Starbound Review - Landing Amongst the Stars
Let me start off by saying that I don't like Terraria and I've heard mixed things about No Man's Sky. Some might find Starbound to be a mix of gameplay from both games. Chucklefish Games has been working on Starbound for a couple of years, and it's been available for purchase and download for almost as long. However, we are now able to finally partake in the polished 1.0 version that has gained the interest of its fanbase.
I personally had an awkward start with this game. I bought and returned it on Steam two times before finally going back for the third and final time (because apparently 3 is a magic number) and sticking to it. There's a few things that kept making me come back for more, and I'll tell you why.
Wonderful World of Customization
Starbound has a lot of things going for it -- especially things that should be necessary for those who love to explore. There's a hefty character customization system that includes 7 unique races, from your everyday human to a rather gassy group of humanoids called Novakids. You're free to equip your character with the clothing of an average Joe or make yourself battle-ready with gear that'll prepare you for monster hunting and scavenging into the unknown depths of the universe.
While you're out hunting for junk cool things, you'll soon find that you can build your own special colony and even have tenants come to wander about your place when the right settings are met, not to mention you can customize your own spaceship. (Yes, you can own your own spaceship.) If for some reason you find that none of the customizations available suit your fancy, you'll be happy to know that Starbound has a large modding community.
Explorations of Planetary Proportions
Much like real life, we really don't know everything that lies beyond our Earth. We could have cotton candy filled planets and we'd never know. Starbound doesn't limit you to a handful of planets with a welcome brochure to each and every one of them. You'll find procedurally generated planets and creatures, which means that at times you're not going to know what you're going to get.
Planets can increase in threat level from harmless to hazardous biomes, and enemies can quickly go from cute and cuddly to ugly and terrifying. A weather system is placed on most planets and you get anything from relaxing rain droplets to hail to falling space debris and meteor showers. Take my advice, wear a helmet.
If you like exploring and discovering new places, you'd probably like this aspect the most out of everything else that Starbound has to offer. If you don't like traveling alone, you'll quickly find that you can travel with a friend through multiplayer or tame a wild monster to bring along as a fighting companion.
Not Your Average Hacking-and-Slashing
When it comes to combat, I'm a button masher kind of player.Unfortunately for people like me, Starbound doesn't play by those rules. Starbound has a heavy arsenal of weaponry ranging from hammers and swords to guns and bows with the addition of shields to protect you from incoming attacks.
You'll find yourself having to dodge enemy attacks because certain enemies have their own means of attacking. Some will be heavily armored and charge at you to attack, meaning that you better put your butt into gear and move out of the way. There's a casual mode where you'll only lose a bit of money upon death, then there's the survival mode where you lose items upon death and you have to eat to survive. Oh, there's also a hard mode where when you die Space Jesus doesn't bring you back.
So, what kept me coming back over and over again? For starters, the pixel graphics are beautiful in their own unique way and complete with extra detail. There's a great deal of crafting, combat, and exploring that'll keep you occupied for hours on end. Multiplayer allows you to play with friends or pummel other players into oblivion. The modding community has hundreds of mods that'll keep you entertained if nothing else will.
In the end it was the sheer amount of exploration that kept me coming back because I knew that I'd always find something different, even at the start of the game. I started one game on a pretty normal planet, but when I started another game I found myself on a planet full of freaking holes. Like with any game, it isn't without its flaws -- such as the seemingly flat story or the fact that I have to use my mouse to attack.
All in all, Starbound may have missed the moon, but at least it landed amongst the stars with a glorious galactic adventure.
You can purchase Starbound on Steam ($14.99) and The Humble Store ($14.99).