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To The Moon (And a Million Other Celestial Bodies): Starbound Preview

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I am not that good at Starbound, but my god has it got its claws into me.

Starbound is a new indie game from studio Chucklefish. It’s a PROCEDURAL SPACE SANDBOX which means it’s instantly found its way into my pants, but will it worm its way into yours, reader? (Since you’re probably way less shallow than I and don’t get instantly turned on by the words ‘PROCEDURAL SPACE SANDBOX’)

Starbound starts you off as a character who has just escaped from some war torn hell hole they called their home planet. There are 6 playable races (a seventh will be added in an update) – an ape race, a bird race, humans, robots, some flower people and an aquatic race. All naturally have different base stats and different stories to play through and discover. I’m playing an Avian(the bird race) named Amaranti, and she’s on a quest to disprove the existence of a god. See, while Starbound may look like a significantly more polished Terraria In Space – which, considering the lead designer did the art for Terraria, is not surprising, Starbound has a huge focus on story. The writing in Starbound was largely created by Ashton Raze (whose most recent work was the critically acclaimed Richard And Alice) and it’s a hell of a demonstration of funny, witty and interesting games writing.

But how does it play?” I hear you ask? Well, like Terraria, but with more space and better balance and generally more fun. Terraria was dull and unguided and forced you to spend the first few hours of play hiding inside your house at night because everything was 20 times as built as you. Starbound gets around this by plonking you on a ‘level 1′ planet at the start, with a sword, a few torches and some food to start you off. You can defend yourself from the word go, which means you don’t have to worry about wasting half your time in the game doing nothing. There’s much mining and crafting and exploration, but unlike Minecraft and Terraria, the world feels alive. Have a look at some screenshots I took of cool stuff I found!

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A campsite! I didn’t even build this. It’s right in front of a huge cave system that’s actually already been explored by some inhabitants of the planet!

 

 

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I found some skulls on sticks. Terrifying!

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A shrine to a creature with a spear. There was noone around near this house.

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The house of a nice flower lady. Apparently she;s a cannibal, according to lore, but she was quite welcoming to me. I even slept in her bed! (It has been independently confirmed to me that cross-species breeding is NOT in the game. Yet.)

And that’s all in the very first planet! I took a trip to the nearest planet, a horrible world of dangerous monsters and ice. See, Starbound has a bunch of systems that you need to keep in check to make sure your character doesn’t die horribly (although right now, there doesn’t seem to be a penalty for death). There’s the temperature system, so at night, your character will get cold and has to keep themselves warm around a campfire or a bunch of torches. Your character also needs food, similar to Minecraft.

 

Your ship has an FTL drive, so travel between planets is quick.

Your ship has an FTL drive, so travel between planets is quick.

Once you get there, you'll probably discover the planet you're visiting is terribly hostile. Like this freezing ice world, that kills you if you stay there too long.

Once you get there, you’ll probably discover the planet you’re visiting is terribly hostile. Like this freezing ice world, that kills you if you stay there too long.

If you’ve read any of my recent writing, you’ll know I love a good living world. Really aids the feeling of exploration. Starbound has that in spades, which is why I’m continuing to play it despite being fairly terrible at fighting weird alien things. There’s tons of stuff to discover, including crafting blueprints that lead to weapons, vehicles, mechs, the works. There’s the aforementioned storylines to experience, Cities and worlds to build (apparently, you can even automate it from your ship – there’s a ‘3D printer’ on it that I haven’t figured out how to work yet. There’s musical instruments that you can use to play all sorts of fun songs. Starbound has tons and tons of content, and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet.

It’s available now at the official website, or on Steam. I recommend you buy it from their site, though – firstly because they get a greater percentage of the cash, and secondly because it’s cheaper if you live outside of the US. For around £10, Starbound is absolutely worth a go.

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1 Comment

  • I’m officially sold on this game!

    I actually like that the game has a sense of direction and purpose. I’m getting it next year though. Too many games to play and I want to clear my backlog a little bit at the moment.

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