Starmancer is a new space construction and management simulation game from Ominux Games and Chucklefish. If you’ve ever wondered what Stardew Valley in space might be like, then this could be the game for you. It’s coming out in early access on 5th August 2021, and I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the game, so today I am going to go through my initial impressions and gameplay too.
In Starmancer you play as a Starmancer Core, this is the human-AI hybrid that controls the ship. The game is pretty much a sandbox where you can do whatever you want, however, your primary objective is to preserve the Starmancer Station. There’s plenty to do including creating and managing humans, research, crafting, trading, and taking care of the inhabitants of the station. You can also venture out into the cosmos through various missions like mining for resources. It’s a living, breathing world where you can bring everything to life and then take your own course.
There’s been a tragedy on Earth and it’s forced all humanity into the stars. You are not alone in the Solar system either, with plenty of other factions to trade with, there are distant worlds to discover and explore in this procedurally generated universe as well as enemies to prevent from taking over the Starmancer.
The Starmancer is yours to customize fully. At the start, there’s only a couple of rooms, as well as an outside area where you can launch research missions. You can build extra rooms, equipment, paint the walls and add furnishings for your humans. If you have a happy and motivated workforce, it’s going to be much easier to survive the brutal nature of space. It’s entirely down to you what type of station you design. For example, you can create a fully functioning mining colony and put your crew to work, or you could create a resort so they can relax in peace. If you leave the humans alone, they will simply sleep on the floor, but you can decide to create luxury living quarters too.
As you grow your Colony, your crew is going to need the basics to survive. This includes bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and farms to produce food. You can also create hangars so ships can be sent out on trading missions, which is useful to create cash to invest back into the growth of the Starmancer.
When you first start in the game you’ll design your core, wake up and run through various tutorials to get to grips with the systems and gameplay loops. First off you are alone, but this isn’t too much of an issue as you can create humans with a variety of personality traits. Some like to build, research, even carry things around, whereas your created humans also have things they dislike too.
It’s all about finding and creating the right personality types that gel together well with a good mix of skills to find the perfect balance on the Starmancer. Our little humans need looking after too as you have to take into account how tired they are and their mood. They will need regular Oxygen, food, comfort items like beds and storage, and you can decide whether to give them a day off or not.
There’s a real depth to the colonists. They have feelings and get upset if something nasty happens to one of them. If you are not careful then they will rebel and it could even go as far as trying to destroy you… so it’s best to try your best to keep them as happy as possible.
Colonists talk to each other as well, which can affect morale. If one has had a bad day, then they will talk to others and that bad feeling can spread throughout the Starmancer. You have to take this into account if you have different classes of Colonists on board over time, as the upper class may not like mingling with the lower classes. They develop relationships over time with others onboard and get jealous when good things happen to their enemies and sad if something happens to one of their friends.
As well as personality traits, Colonists have unique inventories that fill up with items they like to collect. It could be a simple book or watch, but you have to be careful as not all collectibles are safe, they could start gathering cigarettes, drugs, and shivs.
Starmancer is a fully dynamic universe that is randomly generated each time you play through the game. There are different planets, moons, asteroids, and other space stations too. There’s plenty of resources to be harvested and collected on your travels. As well as managing the space station, there are relationships to be managed external to the Starmancer too in the forms of other factions. If you need to improve a relationship then you can feed their people, perform missions for them or sabotage enemy ships. Or you can choose to ignore all this and go on your merry way.
There’s also combat in the game too, which comes in the form of invading pirates. They look for vulnerable ships, that have weak defenses so don’t scrimp when it comes to developing the Starmancer. It’s a good idea to train up your workforce at the gun range to make sure they are ready for an attack if one comes, otherwise, the Starmancer is going to be ripe for the pickings. As well as your human defense force, as the Core, you can create winding corridors filled with traps like radiation zones, freezing corridors, and boiling hot zones to ward off any attackers. If you do suffer from an attack, try and have a doctor on stand by and they can help treat the wounded with gun-shot wounds and broken limbs.
Starmancer is a huge game wrapped up in a really nice package. I love the art style, it’s classic 16-bit style pixel art and the audio work including the music and sound effects are atmospheric. There’s a real depth to the game including everything from building a space station, managing your colony of humans, managing resources, and also trying not to get invaded by Pirates. I’m very early in the game at the moment, but I’ve been having fun with my little colony so far. At first, I felt really sorry for my first guy as he started sleeping on the floor, so I built a nice bedroom (probably a little too big). After growing a few more humans to carry out other tasks like research and mining, I realized I’d sunk all my resources into building them their luxury room.
This is a game with big potential. If you like games like Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon, and to a certain extent Animal Crossing, but you always wanted something a little more sci-fi and space-focused then this could be the game for you. It’s going to be released on August 5th, 2021 in Early-Access on Steam, and I recommend you checking it out and adding it to your wishlist today.
Developer: Ominux Games
Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux
Release Date: 5th August 2021 (Early Access)