LifeisXbox’s Spacebase Startopia review | When I first saw this announcement, my heart raced inside of my chest. Most of you may not know this game, but way back in the year 2001 a game called Startopia was released. Under the banner of Eidos & My Little Planet Ltd. Startopia set itself apart from the rest. Your building sandbox was a rotund spaceport. Here you had to accommodate and tend to the needs of wary space travelers. In my heart I was always hoping for a sequel or reboot of this otherwise amazing game, but alas it never came… not until we fast forward 20 years at least! (damn I’m old). Because today we get to introduce to you ‘Spacebase Startopia’. The spiritual successor created by Realmforge Studios and published by Kalypso Media. Spacebase Startopia puts you in the same position. You are the caretaker of your own space station and it is your task to make this a thriving den of enjoyment and business! Will you be able to succeed? Or will your story end up lost among the stars? That… is up to you captain! Let’s make our space jump into the great abyss that is this final frontier and delve into our review of… Spacebase Startopia!
We played Spacebase Startopia for 10 hours on Xbox Series X. This game is also available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and 5, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One.
What we liked!
- Fun Deck Boombox | Audiowise Spacebase Startopia is a little banger. Each deck has its own theme dedicated to it. I’ll explore this topic a bit further down. But with each setting, a theme follows in suit as well. Take the bio deck for instance. This deck is based (settings-wise) on an ambient floral and funghi surrounding. So, you would expect a likewise soundtrack. As to which I can happily confirm there is! Each deck has its own vibe and I couldn’t be giddier about the fact that they even thought about this little detail! Where others would make it one seamless transition of songs? Here you’ll be treated to a wide range of music, custom-tailored to suit the need of said deck.
- Ambient colors | One thing‘s a sure given. You’ll be surrounded by a plethora of moving, shifting, and living colors in Spacebase Startopia ‘s decks! Each deck has its own vibe and color pallet, and it shows how diverse and broad (more on this in the next point) Kalypso Media was thinking when developing this gem of a game! The first deck has an industrial and grungy look to it, signifying that you’re in the work section of the station. Here is where traders do their thing. A place where security monitors the comings and goings by every alien. One deck up, you’ll be blasted by vibrant and popping colors. Here is where your workers and visitors come to unwind, lose energy (your currency in Startopia) and leave all pillaged but content. And the final deck is your relaxation zone. Where the air is the freshest and your food and air-stuffs come from. Each zone is tailored specifically towards the use of said zone, and I absolutely LOVE this attention to detail!
- Diversity | Spacebase Startopia ‘s inhabitants are diverse, and that‘s just what a game of this magnitude should have. I’ve seen countless RTS games come and go and all had this one thing in common. The ‘meeple’ that run around are the exact same copy/paste of each other, thus giving the impression of being boring and as interesting as bland toast. Not in here! Each alien can come in a variety of colors, mood sets, and characters. Sure, you may think “but Alexis, they’re still the same model”. But, no, they’re not. Sure they may look the same, but the fact that they differ in color and character? Defines themselves from the crowd and allows them to become ‘their own’ NPC. It is a tiny detail that goes overlooked in a lot of other games, so to Kalypso Media? Kudos!
- Fun for hours | Time flies when playing Spacebase Startopia. So much so, that I was baffled by some of my finishing times. Because there is always something to do ‘on deck’, you’ll quickly be sucked from one event unto the other. This is in my opinion one of the better, if not best, implementations of management between macro and micro-management I’ve seen in a long while (on console). There’s an air of freedom and being able to do whatever you want in whichever way you want. If you want to go full warp speed ahead and blaze through the campaign missions? Sure, be your guest. But if you want to just sit back and relax? Manage your Spacebase in such a way that your vision would perfectly translate into what a visit to a utopian spaceport that quenches your thirst for adventure, fun, and economics would feel like? Then go right ahead! This is the perfect sandbox for you to play in. Build your castle and watch it thrive!
- Vermin everywhere | No, not the in-game variant of vermin. But the literal abbreviation of vermin… Bugs! Though, Spacebase Startopia runs like a dream? There still were moments that could have turned that dream into a nightmare. In the build that I got to play, there was a texture bug that would cause my entire map to “clip” and “contort” for a second. Controls that would suddenly glitch and hold me in a state of perpetual “not being able to do anything”. These bugs were minor or freak occurrences so I didn’t hold them to higher judgement. But I sure hope that these will be addressed, or otherwise, the score that I will be giving Spacebase Startopia will not be granted or warranted.
- Frames are wild | If I wouldn’t have played through all the available missions in sequence, I honestly wouldn’t have seen this little hiccup. I’m playing Spacebase Startopia on an Xbox Series X. And during the first few missions, the framerate was buttery smooth. It was then the third deck was unlocked for me to play around with, that I noticed things go sideways. The third deck for you to unlock is the Fun deck. In here you’ll be creating and managing your discos, gambling sections, … In essence, this deck is your Las Vegas deck.
This deck also adds a lot, and I really mean this, of extra effects. From light shows to moving particles. It is also here where my framerate said ‘Screw you guys, I’m going home. And while I know that this will be patched and improved on, it did get me to wonder. If I am just noticing this on a Series X. How would the previous levels fair on the previous generation of Xbox? I sure hope that they did keep this in mind …
- Controls | Spacebase Startopia‘s controls have a curve to them that you’ll have to learn. While they are simple and straightforward at first glance? They can still be a burden and nuisance for anyone trying to rush through things. Forgetting to push the left or right bumper when tapping one of the buttons might execute a different action than the one intended in your mind, causing minor frustrations. So be sure to familiarize yourself with the entire layout.
What we disliked
- Nothing | I’m not sad to be saying this, but I could not find anything even short of being bad here. Keep in mind that I only got to see maybe a third of what the game has to offer so this still might be subject to change.
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