Stellar Tactics is an exciting, in-devopment space RPG that starts you out on one of only a few large ships that are transporting the last of humanity. Each ship, including your own, carries about a quarter of a million people. Unlike most of the rest of hibernating humans, you and your three teammates are awake and tasked to, basically, save Humanity. A few individuals are awake and roaming the ship as well though. However, most of them have been infected with the near-world-ending disease of the Phage. The Phage has turned them into, as much as I dislike the term, zombies. [No need to worry, they are only around long enough to teach you how to die—I mean, learn how to play].
While I will continually have to be extremely careful to not spoil anything, once you deal with the complexities and problems on your initial ship, the action moves to an entirely different place for your squad-based, multiple-area combat. Hint: it is very much like a dungeon crawler. Yes, in a space game. Yes, the way it has been done, it fits into the lore and narrative absolutely perfectly.
By look and feel, comparisons will naturally be made to the original first two Fallouts as well as Jagged Alliance. This is an old-school, party-based, leveling-up, weapon-swapping RPG – just like the good ole days. What Stellar Tactics is going to accomplish though, will dwarf those three games in scope and scale. All of the old, cool, established components are there as well: needing initiative for combat; specific combat order; kneeling and standing; limited action points; use of cover; weapon experience gained through usage; both single and group movement abilities; etc. Especially interesting is the fact that you (and your enemies) can fine tune your aim to specific body parts. It is certainly an odd feeling playing a brand new, rather early in development game – while feeling nostalgic at the same time.
Your enemies change drastically depending upon your current environment. This makes each new place you and your team find themselves within feel fresh and exciting. Additionally, even though Stellar Tactics is officially listed as “pre-alpha”, it plays more like an early Beta. I only experienced one freeze and one crash the entire time I played it (which was, needless to say, a lot!). Besides that, the developer is constantly adding more events and encounters. Currently, there are a multitude of hours of tension (err – I really mean happiness!) to enjoy.
Although initially heavily narrative-driven, as you progress you will find yourself in open-world, freedom-of-choice outer space. While currently, this is somewhat limited, Maverick Games (whom I believe is a one-man operation even!) is constantly working on adding to, and improving, the final frontier. Right now, he is working tirelessly to add the space combat. (this alone excites me to no end). Once this is installed, it will greatly alter the significance of being out in space. While I am certainly looking forward to that, there is currently more than plenty to do with the various predicaments that you will find yourself in.
Stellar Tactics is already extremely fun and intriguing. He (the developer) has listed somewhere that the current playtime is about 150 hours. However, I will be the first to admit that I play tactical games especially carefully, slowly, and methodically (which has saved my space pork on numerous [way more than I could possibly count] occasions already). So, for me, that time estimate could easily be more than doubled. Plus, whether you have ever read anything of mine or not, the absolute best part of this game in space? Procedural generation. Ah, my favorite: random generation. When that is present in any game and done correctly, as it is in Stellar Tactics, it simply ramps up both the likability and replayability considerably.
Stellar Tactics is straightforward to get into, with all of the inventory parts, crew member features and stats, weapons, and controls all being easily accessible and logical. What you will need to look out for though are things that may be lurking around the corner. Or through a door. Or just in a random hallway. Or at any other, non-specific, unsuspecting place, whether indoors or out. There are tons of perks and abilities that will delight even the most casual player. For hardcore min/maxers out there: good luck with doing that – as you just can not cover everything with a limited crew! I could easily go on further about some of the (spoilery) intricacies, but right now I have to go explore a new place because, when coming out of that last area, whew! I am lucky to be alive enough to even be able to tell the tale of that adventure.
Developer: Maverick Games
Publisher: Maverick Games
Previewed using pre-alpha ver: 0.104