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Starlight Inception

By Bis18marck7011-02-2014
MrJenssen (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
Starlight Inception

The Defence

Escape Hatch Entertainment
Escape Hatch Entertainment
Action, Indie, Simulator
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Quad 2.4 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTX 560
AMD Radeon HD 6950
4 GB
6 GB

Someone once called Space ’The Final Frontier’. That someone battled lizards, his own irresistible sex appeal and the incompetent red shirts with whom he went on each and every mission. Whether it is actually the final frontier is something for those people that got their degrees in science or philosophy to decide. I certainly do not know. However, that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about infinity and beyond, drifting in outer space and contemplating on the meaning of life while my vast forces destroy every single thing standing in my way. Whether I relived that dream in Freelancer, the X-universe or Galactic Civilization didn’t matter. As long as it’s in space and shoots lasers with that soothing pew-pew sound, I am game. And if it has a steep learning curve and lots of depth, then I am completely and utterly sold.

The visuals still need a lot of work.

The visuals still need a lot of work.

You’d think someone like me is looking forward to Star Citizen and the new remake of Elite? Well, you are right. But those games are still a while off. So what else do we have on the market at the moment to pass the time? Well, here is Starlight Inception. With promises to revive the space-sim combat genre which has seen little since Starlight Inception’s spiritual forefathers, X-Wing, Wing Commander and Freespace, the game certain sets a high mark for itself. However, that didn’t seem to help at first, with the project sitting on Kickstarter for some time, barely reaching its goal in time with only a few pennies to spare. But let’s be honest, in a market that eagerly anticipates and throws all its money at the aforementioned Star Citizen and Elite, being able to get crowd-funded isn’t exactly a piece of cake.

From the offset, the game shows off true potential. The plot of the campaign might not be the most imaginative, but it certainly beats your average game story. The actual ships, vessels and anything outta-orbit have been designed rather well, with a clear line running between the different ship versions, showing of the progress of ship development in this particular universe. The music score too has a good ring to it, building up the action as you fly across open space. Sadly, from there on, it’s a steep drop.

Indeed, the graphics, controls, physics and sound design are a long way off from what I would classify as ready - all can professionally be described as ‘meh’. The actual ship models fit the artistic style and are aesthetically pleasing, that must be said. However, little has been done to show off the beautiful surrounding. The planets are barren - sure, a nuclear wasteland and a desert planet don’t have much beauty in them to begin with, but they’re likely not as stale as currently in Starlight either - and the game is currently locked to 60 FPS. Nothing that can’t be changed before release, sure.

Want to be on the list? Shell out some money on Kickstarter.

Want to be on the list? Shell out some money on Kickstarter.

Flying both in space and then, seamlessly into in the atmosphere of a planet, the game has definitely potential when it comes to flight modeling. Yet, currently the game doesn’t unlock that potential, and whether it is ever going to is unsure. The controls too are nothing spectacular. Newton’s first law of motion does not seem to apply in the future, meaning that flying in an atmosphere is the exact same experience as flying in vacuum. Older games like Darkstar, which also went for an arcady control interface, did better in that regard. Being a fan of hardcore games and wishing for accurate physics, Starlight’s flight gives nothing but a solid foundation for potential beta updates.

On the topic of flying. Well, you have your craft(s), which can be upgraded with various modules and weapons. The combat itself is, like the flying, bland. It is a hard topic to critique in a beta, but various parts of the combat need a definite revamp to appeal to the crowd that wants a challenge. Indeed, the game features an (optional) auto lock feature, turning your plasma cannons into homing missiles if you only so much as shoot into the general direction of the enemy’s flight path. The bare existence of this feature utterly obliterates any challenge, and makes actual missiles meaningless. It also allows for snipes from 14km out. The game literally breaks its own combat system.

You earn investable points during your missions, with which you can buy new ships and upgrades. It serves its purpose but it would be beneficial to have more diversity between what ship can have what upgrade, making planes more unique and diverse. What is great, however, is that you can walk aboard your mothership and discover the various levels, from the hangar to the bridge. It serves no true purpose so far, but hey, it’s a nice feature, and the developers can catch up on that in the coming months or even post-release.

Being able to walk inside your spaceship is always cool.

Being able to walk inside your spaceship is always cool.

With a campaign already in the game, we find an intriguing storyline that yet has to fully immerse us. The actual script can be labelled as ‘US American’. It’s beset with stereotypical military talk seen on the History Channel or in any patriotic Hollywood movies any day of the week. Maybe that is a conscious decision by the developer, but to me, it brought nothing to the game except a chuckle. Of course, the game is riddled with placeholders (magic word: Beta) but to stand by its own right, the title will have to up its game in this department, not only by replacing the placeholders, but also by improving its actual script. On the positive side of things is the fact that they have already brought in better voice actors over the various updates, so it’s good to see the developers greatly improve in this regard.

At the moment Starlight Inception is very raw, but can it achieve all the possibilities? Yes it can, because the fundamentals are right there, in the beta. Now it is up to the developers to get cracking and make the release into the game that it could be – oh, and while you’re on that, get rid of the 60 FPS cap.

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