session, I agree with everything you have said. In addition, I find the game quickly jumps into "RPG Grind" mode shortly after the tutorial. Making money for new ships is a major pain - but my BIGGEST annoyance is the fact that when you buy a new ship, you dont get any sort of controls what-so-ever. I mean at the very LEAST give us a navigation module, sleeping quarters, and a fridge. I cant tell you how long I spent looking for those 3 things especially since I was scared that -like my crew - if I leave it at the station without being able to bring it with me then I would lose it completely. It did not state that a ship "flies" with you without any sort of crew.

      I finally ragequit when there was a hole in my ship which appeared behind my controls, but I could not fix them unless I went into the ship management, removed the blocking station, fixed the leak, then place it back again all while in combat.

      A few minor issues that I had - it seems like the AI randomly chooses when to actually go fufill needs when they are not assigned to a station. Sometimes they would go immediately when the hunger popped up, sometimes they never went and I had to manually tell them to go eat. That level of micromanaging was absolutely frustrating. It would have been nice if non-essential (AKA Not on a station) would automatically fufill needs when I am hovering over a planet, or even during battle.

      The bug were... bearable, to say the least. My biggest gripe was that some of the weapons were converting to-and-from different types, such as the Terra 30MM Gatling gun that goes to some sort of 15MM Array when installed on a ship, and then converts back to a 20MM once taken out of the ship. Seeing that the game's game-data (Not the engine obviously) is ENTIRELY written in XML. Popped in a few copy-pasted strings, and BAM. all fixed.

      The combat was... basic to say the least. Shooting left and right was fun, but it didn't allow me to experience that sense of "strategy" by shooting form atop a ledge or something... It was pretty much what @Image Not Available was sayin: Go to a spot, press G, and wait. But even then, you could still find spots where there was just a 1 block gap, or a stairwell between enemies and if they didnt have any ranged attack, they were sitting ducks. The AI is not even smart enough to come after me across a 1 block gap, so that just ruins it for me.

      In terms of pathfinding, I really didnt have any issues. My only issue was the fact that some maps where I had to climb up big ladders, I couldnt FREAKING SEE THE TOP to figure out where to click to get my guys to climb up the ladder. IMO if I click the ladder while they are on the ground, they should climb the ladder. I shouldnt have to scroll all the way up to try and find where the ladder ends.

      As I also feel like my $10 for 10 hours of time was well worth it, but as it stands, I cant say I was very impressed with the game. Seeing as the entire game is pretty much XML for the campaign, I can already see the modding possibilities for new ships and locations... I haven't found anything in terms of weapons yet as they appear hardcoded.
        Last edited: Jul 19, 2015

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