I’ve always been a fan of Firefly studio’s. The Stronghold series is one that I have some great memories of, and I’ve always enjoyed playing. But this isn’t Stronghold. Space Colony is something quite different. The idea is simple, build a base. That might seem similar, but the difference is that the people who you employ have needs. They need showers, beds, medical facilities, all of the things that a person needs to be able to live and work. But what makes this game so good is that each person is different. They each have their own sets of skills, and their own personalities. One character, for instance, is a hippie. She will refuse to work on anything that kills animals or plants. Another one, Stig, likes to mine for iron and other similar materials. Another example of how they are different is this: while they all need fun stuff to do, they have differences in how they do it. For instance, a good idea to refill their fun meter is to put down a dance floor. And every single character will have different music that they play, and will dance differently.
It’s very Sims, with every character having bars showing how much they need a shower, or to sleep, or to eat or anything like that. But they each have different priorities. Stig, for instance, thinks that eating is the most important thing, so that bar will fill and empty much quicker than others, and have a bigger effect on his overall mood. Others might be more social, needing conversation more than anything else.
It’s these kinds of little touches that help make this game. While it can get quite difficult to balance the needs of 7 or 8 entirely different characters with your need to have them work and produce stuff, the game is quite good about gradually scaling the difficulty. There’s never a point where one level is wildly more difficult than the one before it. It’s all about scaling the challenge, and Space Colony does a very good job of this.
One exception to this is diseases. It’s very important to make sure you have at least one medical facility, otherwise you’ll end up in deep, deep trouble. Diseases come in a variety of different types, but my least favourite has to be “rodent disease”. There’s one level in particular where this becomes a major issue, and the game doesn’t explain how to cope with it. There’s literally a one line dialogue section, and if for some reason you miss that, then you might as well just restart the level.
However, by and large, Space Colony is a very good game, with some really interesting ideas. There’s tons of choices available to you in terms of buildable objects, all of which have different uses. The main menu is great too. There are 4 major playable variety’s of game.There’s the campaign, which eventually branches off into “peaceful” missions focused on building and getting certain resources, as well as the “military” missions which are focused on defending your base from aliens. There’s also Galaxy mode, which lets you select a planet and gives you a set group of tasks to accomplish there before moving to the next planet. Then, there’s sandbox mode, which is exactly what you might think, as well as the option to play user-created maps.
After all, games like this are all about choice. And that’s what Space Colony does brilliantly. There’s so much choice, but it never threatens to overwhelm, it’s all very controlled, and with so much choice, there’s no limit to how often you can replay this game, and how differently you can do things.
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