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Into the Stars preview: Call it Space Oregon Trail, call it FTL, call it Ishmael

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 4, 2015
When I look at Into the Stars, I picture the stereotypical Hollywood producer, hands held up in front of the face like an invisible camera lens pointed at an imaginary marquis: "Imagine FTL," says the producer, eyes glinting, "but you fly the ship."

Ah, Early Access. My old friend and/or bitter enemy. Into the Stars hit Early Access fairly recently and...well, it's really early. Visually, the game looks surprisingly good for an early development title--especially the planets/space scenes. It might be a bit tragic when you run out of fuel and the crew slowly starves to death, but at least they picked a gorgeous place to die.

Into the Stars has its own long, Oregon Trail-esque journey ahead of it before it's ready for consumption though. The random events that crop up during your travels are largely inconsequential at the moment--more of an annoyance than a real challenge. Mining takes up too much of the game, and while it includes a nifty little minigame, it's not really what I want to spend 50 percent of my time doing. Interface elements are overly cumbersome or ill-explained. The map is only represented in two dimensions, even though you can fly in three.

And worst of all: The ship flies too damn slow. I understand that the journey's supposed to feel epic, that we're supposed to feel like we've embarked on this incredible journey to save the last of humanity (or whatever the plot is, here). At the moment though, it's a bit like driving an old (and boat-like) luxury car through wet concrete. Give me Warp 5, at least.

Bottom line

I expect Into the Stars will eventually shake off its Early Access chrysalis to reveal some sort of space butterfly--an FTL for people who like the idea of FTL but without its board game elements. And that sounds awesome!

But give this one a bit to mature before you don your captain's suit and shave your head Picard-bald. At the moment it's, as expected, more of a playable prototype than a full-on game--although it's an admittedly pretty prototype.


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