Gamedev Interview: White Star Studio
Previous Gamedev Interview: David Stark
A TactiCon Special
Now for something special! Once again, TactiCon is back, from May 11th-May 15th. I want to thank Hooded Horse and Firesquid for hosting this event again — a celebration of strategy games. With talks, game announcements, and those lovely, delicious Steam Sales, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
I’m in the middle of a short review hiatus. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity, and to be blunt — I’m a little burnt out. However, when I learned about TactiCon, I wanted to cover it again. Just like my coverage of last year’s event, I got access to some cool titles. While I’ll be covering those games, I’m going to highlight some of my favourite games in the TactiCon sale too.
The Grand Sales
Vagrus — The Riven Realms announced their upcoming expansion Sunfire and Moonshadow. This incredible strategy RPG left Early Access in 2022, and it become one of my favourite games to explore.
With a vast open world, stunning lore, and a treasure trove of content, this is an easy recommendation. It made my Top 10 games list of 2021, and while this is a brutally difficult game, the world design and roleplaying aspects make this a must-have for strategy fans.
Door Kickers 2 has seen many updates over its Early Access development cycle. This top-down, tactical RPG offers plenty of customization and missions to complete, as well as a full map editor to make things your own. While I’m terrible at this game, it’s a delight exploring the non-linear missions, and experimenting with different unit load-outs and tactics to carry out the objectives. It’s messy and brutal, but with so much to enjoy, this is a tactical sandbox to make your own.
Against the Storm by Emnrite Games continues to blow me away. This roguelike city-builder hybrid has taken the world by storm since its Early Access launch on Steam last year and continues to see huge updates. They plan on keeping the game in Early Access for a while longer to keep polishing it — all good news in my eyes.
Seriously, this game is stunning. When I started playing it last year, I expected to enjoy it, but it blew my expectations away. For anyone who fancies a city-builder with a twist, Against the Storm might just be for you. I covered Against the Storm in this review down below:
I got access to some cool games for this event. Unfortunately, I ran into problems with the demo for Project Haven, so there will be no coverage from me for that game. I’ve had some problems with my computer lately, but I shall troubleshoot the issue and see if I can make it a future article. The first game I got to play was Airships: Conquer the Skies, a challenging and expansive sandbox developed by David Stark. That name might be familiar, as I had the honour of interviewing him, which you can read below:
Airships: Conquer the Skies is a non-linear, grand-strategy game that rewards creativity, with the power to develop your grand ships. Landships, buildings, and mighty airships, the world is the player’s oyster. The amount of customization in a building is frankly, terrifying and stunning in equal measure. There is a great tutorial to teach players the ropes, and while I’m still terrible at making ships, I return to the tutorials often to learn more.
The amount of content in Airships is impressive. An open-world grand strategy map dominates the show. Recent updates greatly improved this campaign mode, with diplomacy and supply lines to manage the player’s mission to conquer the world. There’s also the battles, a scenario editor, and mod support. Together, this makes for an awesome experience. This might just be a short impression, but they are fairly positive. Occasionally I ran into some framerate drops when starting the game up, and the interface could use some work, but these are minor nitpicks. David’s working on a DLC for Airships: Conquer the Skies, and I can’t wait to see how this game develops.
Colony Ship: A Post-Earth Role-Playing Game was the other game I played for the event. Now that’s a mouthful, so I’ll stick to calling it Colony Ship going forward! The minds behind this were fantasy RPGs Age of Decadence and Dungeon Rats. To those who haven’t played them, they are brutally difficult, immersive RPGs that take hardcore to the extreme. While Colony Ship is more linear than its predecessors, the developers have taken many lessons from their previous games, forming a more enjoyable experience overall.
I love this studio because they’re not afraid to take risks. These guys make incredibly challenging games with a ton of depth, and Colony Ship is no exception! In Early Access, there’s now a chunky demo to try out before buying.
That’s a great thing because this won’t be for everyone. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve died in Colony Ships. This game pulls no punches. You will perish, and sometimes there will just be scenarios you cannot escape from. Combat is not always the answer, and there are always ways to deal with a given situation. They remind me of an isometric Piranha Bytes style of game — back when Piranha Bytes still made good games. You know what I mean: great worldbuilding and choice of quest objectives. Unlike most of those games, the writing and characters in Colony Ship are solid.
I’m not too far into my Colony Ship playthrough. These games require a lot of brain power to solve. The classic RPG mechanics are in here — inventory management, turn-based combat, plenty of dialogue and characters to meet, and intelligent quest design. The space station setting is great. Loads of locations, brimming with atmosphere. You can almost smell the recyclers scrubbing the air while exploring this place. Not quite a top-down The Expanse simulator, but it’ll do in a pinch.
Imagine an open-ended RPG set in the Expanse universe… damn… wipes the drool off my laptop screen
Ahem. So that’s my thoughts on Colony Ship. There’s no excuse not to try the demo, that’s what they are for! Try it out, and see what you think!