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!
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.
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.