Developer: Weird and Wry
Publisher: Weird and Wry
Release Date: March 30th, 2015
Platforms: PC, Mac, STEAM
A copy of the game was provided by Weird and Wry for the purposes of this review
Ever had that inexplicable urge to roam the galaxy like a wave of destruction? Ever feel guilty about all the endless death and carnage and wish you actually built something from all the ruins? Well then have I got the game for you.
Hailing itself as the first game to “take place in the 58th century” Weird and Wry’s flagship title The Spatials tasks players with managing a space base on the far corner of the galaxy to turn it from a derelict and dead rock into a thriving tourist attraction. Players are also tasked with roaming nearby systems laying waste to wild territory in exchange for resources and technology to further their space theme park. Think of it as basically Star Trek crossed with SimMall.
Set in a two-dimensional isometric setting, gameplay is split into two categories of base building and roaming combat. A quick text tutorial guides players into building a simple space base that provides the essential amenities along with light manufacturing facilities. The higher up the tech tree players climb the more varied and advanced facilities they will manufacture. Base structures are split into these two separate categories of manufacture and service. As visitors come to your station they spend money on the products you manufacture, which in turn you spend to advance research and create more products, which they then purchase and the cycle endlessly continues.
The raw materials for all of these products come from the nearby planets within the galaxy you plunder. Traveling to a planet brings the player into a mini instance, which typically involves guiding a squad of your station’s finest around a small zone and zapping the crap out of anything that isn’t you. Dead baddies drop money, experience, as well as raw materials to use in the construction of commercial products. After a planet’s mission is complete you’re granted a money and supply award, as well as the option to invest in the planet to passively gain those resources after a set number of minutes. Assigning diplomats to nearby embassies lowers the time it takes to gather these resources and beating the mission on a higher difficulty multiplies the amount of resources gathered.
Assisting you in your endless pursuit of wealth is a basic crew each with their own specialization; Strategist, Engineer, Diplomat, Scientist, and Doctor. As you complete more objectives your staff levels up, providing bonuses to things such as health or build speed, but at the same time the higher level an officer is the more needs and cravings they have. Basic officers only need sleep, but as they level up they require or crave specific foods, drinks, hygiene needs, and entertainment. Fail to satisfy these needs and officers get sick, lowering their productivity or get angry enough to leave the station. Visitors to your station have similar needs which left either satisfied or unsatisfied affect your station rating, either slowing or speeding up how often travelers come to your little neck of the galaxy.
It’s equal opportunity employment planet-side as all classes zap the crap out of native creatures equally, but each class has a unique skill assisting in planetary conquest. These skills do things such as lobbing grenades, long-range shots, summoning combat drones, healing party members, and recharging the weapons of teammates. Killing enemies and completing missions drop gear used to upgrade the abilities and stats of each party member, or to change their unique abilities altogether. Players also have the option of sending squads on missions alone, taking them out of your control for a certain period of time returning either in victory with some kind of spoils and XP, or crawling back in failure with no spoils and a little XP.
And that pretty much makes up the base gameplay of The Spatials, building a dope space station for space tourists to come and blow all their space money on, with you roaming space and killing space creatures for space resources to build more dope space gear for your space station to generate more space money.
That’s all good and space but is it any good?
Something that I noticed playing the game is that The Spatials’ appeal will be highly variable on a person-to-person basis. The biggest complaint that can be said about the game is that it’s unbelievably easy. There are no passive costs to running your space station and the flow of natural resources to provide basic needs is easy to kickstart and completed early on resulting in a very quick self-sustaining space station. The only real punishment to having pissed off tourists is a lower station rating which only results in less frequent trips from visitors. Visitors still eventually come and blow their credits on whatever you have and leave pissed. There aren’t expenses other than building new objects so you can just close down your docks and wait until you have enough of a supply cache to feed the horde of tourists. Open the dock up for the frenzy, and then close it again when your supplies run low. Having your docks closed or having no tourists visit your station at all has no effect on your station rating whatsoever.
But quite honestly I kind of liked the simple aspect of the game. While many gamers who enjoy their city builders full of challenge and errors that end with their creations going down in economic flames, I just wanted to build a sweet space station. I believe many gamers would call the The Spatials boring, but I personally felt rather cozy while playing it. It was a relaxing experience that allowed me to unwind after a long day, a really nice change of pace from the ultra stressful and competitive games I usually play. It felt so cathartic to have an Esports stream on my second monitor that I could half pay attention to while I calmly pieced together my space Chuck-E-Cheese for all my space friends to hang out at.
While the combat and planets to explore are a little too “samey” at times there are loads of planets and zones to explore and conquer. Gamers who like to explore every nook and cranny of an environment will have a lot to chew on, as at about the 6 hour mark of the game I had only explored roughly 15% of the content. Despite it’s simplistic coat of paint, there’s a lot to The Spatials other than some generic base builder. While most of the planets have the generic objectives of “kill everything that isn’t you”, some offer unique rewards such as artifacts, alien plants, and Easter eggs to bring back to your station. I really liked the little touches some of the planets had to break up the monotony of turning critters to ash for petty change and experience points.
Final Verdict: 8.9
Personally, I really liked The Spatials. Gamers who are looking for a challenge will disagree but I thought it was a nice cozy game to cuddle up to when you just want to relax and build something really cool. The space combat and exploration element compliments the base building aspects nicely, and provides are much more interactive gameplay element for gathering resources. Offering a huge galaxy to explore and pillage gives real life to The Spatials, and gamers who enjoy building huge sprawling bases will spend countless hours in their cozy personal space (station).