“I can’t see how anyone could have anything less than a great time playing Space Colony, and I would highly recommend it!”
Space Colony is a classic sci-fi strategy and simulation game from Firefly Studios – the creators of the awesome Stronghold strategy game series. Coming across as some kind of one-off Stronghold and Sims crossover in the cosmos, Space Colony challenges you to manage a crew of mismatched individuals with eccentric personalities as you attempt to build and manage a successful colonies upon strange and dangerous worlds. It is hilarious as it is challenging too, but what fans of the original game and new and interested players alike will want to know is this – can this new Steam Edition of the classic game do the original justice, and is it still worth playing in our modern gaming world?
I was one of the first group mentioned here; a fan of the original release of the game who wanted to see if it was still as enjoyable now as it was the first time around. However, given that it had been such a long time since I last played Space Colony, I started out with the tutorial in order to refresh my knowledge of the game and how it works. By way of a review within a review then before I jump into the bulk of what the game is about, the tutorial in itself is pretty good. It is clear, it’s not too long, it teaches you one point at a time so as not to throw too much at you at once and it is consistent with the rest of the game in its humour, style and storyline. The only downside to the tutorial then is that it doesn’t actually teach you everything. You are given a solid overview and you leave bearing all the basic concepts of the game, but some of the things which you have to do further down the line are left up to you to figure out. In some ways, it might have been better to have a series of tutorial levels then, or to have had the learning process integrated into the early parts of the game’s story mode. Still, this manages to be a better tutorial in its old-school style than many more modern teaching styles in games manage to be, despite how much we should by now have learned.
So when you actually get down to the game, there are several different things you have to pay attention to. One is the needs of your crew, which is where the aforementioned Sims link comes into play. Essentially, every member of your crew has basic needs, such as the need to eat, sleep, be entertained and have regular social interactions. They also each have unique personalities, which for some makes one need greater than their others. For example, one early character named Stig requires feeding more regularly that the others, and so you have to account for that. To begin with it is pretty easy to pay attention to three or four different crew members, but as you progress and start to head quickly towards double figures, the challenge grows significantly. Even so, the game rarely pushes you beyond sense and possibility, and it isn’t too difficult to learn to keep an eye on everyone once you nail the degradation rates of needs, who needs what the most and how long it has been since you checked on everyone. As a simulation element in a strategy game, this feature is integrated incredibly well, and gives this strategy title a unique element that really helps to make it stand out and keep things interesting.
As well as your people then you also have to pay attention to your base, which in this game encompasses a lot. In basic terms, you have to make sure that you have everything that your crew needs to survive and that you pay attention to the oxygen and power levels. Then, you have to think about resource gathering, deciding what you need, where to position buildings and equipment appropriately, and which and how many crew members you will train to do each job. Depending on your goal and the nature of the planet on which your colony is based, you may also need to think about defence. Most importantly, you will have to make sure that your base and your crew are appropriately protected from and prepared for alien attacks. In other cases, you might be running a colony on a safer planet, where your key focus is the much more peaceful tourism trade. In this case, you will have to make sure that you have everything that you need to draw people in and entertain them whilst they are there. Personally, I have always found the more peaceful option to be a bit lacking in this game, mainly because you just seem to spend a lot of time watching the money counter tick over. In terms of base building and the connected gameplay goes however, Space Colony makes all of this remarkably easy to get on with, but offers an equally great challenge in terms of alien attacks to match that ease. You are kept on your toes without being made to feel that the game is impossible to play, which is a great balance, and at the same time playing is pretty relaxed too. One might even call it a pleasure!
All of this is good, but has also always been, so what does the Steam Edition of the game offer that is new? For the most part, integration into Steam in all of the usual ways; trading cards, achievements, Steam Workshop and Steam Cloud support. That isn’t meant to belittle these features however, as they are all either fun, useful or open the game up to the community, and you can’t complain about any of that! There’s also a new mini-campaign and a rebalanced Easy Mode, both of which are very enjoyable to play, and perhaps most notably there has been a HD graphics upgrade, allowing for the game to be played at a higher resolution than the original. The not only makes it a lot easier than it used to be to see what is actually going on around the base, but it has also improved the look of the game as a whole, making it all the more enjoyable to play. I suppose you could say that as little as possible has been changed about the core game itself, but several improvements have been made to its overall functionality, and that is a good thing indeed.
So to revisit our original questions, Space Colony’s new Steam Edition certainly does justice to the original title, and is certainly still a game worth playing in amongst the plethora of modern titles available on Steam’s marketplace. It is a strategy game which still manages to be unique with its simulation-style features, and one which offers easy, chilled-out gameplay whilst providing a very valid challenge all the while. It is good fun with its quirky sense of humour and entertaining storyline, and maintains an old-school style which any gamer could easily enjoy. The only downsides are a tutorial which doesn’t quite tutor all of the things that you need to know, and some styles of play which are less entertaining than the bulk of the game is as a whole. Otherwise, I can’t see how anyone could have anything less than a great time playing Space Colony, and I would highly recommend it!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.