Habitat is a bizarre experience. On face value it’s a physics sandbox, limited in depth by its horizontal locking. However a few more minutes of time exposes you to quite a strange yet unavoidable experience. Habitat manages to spin a new shirt out of the RTS cotton and have created a definitely unique experience.
So in typical fashion, Habitat has you in a world where Earth is doomed. The only path to survival is to build a safe habitat for humanity in space. Despite the fact people would usually consider this urgent enough for a blank check, apparently you work for a skinflint corporation and are limited to whatever junk floats around you, which varies from burger joints to Sherman tanks. This is a game which you’ll probably love, but not for very long.
The gameplay is tiered rather nicely. The base gameplay is simply welding trash to your space station. Each trash piece does a certain thing, with tanks being the base weapon piece, and rockets to move around in the 2D solar system. Over time this gameplay will evolve when you increase the station size, repositioning modules to balance the space station properly so as to not impede your movement. The tutorials do a nice job of stepping you through these mechanics. Despite this you will work these mechanics in at your own pace and gameplay will slowly get more technical as you grasp each part.
Habitat has a large collection of typical RTS elements as well to give you familiar territory. Resources are typically collected or generated, with money, power and fuel being the main three. This again adds a tactical element to building your station. While you can send peons off to harvest coal it’s more productive to attach solar panels to your station and sit near a sun.
This is definitely a unique experience in the RTS world. I come from bigger strategy games such as CIV V and EU IV and this is a far different playing field. The focus on one station means that constant improvements and adjustments occur to maximise the station’s potential making a nice change from empire-sized gameplay of other RTS games. The visual and aural experience is also a joy. I was nervously expecting store-assets from other game experiences but every model is made for the game, and is backed up by a soundtrack by Alexander Brandon (who some may remember from Deus Ex.)
However, get about an hour into the game and you’ve pretty much played everything and here we have the problem of Habitat. It’s a brilliant game however after an hour or so you’ll have used all of the mechanics. The biggest thing that Habitat could have to extend this is multiplayer gameplay yet this is sorely lacking, and being the 1.0 release there is a possibility that this will not happen at all and it could be such an amazing feature. But it’s a short feeling experience with a high price tag.
There is no argument Habitat is a unique experience. The game is a pretty and fun reimagining of an RTS game. Visually and aurally the game is a joy, and I enjoyed my experience without doubt. But the fact you’ll wear through everything within an hour and the lack of multiplayer (which specifically I cannot penalise it for) makes this game just feel short for the price tag. For what there is, this game is a solid 8/10. Better than average, and a good reimagining of the RTS genre.