In the plains of an endless solar system, the pure fact that it does actually have its walls strikes me as odd. That’s only if you let it though, and with it being an entirely turn based game, that endless spanning set of stars really dawns on you. This mostly fan made turn based strategy game has endless possibilities.
Released as a paid alpha test client on Steam last year, Endless Space gathered the funds required to finish its development cycle through the kind players willing to buy a game in a very rough state. Even then they were rewarded with polls and the chance to each become what were essentially developers in their own right. That way the fans got to shape a game the way they wanted rather than publishers and developers assuming this is what you should get.
For any of you Civilisation players, you’ll feel straight at home in the limitless span of space. Honestly, I didn’t, I’m more of an RTS player myself so Endless Space had me setting out to an experienced friend’s house to seek tutoring. Tutoring that didn’t really help. If you’re unfamiliar with classic turn based strategy games, the in-game tutorial will seem endless in its own right. It’s a hard game to grasp with a pretty large learning curve, but it’s somewhat of a rewarding experience if you ultimately find yourself a fan of the genre. The mysterious, soft visuals of space and the ambient music will feel so different from the endless gunfire and slow rock music of say, Total War and Civilisation, really allows you to take in just about everything that’s going on in the solar system at any given time.
Just like any game of its kind. Endless Space isn’t just about smashing the opposition into the ground in glorified bloodshed and skull crushing crusades. You can opt for that if you really want too, and if you do, we can promise the space battles consisting of your huge fleet against 4 other enemy ships will really seal the deal there. Otherwise you can choose to be a bit more humane in your victories either choosing to seek control by populating the vast stretches of space, becoming a powerful space tycoon, or striking political deals with the locals through trade resources before they decide to vaporise your very existence. It’s a huge game of tactics, as you’d expect, and it’s one you’re pretty likely to get sucked into even if you have little understanding of what exactly is going on – that was me all over.
Endless Space is even more endless than you would think in conventional terms. You can set the actual simulation to “endless” in its self if you really want to imitate that guy who played a 10 year game of Civilisation II. Aside from that, even the customisation options will seem endless to the best of us. In the midst of your space conquering efforts you’ll probably find yourself knee-deep in the ship cosmetics screen tweaking those hulking space war machines to your liking so that you fire pure humiliation at your multiplayer rivals (or political allies) with your large pink defender fleet. It’s not going to make you feel like Captain Kirk, but that’s the joy of being your own boss, I guess!
All in all, the developers (and you guys) have done a pretty great job at creating a “Civilisation in space”. Just as its title recommends, the game can be just how long or short as you want. And with the ability to assign AI to control each individual part of your strategic efforts, you’ll never get overburdened with the endless colonies and planet systems at your disposal. It’s certainly going to be a bumpy ride to truly figure the game out for most, but those veterans will find it as a worthy contender in a surprisingly quiet genre.
Audio/visuals – 4/5 – The soft and smooth visuals will look basic, yet incredible at the same time. Just like space itself. And once you decide to hit the “manual” button over “automatic” in combat, you’ll really see where the money went in this game. It’s glorious!
Gameplay – 4/5 – Any budding strategy gamer will see nothing to criticise here. It’s just like any other title but with a greater emphasis on the great great out-doors. If Civilisation is your cup of tea, you’ll find little reason to check out Endless Space.
Replay Value – 5/5 : It’s endless. What more do you want?
Innovation – 2/5 – I didn’t see Endless Space doing much that other turn based strategy titles haven’t done in the past. Though maybe that’s a good thing. They’re already incredibly deep and complex to the right people.
Final Score: 4/5