It’s Monday and that means it’s time for MONG’s Indie Game Spotlight. This week’s article focuses Starbound, a game currently in beta being developed by Chucklefish.
Starbound is a new space-sandbox adventure game which features endless procedural planets to discover and explore in single-playeras well as with friends in multi-player mode. In addition to the normal modes, there is also a hard-core perma-death mode for those favoring that sort of playstyle. Starbound’s features are similar to the voxel based crafting games a la Minecraft and more recently Terraria, featuring an infinite amount of planets to land on and discover. Travel is handled from your space ship by using a feature called the Starmap. Starbound has quests and story driven missions to keep you occupied while fighting your way through the inhabitants of these planets and looting their treasures. In addition to crafting powerful armor and weapons, you can always find gear throughout planets’ endless caves and structures.
In Starbound, your home away from home is your spaceship. Your spaceship is fully customizable, and you can use it to either make a crafting center, or just a display area for your most prized possessions. In order to travel the universe your spaceship needs fuel. At the beginning of the game, coal is the only available fuel source, but you can find upgraded fuels as you progress through the universe.
There are different “sectors” of the universe, representing different difficulties and levels of planets. Certain quests will need to be completed and bosses defeated before advancing to the new sectors. As you level up, you can upgrade the armor you crafted with newer materials that only spawn in the higher sectors.
At the core of this game is its freedom and true sandbox style. If you feel like building a massive fortress, all you have to do is beam down to a planet and start constructing. Too lazy to build one? That’s fine as well, beam down to a planet and find an already inhabited settlement, and take it by force! NPC towns are littered about the planets, offering vendors and unique pieces to that race that you can either purchase, or just steal.
An interesting twist to the game is the interactions of the 6 playable races (with a seventh on its way) with their NPC counterparts. Some races are allies, while some are mortal enemies. Some will allow you into their towns to conduct business, while others will attack you on site. Each race has its own unique armor, weapon, and building materials, which allows you to take pieces you like from certain races that you can blend together into your perfect style.
While the game is still technically in beta, there is plenty to do. Aside from progressing through the game and gearing up, one could literally spend days exploring new planets. There are hundreds of different biomes styles from desert to forest to ice caves, and each planet is different than the next.
Adding to the games replayability is the fact that Chucklefish is open to the mod community, and many mods have already been developed to further your creativity, including a fully modular spaceship, and some interesting other customizations.
When I first saw screens of Starbound early last year, I dismissed it as a Terraria clone, and didn’t really hold much stock in it. After watching the development closely I decided to give it a chance, bought an early access key, and began playing it. While Starbound shares the same kind of visual style as Terraria, and the same build one kind of item and upgrade as you level mentality, the games are actually quite different. The planets of Starbound are so much more alive due to the NPCs and more variety in biomes. I have had a ton of fun playing Starbound so far, and with updates rolling out regularly, I will be busy with content for some time. Chucklefish has stated that they have a lot more content planned, including more bosses and end-game PVP content, so the future of this game seems secure for quite a while.