STAFF REVIEW of Spacebase Startopia (Xbox One)

Wednesday, April 7, 2021.
by Heather Webster

Spacebase Startopia Box art Hello Meat sacks! Welcome to my review of Starbase Startopia from developers Realmforge, best known as the creators of Dungeons 3. This game is a base building management simulator where you are the 'Command-R' of an old abandoned space station, guided by the Dynamic narrator AI “VAL” who does not really tell you any information of what you need to do, only criticizes your actions and tells you when an event is taking place on your space station.

It all began with telgorians giving a flower offering that was taken as a sign of war. Only all the other races did not have the tech needed in order to win, so there was a meeting of the different species to come to a mutual agreement for happiness. You become the commander of an abandoned space station because you are the only humanoid with enough brain capacity to take control of the station. It appears that the station was abandoned because of too many alien enemies trying to take over the space station. Your job is to maintain the decks and expand into further ones as you make life sustainable on the ship.

Your job is to take command of a Starbase for all races to have access to basic needs like food showers, medical, energy, fun, and nature. Within the levels you encounter different scenarios that you must navigate through to complete each level. Throughout each level you get asked about different service upgrades that might improve the ability of each. Examples such as the recycling station that will give you the option of possibly a 50% increase of recycling and the results that it might have on your visitors, or 100% increase in productivity but it might make your spacebase messier due to leaky Telgrade visitors.

VAL is your narrator and guide throughout the game, and she is never too far to explain what the scenario is before you start and react to the choices you make, often with sarcastic witty insults because to her you are just a carbon-based life form with basic brain capacity. The AI 'VAL' does her best to guide you through the levels, but not without throwing a bit of salt in wounds quite humorously when you have made an interesting decision. With the update that went out in the second week of March there are now 3 voice options for “VAL”: GARWIN, ROBOT, or VAL. My Favorite is GARWIN because it sounds like a robot on autotune!

Your first scenario is all about one thing; earning energy through recycling. That is just a collection of garbage that space creatures leave all over the Spacebase and recycling that into the very energy you need to run your space station.

It can be challenging to become accustomed to the controls as multiple buttons and combinations are needed to open each menu, as there are a few different menus to become familiar with in order to keep operations running smoothly. However, once familiar with the menus and controls, Spacebase Startopia opens up and the real fun begins. Your mission is to create an enjoyable away station for your visitors. This includes a berth, a place where your visitors can get some food, a medical center where the sick can be healed and even a disco and an arcade. Hire visiting aliens to operate your various machines and essential services around your station. Sometimes if you are not paying attention because you are too busy cleaning, your employees will quit and you will need to hire new ones, much like other similar games.

When you start a campaign there are 3 separate options for difficulty; Cadet, Commander and Admiral, each of which has a different set of start point difficulty ranging from starting with all necessities already in place and active versus needing to fund and source all things from the beginning. As you go along in the scenarios and stages within the game, the difficulty grows as well. Before the recent update I found myself struggling to figure out how to use all the options and learn the game with little given explanations. Since the latest update though I have noticed that now, if you linger on almost anything in the game, an info bubble will appear explaining what it is. This is a big improvement from the Game Preview version because it now helps gain further understanding of what you are building and why. I also now have a better grasp of the controls after doing the new tutorials and playing Spacebase Startopia. I discovered the Research center is where you must unlock the services that you need and want on your space station. To complete research you need to have a set amount of energy and another resource, though this could use a little more explanation in a tutorial as well.

When I logged on to try the multiplayer modes, which is only available to online players, while in Game Preview with my friend we got very frustrated after one mission in each mode, due to the overall lack of given information and explanation of button usage and build descriptions. These little things seem to have been addressed now. Gameplay has gotten smoother and is more understandable as to what the mission and goals are. My friend was no longer trying to jump ship because all his guest were super angry. We managed to get a good plan going where one of us would place and or build required services while the other harvested on the bio deck or cleaned up garbage around the space station.

The game can be purchased for $69.99 and there is also a free trial so you can find out if you might be interested in purchasing the full game. If you purchased Spacebase Startopia while in Game Preview there was an exclusive offer of some bonus content like skins and extra alien races, like a pre-order bonus. The soundtrack is fun and helps get you into the game and the graphics are bright and colorful but the motion of the camera and the angles that you get could cause motion sickness so to be aware of that when considering a purchase.

Overall, I have really started to enjoy Spacebase Startopia because of the humorous comments from VAL about your various upgrade choices and chosen actions within each mission. I can wholly recommend Spacebase Startopia to anyone who likes simulation builder games with a good sense of humor through insults because VAL has quite the opinions about you and your decisions.

**Spacebase Startopia was reviewed on an Xbox One S**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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