Exogate Initiative is a real-time strategy game that combines the control system of Dungeon Keeper with the room placement elements of Theme Hospital. You take on the role of a corporation tasked with exploring distant planets using a space portal a-la Stargate, this time called an Exogate. Your team must collect rare and exotic specimens for research, with the goal of using the research to write patents which will generate money for the titular Exogate Initiative.
In Exogate Initiative, you start with a small research station and a team of scientists. You must explore new planets using a stargate-like device and collect specimens to study. Room placement comes into play as you must both construct and manage different types of rooms to ensure the success of their missions. It’s not just mission-focused rooms too — if your staff get hungry, they will refuse to work! The rooms and corridors are carved out of the surrounding bedrock by selecting areas to dig, and your robots will dutifully dig them out and place rooms and furniture. This will provide space and facilities for your scientists, soldiers, medics and other staff to perform their planet hopping research activities, and hopefully bring you back some interesting research to produce your patents!
To planet hop, you must “chain” the planets together using ever-increasing amounts of electricity which must be generated by your base. Each new planet will produce a mission, which depending on the configuration of the team of three you send, will have some text-based choices to make. The outcome of the missions is affected by the members of the team, with some options being greyed out if you don’t have a particular crew member. Combative style options will be unavailable if you do not have a soldier on the team, for example.
Using the research tree, which is a little basic at time of writing, you can unlock new rooms which allow you to hire different kinds of operatives. The workshop will bring engineers who can pick up alien ores, while a medic will (hopefully) keep your team alive. Eventually your teams may run across aggressive alien species which follow you back home, leading to a simple defence of your complex. It looks like this is planned to be fleshed out in future updates. I am looking forward to this, as defending the dungeon was one of the most fun aspects of the Dungeon Keeper series.
What sets this apart from other Dungeon Keeper-esque titles for me, is the theme. Having grown up watching Stargate, this felt like what was missing during the time. I found myself quickly getting attached to my staff, keeping them well and levelling them up to become more successful. It became a wrench to find that one of my decisions got my top scientist zapped and evaporated by a solar flare. I found myself not wishing to reload a save because I was engaged with the game and felt my decisions as the leader should stand! An Iron Man single save mode would really benefit the game!
Exogate Initiative is a unique and engaging real-time strategy game that combines the control system of Dungeon Keeper with the room placement elements of Theme Hospital and gives it a theme that I, along with many others I am sure, real pulling power. With a focus on strategy, resource management, and team management, Exogate Initiative offers a gameplay experience that is both interesting and compelling, making it a must-play game for fans of strategy and 2000s-era science fiction!
Exogate Initiative is available now on PC via Steam.