Traversing the limitless galaxy has always been a dream for many since childhood, perhaps it’s because of the fact that there’s something exotic about exploring the unknown. You’ve seen it portrayed in various films ranging from James Bond’s timeless classic Moonraker to even the emotional masterpiece of Armageddon, and recently we’ve seen this galactic exploration portrayed in gaming. What truly sparks curiosity from these developers is something to ponder about, but as said perhaps it has a lot to do with this notion that there’s something out there we don’t know exists, and it’s time to discover what it is. Starsector is one of those titles that encourages the player to go on a galactic journey either as a fearless bounty hunter and create factional conflicts, or engage in a more organized operation while dealing with the dangers of the sector. Fractal Softworks is currently working on the title and so everything within this article is subject to change as the game gets closer to full release. As such, please take this preview with a grain of salt and use it as a reference guide.
What to Expect
Starsector is a 2D indie sandbox sci-fi space RPG (that’s a lot to swallow) that places a lot of emphasis on tactical thinking, and coming up with a consistent game plan to ensure victory on all fronts. It’s not a title that you can simply jump right into and expect to blast enemies away in quick succession, it really requires a lot of time and patience to really get a grasp of all the mechanics along with how each ship functions in battle. Fortunately, there’s a very well organized tutorial guide to help get you through those rough moments, and will have you better prepared for what’s to come. As the game is still in its early beta stages there are of courses some holes that need to be filled up but for the most part, what’s in the package is well worth it and in no time you’ll be more than ready to take on the enemy with confidence. With plenty of depth to dive into and a pretty solid campaign mode to absorb you, Starsector is certainly worth the bucks if you’re a fan of space travel and sci-fi thrills.
As aforementioned in the previous paragraph, Starsector is a game that revolves around tactical thinking and a lot of planning before jumping into battle. There are three tutorials that explain the game pretty well starting with the basic and advanced forms of combat, then the third going into more detail about how to command your fleets in battle. We highly recommend doing these tutorials before jumping in because you’ll end up dying many deaths if you avoid doing so. Take our word for it, as we streamed the game live on Twitch and found ourselves lost in translation because everything was so deep and we thought jumping in doing trial and error would suffice. Sadly trial and error only works in the first few attempts before the game starts to really test your wits and things start to get a little more challenging. After going through the tutorials 2-3 times (we definitely suggest doing this if you’re new), we felt a lot more confident going into Mission Mode to take on various objectives that are administered to you by the commanding officer.
Mission Mode is almost like an extension of the Tutorial Mode because it starts you off with easy objectives that can help you to better understand how the mechanics work, such as knowing the button layout and understanding how to maneuver your ship around effectively. You have your standard WSAD controls for moving around, with various other hotkeys that are used to send other commands to your surrounding fleet. You use the mouse to pan around the screen to see all the action, while you can play/pause the action to come up with tactics on the fly. There’s really a lot to learn in the game and so even going into detail with Starsector would take a great deal of time to really explain, so we recommend playing it to really have a solid understanding. For now we’d like to focus on the more important points of the game because that’s perhaps where many of the rewards come into play. So like any objective you have rewards that come from them and as such, you’ll need to be able to decide which rewards are necessary for you on your galactic journey. Your ship’s weight plays a major role in the game along with the amount of crew members you have on board. Keeping eye on how many supplies you’ll need along with fuel is going to be something you’ll do a lot of, since it can greatly affect performance down the road if you aren’t careful. So even organizing supplies is a strategy within itself because every ship is different and knowing what to keep and how much of it to keep is paramount.
Each ship has its own strengths and weaknesses pertaining to battles with the more advanced ones such as the Phase ship requiring more effort from the player to truly understand, in order to fully maximize the ship’s potential. In the easy objectives you use the more standard ships which help you to get a grasp of how to strategize attack formations, capture supplies, and carefully eliminate the enemy before they get a chance to retaliate. All of this is easier said than done, of course, even within the easy mode, but don’t let that deter you because once you start to get a good feel for knowing when to engage, avoid, protect or eliminate, then things will fall into place. Medium to hard mode missions are where things start to really get more intimidating and so we suggest that after successfully completing the easy missions to go and play the Campaign Mode. We say this because the Campaign will allow you to test out what you’ve learned and apply it to various scenarios that you can always retry if you failed.
Another fun aspect about the Campaign Mode is that it incorporates an RPG element to it and so you’re able to go through a very in depth story and then start to allocate your skill points to better improve your main character. It’s slow paced which is nice and allows you to really think through your approach meticulously, and provides you with enough reassurance as you move further through the Campaign. Since this is an early beta title we assume there will be a ton more content added later on prior to Starsector’s official release, but the Campaign along with the challenging Mission Mode are enough to hold you down until then.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
While we’d love to dive deeper into the world of Starsector things would only get more complicated for you to understand, and we don’t want to create any confusion going forward. As we said before, Starsector is a game that rewards the player who spends a great deal of time with it, as opposed to looking up walkthroughs and such to help guide them. This is a journey not a race and Starsector really provides a lot of great content that keeps you coming back to discover more and more the longer you play. We will say that this game is certainly not for everyone, despite having the popular RPG elements implemented within its core gameplay. Not everyone will enjoy the very deep and methodical approach to playing and we’re totally ok with that, but for those that like putting in a great deal of hard work and seeing the fruits of their labour manifest then Starsector is certainly the right choice for you.
A very in depth and organized tutorial for new players but even a nice refresher for those who’ve played before.
A great deal of content to play through.
Challenging and very rewarding once you get the hang of everything.
Plenty of replay value and we assume with more content coming down the pipeline, this will only further increase that value.
Simple concept with simple visuals, but deep enough to really immerse you.
Everything depends on your actions which makes playing even more enthralling.
A lot of the technical terms may throw some people off.
As we said in the consensus, this game may not suit everyone’s tastes.
A steep learning curve.
Honey's Final Verdict:
If you want to check Starsector out live in action or at least watch the past vod of our stream, then be sure to head over to Twitch and give us a follow. Not only do we provide a great deal of commentary to go along with our performance, but we also provide a very honest and well constructed preview so that those tuning in can follow along a little bit easier. This goes for any game we play not just Starsector so be sure to check us out for more great titles! Also be sure to follow us on Twitter and Discord to know when we go live, but to also stay up to date on all the latest news pertaining to anime, manga and gaming!
As always, for all things sweet, with news straight from Japan, be sure to keep it locked here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!