Review | Space Colony: Steam Edition

Space Colony, well, do I really need to explain this? Space Colony is a game where you make a colony in, get this, space *GASP* It’s also set in some corny, 90’s themed, disco space program.

A 2017 remake of a 2003 game, Space Colony has you run space bases on a variety of extraterrestrial planets. Sent by a ‘Blackwater corporation’ your task is to maintain and expand these space bases whilst caring for your colonist’s needs Sims style. Each planet has several missions to teach you about the game and lead you forward: First off, you may be building some bunks and a place to eat, next mission may be setting up some industry and other amenities.

Your base as it starts off, small, desolate and with some very bright lighting

Building up your colony is fairly standard, click on one of the several tabs on the right of the screen to open the submenu, click on the object, drag it onto the screen then scroll to rotate it if needed. As with every isometric building game, it gets slightly difficult to line up objects, and I do wish there was the option to at least toggle on a grid on the ground to help make everything look nice and neat in my extraterrestrial colony.

The main reason to get into space is of course SCIENCE, but sadly in Space Colony, and even sadder in real life, the main impetus for space exploration is money, money, money. Therefore, you are sent to areas with lots of natural resources to go, and dig up, and refine, and sell back to home base to go, and make more consumerism. Mining and refining machines can be placed down near mineral deposits and when crewed by a colonist, will dig up ore, smelt it, and send it to a warehouse zone via the weird little drone things that buzz around the base.

My base after a few hours, all cramped and inefficient 🙁

All of your colonists are stereotypical and extremely simplified, the western dude, the nerd, the fashionable lady, the death metal fan and so on. This characterisation is actually really cute, it works well to make everyone easily identifiable and charming. It also makes it easier to identify who I just want to protect and make sure they have a nice time. Each character has their own style, such as what their dunna looks like on the bed, or how they dance on the disco floor. (I told you it was disco themed.)

Like games such as The Sims, all your little colonists have a whole bunch of needs, and wishes, and the like. While you sometimes need to tell your colonists to go take a shower —or actually eat— they will mostly look after themselves if the utilities are there for them to use. More of an issue is their social skills, in that, like my teenage self, they cannot schedule social engagements without outside help. What this basically means is that, if any colonists start getting antsy with each other you have to swoop in and tell them to talk to each other and play nice.

As well as ordering your people to socialise (the horror!) you also can provide your colonists with tasks to complete, each colonist is capable of remembering two jobs, a primary and secondary. This job could be running a space chicken factory-farm, keeping the base supplied with oxygen and energy, or running the repair station which sends out a cute little drone to go repair your base. Jobs are completed by colonists whenever they feel like, though sometimes they appear to just ignore their work and chill out. Due to only working when all their other needs are filled bases need a lot of amenities so you don’t end up with your primary energy collector stuck in line for the toilet.

Space Colony is very much a product of its time, and nowhere is that more noticeable than in its graphics. Portrayed in the good old sprite format, Space Colony sadly has a very common problem of its time, the bloody impossibility in working out where something actually is in 3D space because of its 2D sprite model. Regardless, the old timey graphics are slightly endearing, and they are well done for what it’s worth.

Space Colony has several more quirks, remnants of the time in which it was created. Some of these are relatively big annoyances, such as the lack of keyboard control, and the jankiness of the mouse movement. Others are much smaller, such as the general menu movement and the strange placement of the resume button, at the bottom of the pause menu.

Burn Baby Burn!

Space Colony, overall, is a fair game. It’s a competent, yet undeniably aged, base builder held back by its age. If you played it in the past, or have some nostalgia for games of the genre, then this re-release would be a good choice for you. Otherwise, it’s a mediocre game compared to the modern genre entries, even with the charm and humour that Space Colony is full of.

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