This action-adventure platformer throws you into a procedurally generated galaxy where you can make your mark.
- Multiplayer allows you to team up with your friends to explore new worlds
- Procedurally generated planets create a unique experience for each player
- Challenging exploration and combat in a colorful sci-fi environment
- Wide open gameplay lets players focus on the tasks that interest them
- Number of customization options is staggering
- Steady and addictive gameplay loops encourage continued play
- The first few hours can be slow and tedious
- The vast amount of content may be intimidating to players looking for a more directed experience
- Repeating biomes and enemies show the limitations of the procedurally generated structure
Exploration survival games have become an increasingly popular gaming genre, and Starbound builds on the formula created by other companies to create something that's both familiar and unique. Like Minecraft, there's a seemingly endless selection of items and equipment to craft from the world around you, but Starbound layers this formula with more structured objectives, making it an ideal choice for players who are intrigued by the open ended gameplay other games in the genre offer but are left at a loss for what to do with these endless builders. On its surface, Starbound looks like any number of platformers from the 16-bit gaming era. Its world and characters are bright, colorful, and basically rendered. The narrative is simple. You're a would-be colonist sent out to chart a new course in the stars following the destruction of Earth, but your ship is damaged and requires extensive TLC to venture out further. The early hours of the game consist of you teleporting down to planets to find the materials you need for repairs. While Starbound weaves a number of story-driven missions throughout the journey, these are merely supplements to an exceedingly complicated and intertwined combination of gameplay systems. Crafting is the heart of the game here, and it's an addictive loop that constantly urges you to keep playing in the hopes of discovering something new. While Starbound eases you into the gameplay by tasking you with repairing your ship, there are an exhausting number of crafting options here. Upgrades to your ship allow you to store more materials and move deeper into the solar system, while deep construction trees allow you to develop the weapons and armor that allow you to venture deeper into the wild planets that populate the galaxy. Equipment includes new modes of transportation that let you navigate the environment more effectively. The further you get into the game, the deeper these layers become. Players can terraform planets, create de facto settlements, and then charge the NPCs that wander the environment for rent. What starts as a simple mission to find a new home becomes a quest for customization. Whether you're looking to find new clothing for your character or create a home away from home on a forgotten ice planet, there's always a wealth of new options waiting for you just over the next bend. All of this is tied together with a fun is not terribly complicated platforming and combat component that resembles games like Metroid and Castlevania. This sense of wonder is further expanded by the procedurally generated structure of the game. Every planet in your star system is built by the game's algorithms, meaning no one player's experience is going to be the same. These aren't completely random, as they rely on a biome structure that codes each prospective world to a relegated set of rules.