Astroneer Review - Lost Among the Stars
- 2018-12-30 14:30
Available: Steam's Early Access (Xbox One, PC)
Release Date: February 6, 2019
Sooner or later the humanity will leave its "cradle" - Earth that is - to conquer harsh worlds, lost among the stars, quasars and nebulas. Astroneer - the space survival simulator based on this idea - will provide you with hours of fun called "struggle-for-life". Almost all alone. On a faraway planet.
Graphics - 4.5/5
To say the least, Astroneer's graphics & sound are an odd mixture. Odd, but meditative. That's right: there's such a nice vibe of lonerism/isolation about its calm, but colorful graphics and ambient-styled music.
For example, the skies in Astroneer are stellar, thanks to both unique visual design and the countless stars, brightly shining whenever the alien sun hides behind the horizon line.
The out-of-this-world vibe becomes only stronger when your little spacesuited avatar slightly bounces off the ground on the soon-to-be-conquered planet. If anyone ever wanted to know what it feels like to stroll on a planet with the gravity force lower than that on Earth - Astroneer game will give you a quick insight.
Flashy, vibrant, sunny at day and deep, mysterious, infinite at night - that's what the explorable worlds look like. And especially nice is the landing effect - it feels so dizzy to observe your transport-pod landing on the planet's surface, smoothly falling through the orbit and clouds.
Sadly, along with its colorfulness comes the feeling that Astroneer perhaps is a bit immature and childish. At times the alien worlds look like decorations sculpted from playdough and colored with markers. Such a design sort of sabotages the central concept of the game: surviving at all costs in the harsh and quite unfriendly world, light years away from home.
Gameplay - 4.5/5
In the distant future - the 25th Age of Exploration, some sorta megacorporation Exo Dynamics gives a chance to every earthling to begin a new life on a planet in a far, far away galaxy. Or maybe just a Solar system.
That's when you learn how deceptive the first impression can be: cute-looking planets will do everything they can to have you strangled. Laterally. Keeping the oxygen levels sustained and making sure you won't run out of it during another loot raid is your #1 priority.
For that purpose you can:
Rush back to your base in panic.
Use Astroneer's transport - rovers and shuttles fueled with hydrazine. They are needed for both covering long distances and refilling oxygen.
Build a system of oxygen-tethers.
Now the tethers are literally a "cable" or "thread" of life for you. They perform almost the same function as torches in Minecraft.
Another serious concern to take care of - the energy supply. Everything requires energy in Astroneer: extending your base, crafting devices, mining resources etc. And you can count on:
Renewable energy sources - wind strength, sunlight.
Coal power plant - coal isn't that easy to obtain, alas.
At least you won't have to worry about stuffing your body with snacks/liquid, since anstroneers somehow suffer from no hunger or thirst.
Your main activities in Astroneer will include:
Drilling craters with the terraforming tool.
Scouting for resources.
Investigating the spacecraft crash sites - they always have rare stuff/artifacts.
Developing your base.
Exploring caves guarded by poison-spewing plants.
Oh, and don't forget that alien planet weather is quite whimsical and cruel too. The storms are absolutely merciless: they reduce visibility to 0 and make the trash/rocks/space debris swirl around you in a chaotic death dance. Should one of the storms catch unprepared, the best things to do are: a) get in a rover b) dug a hole in the ground and hide in it like a sneaky, chubby marmot.
Replay Value - 3.5/5
Astroneer, along with Raft and Subnautica is one of the top intriguing survival simulators by now. But it seriously lacks a couple of elements.
First, there are no alien encounters at the moment. Of course, we have the hostile plants that spit some gassy neurotoxins, but it's not enough. Encountering alien life forms, even in the primitive state would be a delicious treat for all the space adventure fans.
Second, the absence of the combat system makes Astroneer dimmer. The authors certainly miss out on a great opportunity to make the plot/gameplay more logically finished. Besides multiplayer, although limited to one server shared with friends, could have a combat system to bring an element of the healthy, murderous competition fun.
Our Astroneer Xbox one review highlighted the details of the game still in early access. That means there will be more stuff added to the game later. And even with all the content/features it lacks now, Astroneer is quite enchanting.
The worlds you will explore are beautiful. And the shortage of oxygen/energy and hazardous climate will keep you on your toes, even if the gameplay is mostly architected around mining/crafting/building things.
It won't let you get bored. By any means.
Mesmerizing alien landscapes.
Survival is a challenge.
Soothing ambient music.
No combat system.
No spacecraft flights.
Astroneer may look cute. But it sure knows how to make your forehead moisty with cold-cold sweat from panicking...