Technology is great. I think, given the website you’re reading, that we can all agree on that statement. Of course it’s even better for us gamers as the ever-expanding nature of tech means that in a generation we’ve seen games go from a short Italian plumber jumping on mushrooms to epic, sweeping tales rendered in beautiful eye-melting HD.
Traditionally, it’s been the quest for ever-greater graphics that have defined gaming’s march of progress but recently some interesting splinters have started to emerge. It could be because we’re rapidly heading into the Uncanny Valley of HD Graphics, or maybe it’s because “retro” and “vintage” have become common terms in the cultural lexicon, or perhaps Minecraft blew our collective minds but recent trends in gaming have seen some developers (and especially indie crews) abandoning triple A graphics and instead delivering quirky, unique gameplay experiences with lower-key visuals.
Stellar, the new title from DogEatDog Games, is very much from this school of game design. Our own Nick Horry previewed the title back in January, but with their Kickstarter Campaign heading into the final 18 hour stretch we got a sneak peek of gameplay with their first Beta.
So what did we think?
Short Answer: I liked it, maybe even a lot.
Obviously, being a Beta, the game is still pretty rough but there’s enough here to highlight the potential of what DogEatDog are building, and the old school polygonal graphics were hitting all the right buttons to send me back to the glory days of StarFox 64…though I didn’t get to do a barrel roll.
The gameplay, as I said earlier, is definately the game’s strongest point. As well as allowing you to zip around a randomly generated universe in your own space fighter, capturing a feeling of epic freedom sadly missing in some recent space games, the game also introduces some interesting twists on traditional gameplay. Like Fez, you can swap between a 3D and 2D universe at the push of a button, instantly changing the game from a 3D space sim into a weird cross between a Bullet-Hell title and Asteroids.
Enemies randomnly appear and are nicely varied (even in the Beta), with large fighters joined by absolutely enormous space station which fling purple beams of death from their extremities. If you get tired of fighting you can simply pick a direction and hit ‘turbo thrusters’ to disappear into the ether and pretty much fly forever. I eventually found the scenery stopped loading, but from the looks of the launch trailer the hope for the final game is that new areas will constantly appear.
As I said, the version we played was only a Beta, but it nailed the thing that really makes a great title and has me so excited for similar games like No Mans Sky; the feeling that you can journey endlessly into the starry sky and find a new adventure in every star system.
If you like the sound of it, head on over to DogEatDogs Kickstarter page and maybe give a couple bucks. For $15 you get access to the Beta we played, so if nothing else you could get a fun little distraction out of helping a pretty good cause.
“Making you a Better Geek, one Game at a time!”