Humanity has always been curious about the unknown in life, and the danger in discovery. Space is the most dangerous unknown of all, with a vast wealth of discoveries and potential lifeforms all just out of our current reach. The lack of knowledge about the cosmos makes it an excellent setting for video games, with limitless potential to be explored by creative and motivated game developers. The following three indie titles each have a unique take on humanity’s final frontier, and are poised to explode onto the gaming scene:
- Starfall Tactics
Starfall Tactics is a fleet-based, multi-player “Wargame” being developed by Snowforged Entertainment. The game showcases a limitless customization system which will allow players to personalize every ship in their space-faring flotilla. Starfall will have real-time strategy elements, but the developers state that there will be no base building and economic details will be straightforward.
Combat is a primary focus, with a wide variety of strategies and armaments available to make each encounter an exciting experience. Battles will take place on a 2D plane with 3D ships and environments, featuring a variety of ships with different roles, a module-based ship damage system, and asteroid-shattering audio.
The game will feature a persistent universe where three in-game factions battle for control and conditions are constantly changing. This approach offers serious potential for those interested in both co-op and competitive play.
Snowforged is currently running a Kickstarter campaign, and Starfall has also been Greenlit by Steam. They hope to offer an alpha version of Starfall Tactics this Fall, while the full release is scheduled for Q4 of 2016.
- Blacksea Odyssey
Blacksea Odyssey is a 2D top-down Shoot ‘Em Up being developed by a company of the same name. Players must hunt giant space fish atop a thruster-propelled surfboard, using spears and harpoons to take down their prey. Blacksea will feature rogue-like gameplay and RPG elements, allowing players to customize their weapon and ship. Upgrades offer a wide variety of changes including elemental effects, additional spears, or improved ship thrusters.
Blacksea will feature scores of scaly enemies, each with their own unique behaviors and difficulties to overcome. Boss battles look to be a throwback to the arcade days; giant enemies stretch beyond the screen and push players to the limit. Combat features a dismemberment system in which individual pieces of an enemy can be targeted and removed, creating new strategic approaches in hunts.
Blacksea Odyssey is expected to reach full release in Spring 2016. Keep an eye out for Kickstarter and Early Access information. In the meantime, enjoy watching one of their recent demos of the game.
XO is a single-player game that looks to be a mix of real-time strategy, RPG and 4X being developed by Jumpdrive Studios. XO will focus on the big picture instead of micro-management; operations and fleet-wide tactics will be of greater importance than individual units. Combat will be real time, but with a pause feature that will allow players to plan out their assault.
In-game events must be approached with care by the player, as every decision will have a lasting impact on their faction, the universe and its people. Permadeath will make every situation even more stressful; XO will challenge players to overcome the dangers of outer space or die. Procedural generation of every element from planets and star systems right down to faction personalities will look to make every play-through a unique experience.
XO has no specific release date, but is expected to be available some time this year. The game was recently featured on Square Enix Collective, while future plans include crowdfunding and concepts for Steam Greenlight.
Riding high on hope and determination, these developers prepare to takeoff. With aspirations like these, they will reach the stars..
Stay tuned for future articles on these titles, which will include Q&A sessions with the development teams.
(Note: All games in this article are in the developmental phase; details are subject to change).