Title: Into the Stars
Version Tested: PC
Available On: Windows, Mac, and Linux
Developer: Fugitive Games
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Genre: Action, Adventure, Indie, Simulation, Strategy
Official Site: Into the Stars
Release Date: Mar 4, 2016
Where to Buy: Steam
Into the Stars is a space survival simulation game that uses some core mechanics similar to that of the popular space sim, FTL and tries to add to, and expand on them in new ways. I was excited to get my hands on the game because I love the genre, and Into the Stars looks fantastic. After spending a dozen hours with the game from beginning to end, I believe I am ready to give my verdict on whether or not this game is worth your time and money. So without further delay, let’s get this review started.
The story behind the game is presented to you via a short intro movie and a few dialogue slides. It’s a pretty standard sci-fi story… Basically, your planet was attacked and destroyed by a hostile race called the Skorn. In a last-ditch effort to save humanity, massive colony ships called “Arks” were launch with the last of the population onboard. All but one of these Arks were tracked down and destroyed by the Skorn leaving only your ship, the Ark 13, remaining. So it’s your job to assemble your crew, maintain your ship, and get your passengers to a new home safe from the Skorn. It all has a very Battlestar Galactica feel to it.
Beyond the narrative, Into the Stars really shines in the graphical department. The game was built using Unreal Engine 4, and it really shows in the absolutely beautiful visuals. The Ark 13 and its bridge are what you will spend most of the game looking at, and they are both well-designed and easy on the eyes. The only notable exception to Into the Star’s beauty is the character models used on the bridge to represent your crew. These characters possess a certain, inhuman quality, and I never got used to having to look at their dead-eyed faces. Into the Stars also knocks it out of the park with its sound design, which features an original score from Mass Effect composer, Jack Wall.
The gameplay itself consists of moving your ship in real time from planet to planet, gathering vital resources via mining and probing, and sending your crew out on missions to gather new technology and other useful items. The whole time you are also doing your best to avoid the Skorn, who are still sending ships out to hunt you down and destroy you. If you do encounter the Skorn it will lead to a ship-to-ship battle. These battles revolve around 4 systems, lasers and torpedoes for offense, and shields and evasion for defense. You assign crew members to each system and control them in real time as you do battle with your enemy. At first, I found these battles annoying and difficult, but once I got the hang of them I found them much easier. That being said, combat is really one of the weaker parts of the game, and I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the exploration and resource gathering.
As much praise as I have given the game, one area that I had serious issues with was the user interface. There were several menus that seemed unintuitive, and there were times when I was trying to find a certain button to click on and it took me a few moments to locate it due to it not standing out from the background. Another issue I had, is that I would like to see the game get an interactive tutorial. It does feature a hint system that does a decent job of explaining how things work, but a modern tutorial system would have been welcome. Some of the game’s deeper systems such as construction, population and resource management took some time to figure out, and while these systems are arguably unnecessary to complete the game, it would have been nice to have better explanations of their use.
Next to something like FTL, Into the Stars feels a little unpolished, even if it is a lot nicer to look at. I honestly feel with a few refinements and additions, this game could be a classic in the genre but at the moment, it feels a little lacking. With that said, I did enjoy my time with Into the Stars. Exploration, resource, and technology gathering were a blast. I also had a lot of fun developing my crew and controlling the lumbering Ark 13 and I felt like I was playing out many of my science fiction fantasies. So for those that are looking for a good space-faring survival game to play, I would have no problem recommending it.
- Gameplay: Addictive and fun. Combat is weak and annoying at times.
- Graphics: Built using Unreal Engine 4, Into the Stars, with the exception of a few models here-and-there looks fantastic.
- Sound: Great score by Mass Effect Composer Jack Wall
- Presentation: User Interface needs some improvement, story and dialogue slides look great.
- Great graphics
- Addictive and fun gameplay
- Feels like you are playing a Battlestar Galactica game
- Amazing score composed by Jack Wall
- No tutorial
- User interface problems
- Weak and uninteresting combat