Space, the final frontier. A place where a rampant outbreak of space diarrhea can put a dent in those plans of your crew surviving until the endgame.
Into The Stars first grabbed my attention as being somewhat similar to Faster Then Light, the roguelike space sim. In some ways it is quite similar.
Players must navigate sections of space in search of resources to allow them to continue their journey and reach the end of the game.
In Into The Stars the player takes the role of a star ship captain, fleeing from a hostile alien race, and attempting to guide their crew through the depths of the void to find a new home.
After selecting six primary crew members to man the systems on the ship players are ready to ship out.
The idea behind the game is to find the necessary resources to keep your ship, and passengers, alive long enough to reach your goal.
The ship uses a number of important resources. The most important for the ship is the fuel used to keep the engines running, while the crew and passengers need a supply of carbon dioxide for the oxygen scrubbers, a food and water source, as well as supplies for exploration and military engagement.
These are all gained through exploring planets found in space, or anomalies such as derelict spacecraft.
Exploring space is fun in the game. The map is divided into small sectors, which become progressively more dangerous the longer the player stays in them. The incentive is to keep moving without attracting the attention of the aliens that the ship is meant to be fleeing.
It’s a good risk vs reward mechanic as the potential to stay in a sector longer for potential resources is balanced by the ever increasing threat of attack.
The game also plays in real time. Unlike Faster Than Light, in which players jumped to each section and remained static, Into The Stars allows players to fly freely through space.
The freedom of the exploration is a nice touch, but comes with a frustration factor. The engines can easily use up a lot of fuel if they’re pressed too hard, so wanting to escape dangerous territory quickly can often lead to a fuel crisis aboard the ship.
In terms of layout everything is displayed from the first person view within the cockpit. When viewing the exterior of the ship players can gain a better understanding of their surroundings, with no HUD to impede their vision.
Inside the ship the player gains access to the Captain’s Chair. From here they are able to view resources, check on the crew member and passenger status, and issue commands. It’s also from here that skirmish battles with other ships are directed from.
This gives the game a very Star Trek-esque feel to it with multiple monitors and screens available to inspect all of the elements from the ship. It gives the player a feeling of command and authority which does wonders for immersion. It’s also from this chair that the player gets notifications of any events that may occur on the ship.
The events are not just the attack from enemy ships, or supplies running low. The civilian passengers that the ship is carrying tend to get into trouble on multiple occasions during the journey.
Anything from medical emergencies, such as outbreaks of disease, to criminal activity on board must be dealt with by your primary crew members.
This is where crew member skills come into play.
Crew members who have higher medical knowledge will be able to resolve medical emergencies better than one who does not. This idea of crew members having a set of skills is reminiscent of Faster Than Light, and it serves Into The Stars well.
Crew skills factor into almost everything that happens in the game. When exploring planets crew members must be assigned the roles that best suit their skillsets in order to increase the chances of survival and reward.
This carries over into combat too where crew members better suited to weapon management and shield upkeep will allow for a better performance during ship on ship engagements.
The game isn’t without its faults, however.
Resource management is quite difficult as food and oxygen will decay at a steady rate regardless of the player’s actions. This means that food and oxygen for the 10,000 strong civilian passengers may run out quicker than the fuel for the ship, and players must watch in horror as their civilian population slowly die off through lack of resources.
While this does put pressure on the crew to explore and scavenge all they can, it can become a stressful process if the necessary resources aren’t found in time to prevent disaster.
On top of this is the problem of exploration being a little boring if nothing happens. Flying through space looks great, but with no events being triggered it feels like a drag to fly from one place to another with no activity.
Despite these problems the game holds up well for an Early Access title. There is always the potential that more will be added, and the game balanced further. It is a solid title with a few issues that will hopefully be resolved with future updates.
Are you a fan of Into The Stars? What do you think of the game? Let us know in the comments below.