Do you want to be in charge of a giant space donut swarming with extraterrestrials? You’ve never had that question posed to you before, have you? Spacebase Startopia, the game we’ll be looking at more closely today, asks this exact question. Of course, we’ll also consider how fantastic it is. I recently covered the pre-release of this game, so if you’re looking for a quick summary, click here.
Let me preface this review by saying that I have some reservations about it. By reading other assessments of the games under consideration, I ensure that my analysis does not come across as solitary. Whether or not I agree with them is irrelevant because it has no bearing on my final grade. I’m just looking for other people’s perspectives. Because Spacebase Startopia is a spiritual sequel to the first game Startopia, which was launched over a decade ago, this is particularly relevant.
There’s been a lot of comparing going on; that’s what I’ve noticed. If you loved the original, you’d be devastated if the successor, whether spiritual or not, falls short of your expectations. Because of this approach, I believe you’ll be much more critical than starting from the beginning. On the other hand, I can’t draw any comparisons because I’m a complete beginner to the game. I bring this up because some of you may be looking for comparisons and won’t find any.
Let’s get this out of the way: Theme Hospital’s Dungeon Keeper meets Spacebase Startopia’s building sim outrage. You’re in charge of a space station, and your mission is to keep the various alien species living there happy while also making money for your bureaucratic overlords.
VAL assists with all of this. It’s safe to say that your artificial intelligence (AI) is sarcastic, and that’s an understatement. Something as simple as a pat on the back can be hurtful, even if you’re doing well. After all, you are nothing more than a caveman meat-sack with brains the size of a cabbage. What else would you expect from your computer if not utter contempt?
In Spacebase Startopia, each level is a mission with different objectives that you must complete. Three of the four are simulated scenarios. If you don’t make a colossal blunder, you’ll be granted remote access to a genuine station. There are three levels to your space station, which means you have to multitask a lot. The sub-deck, the fun deck, and the bio-deck are all types of decks.
Your manufacturing facilities, med-bays, and sleeping pods are all types of decks. It isn’t lovely for business if you don’t pay attention to any of these three areas. Without a bio-deck, there would be no way to produce food. If you’re going to have dancing aliens, make sure you have a dance floor for them. A lot of plates are being spun here, and that’s exactly what I like.
The extraterrestrials entrusted to your care are doing more than just operating your space station. Remember, you have a large pool of extraterrestrials you can draw from to keep things running smoothly, but keep in mind that they are mostly there for fun. As a result, you must do everything in your power to make them feel welcome and comfortable. If they’re not satisfied, they’ll let you know, so it’s essential to keep an eye on your demographics.
The irritated aliens won’t just sulk around; they’ll explain to you why they’re so angry. If they complain that the place is filthy, you’ll have a garbage problem to contend with. They may inform you that they cannot shower, in which case you will be forced to construct an additional berth, for example. Keep an eye on everything, and you’ll be fine.
Aliens on Spacebase Startopia perform a variety of tasks, so you’ll want to make sure you’ve got enough on hand to keep things running smoothly at all times. The nature-loving Dryads, for instance, look after your bio-dome. They tend to plants while you’re away, and they harvest them when you return. These plants don’t just make leaves; they also release oxygen as a byproduct.
Given this significance for daily functioning, it’s well worth checking if production meets your specifications. Unless you’ve hired the right aliens to run your installation, it will just sit there, looking pretty. This is something to think about if you want everything to run smoothly.
VAL is perpetually ringing in your ears. You have to spend a lot of time in the bio-deck when harvesting resources for one of your factories. Aliens in need of medical attention are also stumbling around your submarine’s sub-deck. They’ll spread the disease to others without proper care, and dealing with sick aliens is never a good time. You also have a competitor beaming biological weapons into your space station. People in your neighborhood will be sick to their stomachs if these go off. VAL notifies you as soon as a new member joins, whether or not they are breathing, so you can deal with any problems as they arise.
To put it another way, a lot is going on at once in Spacebase Startopia. I enjoyed it because I’ve previously experienced games with a similar vibe. Players who prefer to go at their own pace may feel overwhelmed by the game’s demands. This game may not be for you if you fall into one of these categories. There are three levels of difficulty to choose from when playing Spacebase Startopia. If you want to ease into things, this is the way to go.
Play the tutorials; that’s all I can say. Spacebase Startopia isn’t the type of game where you jump right in and pick things up along the way. If you do that, you’ll have a difficult time progressing. After a single playthrough, I realized that I didn’t understand any of the controls and got tool-tips because I had ignored the tutorials.
This game isn’t about holding hands. If you ask VAL, she’ll tell you what needs to be done, but she won’t tell you how to do it exactly. I’m currently on a mission to observe the emergence of giant carnivorous snails in my bio-deck. VAL has kindly informed me that I do not want to eat my aliens.
She hasn’t explained how the machine transports work, and now I’m scrambling to get my mechs to a different deck while they stand there looking stupid. She’s not been very forthcoming. I’ll figure it out, but patience and a willingness to experiment until I understand what I’m supposed to do are required. You’ll be let down if you expect step-by-step instructions for everything.
The Spacebase Startopia control system irritates me. I believe it’s since they’re trying to cram too many commands onto a single console control pad. However, controlling this title takes some getting used to. When the stakes are high, you don’t want to be fiddling with buttons trying to figure out what they do. Due to the presence of a keyboard, the PC version of Spacebase Startopia is unlikely to have this issue. The PS4 release was not great, to be fair, but they couldn’t have done much better.
Retro-building enthusiasts will adore this game. Because I can’t compare Spacebase Startopia and its predecessor, I won’t say that it’s better or worse. This game is both funny and frustrating when played on its own. If you enjoy games that don’t take you to step by step through the entire process and instead let you learn from your mistakes, you’ll enjoy this one. Those used to having numerous save points and constantly being reminded how to carry out even the most basic tasks will quickly become frustrated by this.
Spacebase Startopia is an excellent way to waste time. It takes time to complete the missions correctly, so don’t expect to breeze through them. Each with its own set of parameters, the three different difficulty settings will allow you to play the game repeatedly. If you enjoy sim games, there’s no better one to add to your collection than this one.