Satellite Reign is a currently in early access and is the spiritual successor to one of my favourite childhood games Syndicate Wars, and even now I feel myself thinking “What am I meant to be doing?” Developed by 5 Lives Studios, Satellite Reign puts you in control of 4 characters in a squad and gives you free control to do whatever you want in a city, kill civilians, rob a bank or do some quests, it’s up to you.
There isn’t much in the way of story right now for this game but the overarching background and current situation is that the world’s governments are controlled by mega-corporations and society is structured for the benefit of those in power. A heavy focus on a Rich-Run world with poor people living in the heavy boot of the law and powerful. You form a squad of people who aim to change the status quo by any means necessary and generally disrupt the world, through bribing, stealing, hacking, killing and augmenting.
The end goal is all down to you though, with the choice of killing everyone you see, using sabotage or outright guns blazing. Freeing the masses from the corporate stranglehold is a choice just as taking control for yourself is.
The current build of the game has quite a lot to offer, from plentiful quests to a large playing area to move around in and interact with. I easily spent around 6-8 hours doing the quests and everything in-between.
The whole game is situated in the bird’s eye view camera where you can oversee a large section of the city along with all of your characters and the NPCs that walk around you. You move an agent by selecting them then clicking somewhere on the map, with options to attack, interact or simply move, double clicking making them sprint.
There is no one way to do something in Satellite, allowing you free reign over what you do, sending in a single unit to stealth and infiltrate, moving all your team through backdoors, creating a distraction somewhere, or going through the front door in full auto. There are sections to allow for each playstyles and each one offer a different advantage to them. Experience is mostly gained from killing enemies, so if you want to level up quickly going in guns blazing could be your best option.
Besides the quests you can explore a large portion of the city’s first district and also a secondary one, killing people, finding hidden nodes or siphoning all the Cash Points for constant money intake. All the while choosing different mission along the way, completing them, and researching new tech and abilities for your squad.
As you explore the world and complete quests, along with all the bodies you rack up, you will gain experience points for all your squad and after enough they will gain skill points, which can be used to increase their skills and abilities. At the beginning you will merely unlock the skills but with added points you will improve their effectiveness, from the stealth skill of the sniper going on for longer to the health of squad mates getting higher.
Overall Thoughts and Feelings
When I was younger I had one problem with Syndicate wars, I didn’t know what the point was or the main goal of the game, and I think Satellite Reign suffers from this as well. You are merely thrown into the game, given a short tutorial on how to play, then given this wide world to explore and do whatever you want. Think of Oblivion with the king or Skyrim without the Dragon war going on and that is the feeling you get with Satellite Reign, an open world full of side quests and things to mess around with but no real end goal. This can appeal to a lot of people however, as many of my friends and even myself played Oblivion through with all the side content and never did the story for our first playthroughs.
The themes and music in Satellite Reign fit together nicely, like a puzzle, if that puzzle had explosions and bullets, and placing the pieces meant you had to enter the room through the ceiling. You really feel like a group of “miscreants” against the world and The Man. From random police patrols that you need to work around to full on guard details you have to sneak around to enter large complexes. I loved being able to be all sneaky in an area without the backlash of being spotted, I could just pull out my weapons and bring in my squad for backup or hit the stealth button to make a quick getaway.
Satellite Reign has a bright future ahead of it and I feel they can only improve on what they currently have, adding more regions, more quests and possibly some more customisation of characters. Being Early Access, and I mean very early, Satellite suffers from several optimisation problems and bugs that will make you unable to play due to laughter, one recurring bug is when characters fly into the air when they aim, getting the best angle possible I would think. Beyond the going above and beyond the call of duty bugs the overall game plays nicely, and glitches are only every other hour or so and don’t deter much from the overall experience.