Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Summer of Indie: Endless Space

Reviews and blog posts about Endless Space have been making the rounds over the last couple weeks since its release. I know a good bandwagon when I see it, so shove over, I'm climbing on! The folks at Amplitude were nice enough to give me a review copy in exchange for, well, some publicity. I've never properly reviewed a game which I was given so it feels a little weird. In fact, I never planned to review it. I was going to do a few posts about my game- a play through if you will. That, however, didn't work out.

What's cooler than a warrior-bird race? Alfred Hitchcock would love this.

As I said there are some in-depth, very informative reviews already out there and one of the blogs I read regularly is playing it as well. IGN's review mirrored what I felt about the game, and wanted to say so much so that I could just tell you to read that and we'd be done, but I'm not that lazy.....yet. I'm not going to do a full-on review, however, but I will do my part and promote this well-done indie game. It is deserving of attention, but ultimately not the right game for me.

This game looks great. It is extremely well-presented with a great UI. The developers mentioned they worked with someone to create an 'ergonomic' UI and it shows. Everything is accessible and easy to follow. Accessible is a good word for Endless Space. I don't have a lot of experience with the 4X Space Genre (limited mainly to Space Empires IV which I loved) but one of the criticisms of the genre as a whole is that once your empire is large and sprawling things can get bogged down. Endless Space has obviously made a choice for streamlining this experience and as you progress, things don't get bogged down.

Which is where the game lost me. It's a bit of a contradiction that I never finished Space Empires IV because it became too much for me only to now criticize Endless Space for making it easier. It's not really a criticism, but a game-design that ultimately fails to work for me. I love micro-managing and the lack of it leaves me feeling like there's little to do. Combat has also been streamlined to basically be a cut-scene where you choose your tactic (play your card) and each type (attack, defence, engineering, etc) can be 'trumped' by your opponent. It's like a game of rock-paper-scissors but not one that can sway the battle if you are outnumbered. Whoever has the best fleet (represented by a score) seems to win.

I played roughly half-way through a single game (they last 300 turns) and had to leave off for a while only to find I didn't feel compelled to go back. As the reviewer from IGN also said, I didn't feel connected with my Galactic Civilization. In Sid Meir's Civ Series I always felt connected to my civilization. I knew my neighbors and liked the rivalries that developed. All of this is likely because I am/was an archaeologist and as a result know a lot about the development of human civilization. Space, in general, feels empty and soul-less to me so I have to rely heavily on the strategy/ship design/combat aspects of these type of games to pull me in. I just don't feel that pull with Endless Space.

If you like space games I would highly recommend you check out some of the more in-depth reviews and/or check out some You Tube videos on it. It isn't my cup of tea, but that doesn't mean you won't like it.


  1. If Endless Space is like Anno 2070 in the stars, I would give it a fair shake.

    Thing is, my funds are gonna be used elsewhere... I wonder if they'll push the price down later on.

  2. That sure seems to mirror my experience. I played, I enjoyed, and then.... I just didn't play anymore. I'm so far underwhelmed for my $30.

  3. @Victor- I played the previous Anno and no, it's nothing like it at all. There is not a lot of trade, and in fact, you don't actually harvest resources. You simply have access to them, and that allows you to build whatever is needed. For example, to build a bigger ship I needed to have a certain ore. Once I had a planet with it, that was it. I could build as many ships as I wanted. Fleets cost money (dust) only to maintain. This was part of my problem with the game: no resource management.

    @mrrx- It does seem very easy to walk away from :(

    1. How'd you get a review copy by the way?

      Any ideas if Legends of Pegasus might be good? http://store.steampowered.com/app/205590/?snr=1_234_234__104

    2. I've no idea about Legends, sorry. As for the review copy I saw their press release and it stated 'for review copies please contact...' and so I did :)

  4. hey, nice review. Check out my review on my blog