Starsector is a top down, real time strategy game set in space, where you control a small fleet of ships, and try and survive in a lawless galaxy (technically a sector of the galaxy, but still). Starsector focuses itself mainly on its inter-ship space combat and surprisingly competent RPG mechanics. Despite still being in an alpha state, Starsector has a large amount of gameplay available, putting you in an open world sector and letting you choose your destiny.
Right, the core part of any space combat RPG is, unsurprisingly, the combat. So, how does it stack up? Controlling various spaceships on a 2D plane, you can order your ships around using the tactics screen to designate targets and formations, then jump into the action on your flagship to personally lead the charge.
Actual combat is varied and interesting, with a wide variety of fighting styles and weaponry that can be put on your ship. Cannons, guns, missiles, torpedoes, lasers, all can be attached at different mounting spots and configured for different firing groups, or even auto firing, I find a few lasers auto firing is great for neutralising enemy torpedoes (I have a ship custom designed for flying into the midst of battle and shooting down as many enemy missiles as possible.)
Currently Starsector includes a single campaign, wherein you try and scrounge together credits and ships to survive in frontier systems. It also has many one off missions, pitting you against an enemy force to test your tactical skill and combat ability. The campaign sees your start out controlling a small fleet in a lawless sector of space, wherein you must build up your fleet, resist against crime syndicates, and survive, fighting against both enemy fleets and your dwindling tank of fuel at the same time.
Whilst in battle, there is a lot of screen junk, giving you information about your ship, weapons, ammo, maps and any currently targeted ships. With so many stats needed to pilot your ship (various damages, any buffs, status effects on any components) that it gets very hard to tell what’s happening, especially with tiny text and such a wealth of words. Outside of battles the user interface is very sleek, with a single bar of abilities at the bottom whilst flying through space.
Starsector has currently been in development for four years, and appears to have a lot of support behind it, which, while the game is already very heavily feature-full and packed with detail, means that hopefully there is a lot more to come. Currently slated for future release is the ability to claim and conquer worlds as to turn them into bases to further expand your power, even start up your own business with industrial applications. Also hopefully coming in the future is the ability for the players actions to affect the galaxy at large, this would open up a whole wealth of storytelling and narrative possibilities.
Starsector is a very engrossing and complex space tactical RPG, with lots to offer and an incredible amount of detail. It does have some difficulties: the complexity can get to you a bit and some of the user interface is packed and slightly unreadable. Nevertheless, Starsector is a deliciously thorough and detailed tactical RPG, and something that I will be looking out for updates in the future.
Starsector is currently available through the developer’s website, http://fractalsoftworks.com/