Devouring Stars is another title released by Nerial, the games studio that created Reigns the charming little game that put you as the king, published by BulkyPix. The game is a space RTS with the focus being on constellations of stars rather than the traditional spacecraft. Devouring Stars is something of a slow burner to start with, it’s honestly unlike any other RTS that I’ve played.
You’re eased into the mechanics slowly, introduced to four basic unit types. Fire, Water, Earth and Air all with the same statistics in term of speed and gathering time. Each level has clouds of stars gathered around and as units move through them, they gather to use when fighting. Combat is basically a simple version of top trumps, when you collide with an enemy unit they both start expending their stars until one reaches zero and explodes.
Players can start merging the basic units into other units which begins introducing units with special abilities. There is a total fifteen combinations of the advanced units with the abilities ranging from, taking control of enemies, drawing stars closer to your units, freezing enemies and many more. The enemies you come across will have access to the same units as you do, but you can split your units to change them at any point you desire.
Devouring Stars offers a range of different scenarios, you progress through a set amount of levels to fight a tribe leader. The main objective is to find a portal to allow all your units to escape and depending on the scenario could have you holding off against unfavourable odds, trying to sneak by two factions fighting or fighting an enemy of their portal. Some of my best experiences of this game is when I have to sacrifice a unit so others can escape or having to make a mad dash to the portal.
There is an odd use of progression through the game, once you defeat the leader all of your units that survived can be taken into the next set of levels. So normally at the start you only have the basic four units to choose from, but after successful runs you can just start with your stronger units. On the flip side however, if you lose any of the scenarios all progress on that level is lost and you get given a new level. It felt a little frustrating at first but in turn it makes you value your advanced units that much more, once you have a powerful squad there is something of an attachment there.
The story of Devouring Stars seems to be focused around you being a weak tribe, the levels are all about gaining strength and defeating the four other tribes. Plus the game promises multiple secrets from additional play-throughs, which the game calls cycles. It took me roughly two hours to complete the game once, so there is definitely some longevity to the game. All the scenarios are generated, so while they may have the same objective they play out differently.
Some of the generations do lead to scenarios that are incredibly easy to complete, where by just rushing to the portal before the enemy can gather any stars. Devouring Stars does handle scaling difficulty rather well, in those later levels when you do have a death ball of the most advances units because the star count is reset, you do have to protect them while they store up the stars.
I was impressed with all the visuals of the game, the minimalistic UI and the particle effects of the battle were oddly soothing. I would also like to draw attention to the unit design in particular, the way the game represents each unit with a simple symbol and surrounding stars while keeping each easily identifiable is nothing short of incredible design. Despite the game being all about fighting, the theme of stars and celestial entities allows aspects of the game to feel soothing. It’s also accompanied by a solid piano score, all working together incredibly well.
In summery then, Devouring Stars is a title that quickly grew on me as I progressed through it. I managed to brush off my RTS rust and fully immerse myself into this refreshing take on the genre. I will admit that Devouring Stars isn’t going to be the most advanced or mechanically deep RTS you would ever play, but simply for what it does it does it incredibly well. The game has an overall high level of polish and I would easily recommend anyone picking it up.
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