Friday, July 22, 2016

Starbound - Initial Thoughts

About the Game (From the Steam Store Page)

You’ve fled your home, only to find yourself lost in space with a damaged ship. Your only option is to beam down to the planet below and gather the resources you need to repair your ship and set off to explore the vast, infinite universe…

In Starbound, you create your own story - there’s no wrong way to play! You may choose to save the universe from the forces that destroyed your home, uncovering greater galactic mysteries in the process, or you may wish to forego a heroic journey entirely in favor of colonizing uncharted planets.

Settle down and farm the land, become an intergalactic landlord, hop from planet to planet collecting rare creatures, or delve into dangerous dungeons and lay claim to extraordinary treasures.

Discover ancient temples and modern metropolises, trees with eyes and mischievous penguins. Make use of hundreds of materials and over two thousand objects to build a sleepy secluded cabin in the woods, a medieval castle, or an underwater arcade.

Previous Playtime

 23 hours

What Was I Thinking When I Bought This

Looking back at my purchase history, I'm a bit stunned about this game. I'd forgotten when and why I bought it and it turns out that it's one of my earliest purchases . . . and at full price, no less. I am drawing a blank as to why that was, but if I were to venture a guess I'd say that even at 15$ it wasn't expensive and what I perceived to be the pitch ("Terraria in space") was plenty compelling.  This was before my first big Steam sale, so I can only assume that my habit of compulsive bargain hunting had not yet entered the digital realm.

Expectations and Prior Experience

About two and a half hours ago I beat Terraria's "Wall of Flesh," unlocking hard mode and opening up another potential 20+ hours of gameplay. I mention it now only because if you'd asked me a week ago, my impression of both Terraria and Starbound would have been roughly the same - you are a helpless goober who wanders around cute 2D environments digging through dirt for valuable minerals while fending off endless waves of monsters. But the last few days have taught me that I was seriously underestimating Terraria. Sitting down to play the game marathon-style, I learned that it was both more expansive and more distinctive than I ever gave it credit for.

Now it's Starbound's turn. Don't get me wrong, if it is still the game I remember from my previous times playing it - one that relies heavily on player-driven exploration and the strength of its central digging, hoarding, and building mechanics - I'm still going to effortlessly breeze through it, but Terraria raised my expectations. With version 1.0 finally available, I'm hoping for something inspired and unique. I can't say what (the mercenary and colony systems sound interesting), but I'm not simply going to take it for granted that it's a sci-fi reskin of another popular game.

Call it bad timing, if you will, but unlike a week ago, Starbound now has to do something extraordinary in order to impress me. Fingers crossed that it's up to the task.

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