Spacebase Startopia preview: New space program

Inspired by the 2001 Startopia, this sci-fi take on the management and strategy genres looks to shoot for the moon.

2

Published by Kalypso media, Spacebase Startopia is a management sim set aboard the Startopia, a massive spaceship traveling the galaxy. Players assume the role of the Startopia’s station commander. As station commander, you will constantly need to keep up with and satisfy the needs of the aliens residing on or visiting the spaceship. During my hands-off demo, I got to see what a typical day is like on the Startopia.

All aboard the Startopia

The overall goal in Spacebase Startopia is to gather energy. Energy works as the game’s currency and can be used by the player to expand the station and create more attractions. Energy is primarily gained through visiting aliens. If an alien’s needs are fulfilled, they’ll leave behind some energy. However, balancing the needs of those on board is easier said than done.

There can be a vast number of aliens aboard the Startopia at any given time. Each being unique from one another, with their own special requirements and demands. Some aliens are easier to satisfy, but may not have much energy to offer. Others will have tougher demands to meet but will yield higher rewards. This is the core of Spacebase Startopia’s gameplay.

Managing the crowd

In the demo, I was shown a bustling base with several rooms packed with aliens. The player would select random aliens, pulling up a mini menu full of information on that creature. Among the data, players can see alien feedback. This tells the player directly what the alien is in need of, or is satisfied with. For example, an alien may be hungry and in need of something to eat. It’s important to keep a close eye on this as an alien may leave the station and give poor reviews if their anger is high enough. Aliens will have a fireball above their head to indicate their frustration.

Some things that can lower an aliens satisfaction meters are things like trash and clutter, or a lack of entertainment facilities. You can counter these issues by installing a garbage bot, or the addition of a game room. 

Three unique decks

The Startopia features three unique decks. The subdeck is best described as the “general” area of the ship. Here, aliens enter and exit the ship. The subdeck seen in the demo houses a comm station, which provides the latest news and information around the galaxy. 

Next up is the fundeck. The fundeck is the ship’s entertainment hub and features fancy buildings and fun activities for aliens to enjoy. A key point brought up during my demo was that the fundeck will be where aliens spend the most of their currency, making it the most lucrative of the three decks. Players looking to stack up energy will want to put a strong emphasis on the integrity of their fundeck. 

The third and final deck aboard the Spacebase Startopia is the biodeck. With the majority of the spaceship being busy with flashing lights and high-level technology, the biodeck is meant to balance things out a bit with a change of scenery. Here, there are natural crops such as plants and trees. The player can then harvest to gain resources, such as medicine or fiber. 

Infinity and beyond

During the demo, the player received word of an altercation on the biodeck. Upon entering, the game entered combat mode. Utilizing an RTS combat mode, the player was able to command units to attack dangerous eggs on the verge of hatching. He also ordered individual security drones to different locations and assigned them to attack specific enemies. The swap to combat mode was pretty seamless and seemed simple to understand and use. 

Spacebase Startopia takes what was done in 2001’s Startopia and looks to triple down on it. The management aspect looks like just enough to the point where there will always be something to do, without completely overwhelming the player. The integration of a RTS combat system looks to add a needed sense of variety and break from the game's core gameplay loop. Players will have the chance to jump into this empire management sim when it hits full release later this year.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. Donovan is currently studying broadcast journalism at Bowie State University with hopes to join the Shacknews team full time after graduation. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

From The Chatty
Hello, Meet Lola