ELEX Review: A Lil' Bit like Marmite
Previous Review: Total War Three Kingdoms DLC: The Mandate of Heaven
Terrible Lion King pun aside (I’ve been rewatching it, yes. The original Disney, not the remake) It’s time to bring you guys another hands on review, from this lunatic who plays far too many games for his own good!
Today, I bring you my experience with Satisfactory, an indie giant from Swedish developer Coffee Stain who brought the ultimate meme game Goat Simulator back in 2014. Boy, this has had an interesting history, and I’m still not sure what to think on it. Back in 2019 during the height of the Epic Store controversy regarding exclusivity, Satisfactory was one of these: Epic exclusivity for one year, with a release to other platforms after the year is up.
There have been hundreds, if not thousands of takes on this, and I’m not going to add too much to it. Personally, while I prefer open launches throughout, I don’t blame a smaller dev for taking these deals. That money can mean security, and in a time like this that’s important. At the same time, I appreciate and understand the frustration consumers get from not getting it on their preferred platform, especially when exclusivity wasn’t a major thing on the PC until the Epic Store came along, though seperate launchers like EA’s Origin and Ubisoft’s Uplay are still a thing. Even so, I don’t mind waiting (shrugs). I have enough games to play, anyway.
So, Coffee Stain got a bit of flack for taking these exclusivity deals, and their response to it was fair, albeit teasing in a provoking way. To all the idiots who threatened to pirate their game just because it wasn’t on Steam at launch, they responded with:
“If you want to you can be a criminal and steal the works from 30 people who spent 3 years of their lives dedicated to making Satisfactory all because you didn’t get your preferred launcher. Or be an adult and just move on and play something else. Your choice.“
A reasonable response, although I’m always fascinated how devs do PR sometimes, and it’s a murky quagmire. While it wasn’t quite as bad as other cases, it’s an easy way to rile up potential customers, who have a lot of emotion when dealing with the Epic Store. Even after the exclusivity period was over, they did take their time releasing the game to Steam, again using their quirky means of communication to ‘tease’ a release date.
But finally it did come out on 8th June, 2020, to critical acclaim. Hundreds of thousands of sales, and 96% overall positive reviews. Like the methods or not, it’s proof that this is a real success story. From my hands on experience with the game so far, it feels like it deserves the acclaim, though it’ll take a while before I have a concrete opinion on it. For now, expect this to be more of an ‘experience’ rather than a full review. So far? It was well worth the wait.
Onto the game itself, Satisfactory is similar to Factorio on first person mode. With impressive visuals that remind me a lot like Subnauctica (another incredible success story from an indie dev in early access), Satisfactory punches above its weight from the get go. My jaw dropped a bit when I booted the game up for the first time. I was expecting muddier graphics, and it looks really nice. The optimization could be improved, but overall it runs very well and shouldn’t be an issue for decent systems. Just like Factorio, you build factories…a lot of them. While Satisfactory has quite the steep learning curve, I’m quite impressed with how much it eases you into it. There’s four major biome worlds to explore and get lost in, with one that functions very much like a tutorial. The voice acting of the AI helper bot is well done, the UI is quite intuitive without being too complex, and you’ve got a bit of breathing room. The open world is vast with a great emphasis on vertically. While the open world is big, there isn’t as much room to expand as you might think, at least if you’re thinking horizontal. There’s a lot to build in this game, and some areas are massive, so you might want to build up, rather than along.
It really helps that resources are infinite, because trying to micromanage resources can be a problem in other games. Constantly running out of materials to craft and having to run about the map like a headless chicken can be frustrating, but there’s few issues like that in Satisfactory. There’s quite a lot of enjoyment to be had in exploring, as these worlds aren’t procedural, like many similar games, but hand crafted, and it’s a very pretty world to boot. I have memories of Ark: Survival Evolved when exploring, without all the problems that plague Ark.
Having a dedicated tutorial island is essential, because without it I would have been lost. A lot of similar games expect you to blindly run around like a chicken, or give you a smack on the bum, say “good luck” and walk away cackling like a supervillain. With its nice UI and helpful hints, you shouldn’t be too overwhelmed when playing this game, especially at the beginning. I’ve only done the tutorial and just about to start in the more gritty aspects of the game, but I’ve been pleasantly challenged so far and I’m looking forward to playing more.
Like all awesome sandbox games, this game also has mod support, and quite a lot of it as well. While the mod support is unofficial and not officially supported, it feels robust. I’ve only tried a few mods so far, but there’s a ton to choose from. I’d like to see official support down the line with Steam Workshop integration, but it just adds even more game time to what is already becoming an addictive game. Apparently, it is coming, so watch this space!
As for flaws, I can’t really find many. There’s some glitches here and there, and I’d like to see less pop-in with far distance objects. There’s also quite a lot of bugs with multiplayer. While playable, it is the weakest part of the game so far. Provided these get fixed in later updates, with the typical content patches to advance the game-state, I find myself being quite happy with Satisfactory. It’s available for $30 on the Epic Store and Steam, which is quite a reasonable price tag for the sheer amount of hours you can get in the game, comparable with stuff like Rimworld, Factorio and Kenshi. I can’t say it’s perfect, but its a dependable game with a lot to offer.
[review_summary reader_ratings=”true” positives=”Beautiful sandbox game with a lot of content
Well-written tutorial that does a good job of bringing you in
Endless options for customization and replayability
Potential to lose thousands of hours of your life” negatives=”Some issues with optimization
Could do with better multiplayer”]
Perhaps in the future, I can provide a full review, but maybe my words on it so far will give you something to think about.