[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap]’m not a huge fan of space simulators, but when I caught Interstellaria on Kickstarter the pitch brought back fond memories of playing a similar game called SunDog on my Atari ST. Unfortunately, the nostalgia factor only goes so far in deciding if a game is worth playing or not. I’m not saying that it’s a bad game, and it’s a great one for fans of the genre, but sometimes taking the plunge with rose-tinted glasses can mean a less than stellar experience.
First off, a bit of a disclaimer. Interstellaria has a bit of a learning curve. Not an especially steep one but still enough of a barrier to entry that it might scare some people away. That said, once you are able to get a handle of the controls it can be a fun game to play. If you’re willing to put in a lot of time managing your fleet of up to five ships. The tutorial does give you a basic idea of what you need to do and how to go about doing it. Plus, it eventually gets you your first ship. Which is a decent starter ship but still a piece of junk. And it has little room for expansion.
Getting around and doing stuff is simple. You click on your little pixelated buddies and you assign them tasks on your ship. Eat, sleep, or run one of the myriad ship’s systems. Land on planets and send out an away team to go harvesting for resources and loot to sell off in starports, shoot things, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Starports let you buy and sell pretty much anything. I actually very much enjoyed this aspect of Interstellaria. Unfortunately, there’s more to the game than going all mercantile.
The biggest pet peeve that I had with Interstellaria would have to be with regards to the combat. Both in space and on the ground. While the away team combat isn’t too bad as long as you keep an eye out on your crew and you have some medkits handy, space combat is a royal pain. I kept running into the enemy and I kept dying. I had no clue what I was doing and the tutorial really doesn’t let you know how to fight. I had to constantly reload my game to the point of frustration. You can flee but it takes a while to spool up your FTL drives and sometimes the enemy won’t let you run. Which means load and reload.
I think that there’s some overarching storyline here, which has something to do with black blobs taking people from your home planet and doing lord knows what to them. I couldn’t get very far into the game to uncover the mystery. Even if I wanted to trudge through and get the full experience my playthrough crashed on me to the point where I couldn’t load the game anymore. Which is always a major turnoff for me. If I can’t continue a saved game I generally don’t return to the game until it gets fixed. Especially for one that can take a long time to finish.
I may come off as harsh towards Interstellaria, but I desperately wanted to have a more enjoyable experience. As it is, it’s still a good simulation game that has the potential to be even better. Perhaps with future patches I’ll want to return to it and I’ll have more fun playing. Still, if you’re willing to overlook its weaknesses it’s worth playing. Just be aware that it’s not a perfect game.