Satellite Reign Hands-On Preview
Satellite Reign is a spiritual successor to the earlier Syndicate games from the 1990s, which featured isometric squad-based gameplay set within a futuristic sci-fi universe. For those that have not heard of the games from the 1990s, you may have heard of the more recent first-person shooter take on Syndicate, which was released in 2012 and published by EA. However Satellite Reign, developed by 5 Lives Studios, is taking the game back to its squad based, strategy style roots.
The game currently is in pre-alpha after a successful Kickstarter funding. And, as is to be expected from an alpha, the game doesn’t have a lot to sink your teeth into, but does give you a sense of what 5 Live Studios is trying to achieve. To those that are fans of the sci-fi or cyberpunk settings, Satellite Reign will definitely hit the spot in terms of delivering a futuristic world that is akin to iconic cyberpunk films like Blade Runner. Gameplay wise, Satellite Reign encompasses a number of different mechanics that will hold the attention of most strategy and isometric RPG gamers.
You start the game in a dreary neon-lit city, where the drenching rain is pouring down on three of your controllable agents. You have the stealthy infiltrator, the gun slinging soldier, the handy support guy and the obligatory hacker all at your disposal. You can control your squad individually, or move them as a group, which no doubt is where the strategy elements will come into play as you can position your individual guys to ambush or infiltrate.
The first objective in the game is to free your soldier buddy from the local police station, which will require hacking some doors open and a bit of sneaking around security guards and cameras. If you’re having a hard time picturing the gameplay overall, imagine a squad-based Deus Ex with a bird’s-eye view. Gadgets, hacking and general sci-fi tomfoolery will all play a part in progressing through this game. After securing the last member of your squad and achieving a full compliment of skilled agents, it seems as if the game is up to you what you want to do next. You can research new equipment and tech, or explore the city at will. The city within Satellite Reign is open, even in this early stage of development and features narrow alleyways and sky bridges to navigate around.
I decided my next move was to take my squad and infiltrate ‘Ronin Industries’ and ultimately coerce a worker of theirs to instead work for me. This time I wanted to try a less subtle approach, and attempted an XCOM style attack on the compound. I positioned my squad behind various bits of environmental cover and opened fire on the guards. The combat at this stage feels clunky, as you would expect, and could do with a fair amount of work. Overall, I think Satellite Reign will push players down a more rewarding ‘subtle’ approach to dealing with missions, instead of the ‘blast your way’ approach. However, it’s always nice for the player to have the option.
RPG elements will be implemented, as you will eventually be able to equip and develop your squad members. Whether or not the game will allow you to ‘extend the interests’ of a player owned mega-corporation is yet to be seen. It seems instead that you are simply four agents that are out to destabilize the establishment, which is still cool in my opinion. The future of the game is said to hold many exciting features, such as bending the will of others through hacking neural implants, to robbing banks to fund your terrorist antics.
Satellite Reign looks incredibly promising, and will no doubt attract the attention of a lot of players due to its various gameplay elements and rich setting. With the game being so early in development, I definitely will be taking another look at it in the future. At this stage, however, I can only hope that the game lives up to expectations, as I can imagine there’s a fair few gamers out there that are hungry for a game like this.
Satellite Reign is available now on Steam Early Access for Windows PC, Mac and Linux.
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