What is Starbound?
If you’ve been on Steam for the last few days or so, you’d have no doubt encountered this little gem of a game. Starbound is an indie game that has recently left beta and is out in the market as a full game. It’s been in public beta since 2013 and now it’s finally out of that little purgatory. It’s listed as one of the most popular indie games on Steam ever since its full release on July 22, 2016. And, personally, I can see why. It’s an amazing game.
So what is Starbound? It’s a 2D side scroller, adventure/survival game developed by Chucklefish with a lot of building and crafting elements. So why do I think that it’s a good game? Well let’s look at three aspects of the game: gameplay, setting, and soundtrack.
Starbound has a gameplay that one can liken to games like Minecraft or Terraria with its building and crafting elements. Or even games like Rust or DayZ with its survival elements. Like Minecraft, one can gather materials from the environment to build houses and craft armor and weapons, albeit in a 2D environment. One must also mind their hunger meter, looking for food along the way or stocking up supplies of food before going out to explore.
What sets Starbound apart is that travelling to different planets is a big part of the gameplay. Different planets offer different materials, environments, animals/monsters, quests/sidequests, etc. One can also build houses and structures on different planets and form colonies by moving people in, sort of similar to Terraria. And aside from the sandbox, exploring and building, you also have quests. From the main quest which progresses the story to sidequests that take you around the massive world Starbound offers, there’s no shortage of things to do here.
The fighting mechanics are overall pretty similar to most sidescroller games. The weapons you can craft offer great variety to suit the playstyle of your preference. Each weapon has unique special attacks, attack speed, status effects, elemental properties, range, etc. The enemies offer great variety as well, each having different attack patterns and different defense mechanisms.
The bosses, while I personally have only fought two, also present some variety. For the most part, fighting bosses isn’t just a hack and slash deal as you also have to take advantage of the environment.
Speaking of fighting, the game offers three difficulty levels: Casual, Survival, and Hardcore. In Casual, you don’t need to watch your hunger and you only lose 10% of your pixels, the in-game currency, upon death. In Survival, you lose most of your items, barring tools and weapons, upon death, ala Diablo, and 30% of your pixels on death. In Hardcore mode death means perma death. Gud luck, m8.
And not to mention you can multiplayer and party with friends and have fun exploring, building, fighting, and all-around shenanigans-ing.
The setting is impressive as it is very expansive and is such a joy to explore. So as said previously, travelling to different planets is a big part of the gameplay. Initially, you’ll be limited to one planet but after fixing your ship, you’ll be able explore the whole solar system you’re stationed in. Repairing your FTL drives will grant you access to other solar systems in the galaxy.
Take note that exploring a planet is already a huge task as you have to take into account not only exploring the surface, but also the massive underground area. It will take a long time before you see everything. I, for one, have played probably 12 or so hours of this game and still haven’t explored most of the first solar system. For a game with a relatively small file size, that’s amazing.
This game will be a gold mine for explorer type gamers who like to wander around and see what the game has for you to discover. So if you’ve clocked a few hundred hours doing sidequests in Skyrim or Fallout 4, you’d probably wanna try this out.
Starbound’s soundtrack is well-made and sounds like it would belong in a game made by a big company. It’s not too repetitive and not too in-your-face. It fits well in the background as you explore, or build your little colonies and houses.
It’s hard to describe how it contributes to your gaming experience; you don’t notice it too much in the background, but it’s very well made that it does catch your ear from time to time. I have no other way of describing it other than it’s very well integrated with all the other aspects of the game.
Go play it!
All-in-all it’s a very well made game, especially for an indie title. There are other things not mentioned here like the story or the character customization as I tried to focus on what really stood out to me.
It’s not without it’s faults, though. The item interface could use some improvement since it feels clunky. For instance, you need to put a book on the toolbar and use it to be able to read it. There needs to be the option to do that from the inventory from the get-go. But I’m sure it will only get better as it gets updated through time.
I highly recommend it and you should go check it out yourself. It’s on Steam for P420 (ayy) so pick it up if you got 500 bucks to spare. And hopefully we’ll see you around, among the stars.