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However, the conflict on display in the current build, while engaging in its own right, leaves me worried about where a story like this could go. Sure, sorting out some rival factions and helping them decide how to run the ship is neat and all, but compare that to The Age of Decadence where you can start as a no-name apprentice and end up having a chat with ancient aliens through a stargate before fighting some godlike creatures. Or you can just be a thief and do thief things.
In contrast, the colony ship setting doesn’t leave a lot of room for crazy developments like that. Plus, I don’t think the game has such wildly different playthroughs in mind for different characters. Your main points of divergence are the people you support and the factions they represent. And while that too can provide plenty of replayability, I wouldn’t mind having some specialized quests, like a grand heist for a stealthy character, or some crazy plan for an engineer to boost the performance of the ship's engines.
And as if to taunt us, even before it starts, the game teases some interesting developments waiting for us on the other end of the trip. But right from the get-go, we know that our characters won't live to see them. On the other hand, when judged on its own merits and not a sample of things to come, the early access content is pretty solid. And hopefully, Iron Tower has a stash of rabbits they plan to pull on us somewhere down the line.
On the technical side of things, the early access build is fairly stable, but there’s a decent chance you’ll encounter some minor bugs and issues here and there.
The game’s UI is intuitive and doesn’t look too shabby, but it’s too small, especially when it comes to text, and you can’t resize it.
Partly due to that, clicking tends to be a bit too precise. As a result, trying to reposition your characters before a battle can become mighty annoying. And during exploration, cycling through characters doesn’t snap your camera to them, but instead swaps the characters themselves. And that can really get on your nerves when you’re trying to get your party through some tight spot.
Speaking of which. The game has a fixed camera angle, but its level design, while detailed and a joy to look at, can be quite disorienting. Navigating the ship’s tight walkways and multiple levels of elevation can be quite a challenge. You do get used to it, but initially, there’s a good chance you’ll be running into walls for a while.
And while we’re discussing navigation, Colony Ship is all about convenience. You can generally get wherever you need to go using only your map and a couple of clicks. And while this is quite handy, right now the maps are incomplete, which seems to me like an invitation to do some exploring.
At the same time, the only way to move between the ship’s levels is by using the map, which I found a bit counterintuitive. In fact, I didn’t even think of using the map for this purpose before exhausting all the content within the starting level.
I really wouldn’t mind it if the developers put a big elevator somewhere just for those of us who want to traverse the ship in a more natural fashion.
As for the audio, the music is great and fits the game very well, but the miscellaneous audio effects are beyond weak. Hopefully, they’re just placeholders.
Other things to mention here is that right now the game doesn’t have autosaves, but those are already being worked on.
Colony Ship combines the best parts of The Age of Decadence and Dungeon Rats and puts them in a neat new setting. And while it still has a long way to go, the seeds of greatness are already there.
If you liked Iron Tower’s earlier projects, you should definitely get Colony Ship. But even if you didn’t, you might still enjoy Colony Ship as it’s more player-friendly, less stingy with its content, and can boast a more intuitive skill system.
And seeing how the studio has a proven track record and the current early access price is as low as it will ever get, potential future discounts aside, there's no reason not to get Colony Ship right now even if you’re only interested in playing the full version.
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