TheIndieJar: Starbound Preview

Look, it’s not Terraria, OK? Yes it looks a lot like Terraria, it feels like Terraria, it plays like Terraria and so on, but its not Terraria. We got that? Good! Let’s begin.

Starbound is a lot like Terraria. This early access Steam title has grown fond in the hearts of indie gamers and YouTubers a mere two weeks into its release. If there is one thing you can say about a game that is very close to an already successful game, it’s that you can jump right in and know what to do.

starbound 2In this case you can choose from a number of races and random options to explore the procedurally generated worlds below. Yes, worlds. Starbound has the potential to be absolutely huge. Your main aim of the game is crafting and surviving in this retro style 2D crafter/platformer that looks like the inside of Hunter S. Thompson’s head – very trippy environments, completely alien, all with their own quirks and monstrous horrors. You craft to survive and find fuel to power your spaceship so you can explore everything. It’s a bit like Spore in that sense, only hopefully without the need for a future add-on pack to make that game mode even remotely interesting.

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The closeness to Terraria does make the game feel quite repetitive by association. You yet again have to start a game with nothing and construct your way through painfully slow tools to then build things up for yourself. And an annoying quirk of the beta release is that updates to the game may delete the characters you’ve been playing with. You’ll also have to get used to a slightly different set of controls and after a while, remembering that it isn’t Terraria will eventually be pointless.

It does have some positives over its comparison sibling. Animations are better on some things (cutting down trees that actually fall down is very satisfying), the multi platform availability is a big bonus and, in the beta stage at least, constant updates will keep the game a bit more alive. Compared to Terraria’s long awaited but rather large patch, a consistent release of new material could help the fans to stay. There is one thing that these games and genre have really excelled at. Soundtracks. Starbound’s is a beautiful mix of compositions that accentuate how lonely and alien the game world is, and if anything the atmosphere that it creates helps separate it from the more childish one that Terraria provides. You can even listen to these on their website and I highly recommend that you do.

starbound 1

I want to play more and need to play more. There’s so much potential and possibility, especially with its almost infinite procedural generation, that you could really get lost in it. It is certainly worth getting and enjoying, even at the beta stage, but it is a game that you would probably only like if you were really in to the craft/platform idea and weren’t bored of it already. For any real longevity I’d feel that you’d have to be quite a hardcore gamer. But as far as introductions go, it’s incredibly smooth, incredibly easy, quite funny and very, very playable. All in all, it’s a very promising start for the beta but it does need something to just give it a bit more of its own identity.

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