Wednesday, March 18, 2020

REVIEW: Spaceland

A lot of my recent dive into indie games can be traced back to SteamWorld Heist, a game that mysteriously appeared on my computer one day and introduced me to the turn-based shooter genre. Right away, I wanted more. It wasn't long until I stumbled onto another such game: Spaceland.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Spaceland courtesy of Tortuga Team.
Opinions are my own.

Perhaps the most dynamic turn-based strategy in the spirit of XCOM. Less covers, more action. Land on the lost planet and give the mutants hell. Shoot, kick, blow, crush. You will gather the most desperate team of fighters and unravel the secrets of the mystical planet in the best traditions of science fiction genre.

Spaceland follows the adventures of two space rangers who answer a distress signal on an isolated planet. There, they encounter a military crew and uncover a mysterious secret between the planet's surface. As the game progresses you'll unlock more party members, upgrade your abilities, and blast your way through dozens of missions.

Unlike most tactical games I've played, levels in Spaceland are more than dropping you in a room full of bad guys to defeat with maybe an additional objective. Instead, each mission is set in a larger map to explore with battles spread throughout. While this does create some downtime, there is also a sense of uncertainty. You can only view the map within your character's line of sight - every step could take you closer to danger.

Each of the characters in Spaceland has their own specialties. Since you can rarely take more than three into a mission at a time, there is an extra challenge of deciding who would be a best fit for what assignment. Only one character can heal, but sometimes you need to sacrifice that for extra fire power.

Spaceland is a lot of fun, but some of the levels can be frustratingly hard. I often feel like I am playing a puzzle game, not a strategy game. A few levels in particular seemed to require specific actions be taken in an exact sequence. If you screw up one, you might as well start over and try again.

And for a game called “Spaceland” it sure does seem to take place entirely on one planet. When it comes to a space opera, especially a game, it’s fun to explore other settings and not stay in one place for so long.⁣ You do delve deeper into this same planet and encounter different enemies with different abilities, so it's not exactly boing or unimaginative. It just leaves something to be desired.

But just because I expected or wanted something else, that doesn't mean Spaceland isn't for me. I love a good challenge and a lot of sci-fi games get so ambitious with their space exploration to the point that they never even get released. Spaceland keeps you on your toes changing thing sup slightly with each mission so it never gets predictable and stays challenging the whole way through.

Spaceland is currently available on the Steam and the Nintendo Switch.