Developer, Blyts came to our attention with their first attempt at funding an adventure title, Inspire Me. While this first campaign ultimately didn’t reach it’s goal, it proved that Blyts were capable of creating something noteworthy. When they returned 5 months later with a revised project, now titled Kelvin and the Infamous Machine, backers were happy to get on board. With their love letter to classic point and click adventure games completed, they’ve returned to Kickstarter for their next challenge. STELLIUM may be another adventure title, but it’s darker tone sets it far apart from its wacky predecessors.
Where Kelvin took players on an adventure through time, STELLIUM instead traps them in space. Taking command of an off-world mining colony, players must manage resources to keep their crew alive. Decisions have life or death consequences as the colony unravels, disease looms, and resources dwindle. The growing tension is a far cry from Kelvin’s witty historical quips and that’s pretty awesome.
Frequently once a developer hits on a winning formula they will continue rehashing the same ideas in subsequent projects. It would have been easy for Blyts to follow up their success with another goofy comedy adventure, but instead they’re pushing past their comfort zone to produce something new. For the most part it actually seems to work.
Playing as director, Frank Donner, players need to coordinate their staff while developing new facilitates and equipment to improve output. There are certain mission-critical resources which players are responsible for managing. Failure to maintain these will lead to catastrophic consequences for everyone on the team.
It’s not all fun and gardening though, something is gravely wrong with the colony. As staff succumb to a mysterious pathogen the game will shift to side-scrolling action sequence as Frank fights off the infected horde. It’s a clever twist that keeps players from getting too comfortable with their daily management tasks and breaks up gameplay.
The only minor complaint I had (oddly) was the art-style. While Blyts has attempted a more ‘grown-up’ animated look, the characters initially came across more as archetype caricatures. It wasn’t until I watched the Kickstarter trailer that I realized the story was actually much darker than the graphics let on.
It’s exciting to see an indie developer grow through their projects. The huge shift in STELLIUM proves that Blyts is a serious studio worth supporting.