Starbound is a game that recently opened its doors with an open beta, December 4th if you want to be precise. An indie game made by Chucklefish Ltd., Starbound has the player controlling a character who has recently fled their homeworld and must survive on alien planets through crafting, and spelunking. While sounding a lot like Mojang’s hit sandbox game Minecraft, the game is actually more similar to ReLogic’s Terraria in the sense that action and exploration are both bound to a 2-D perspective. While I never played Terraria due to never getting around to it, a friend and avid supporter of the site recently gifted Starbound to me (most likely out of Christmas cheer). Being the kind of person who never buys gifts for other people, I figured I at least owed it to him to try the game out, so I installed it, started up, and set sail to explore the cosmos as Hank Dangerfield, the most underqualified interplanetary explorer the universe has ever seen.
As stated above, I never played Terraria, so don’t expect any kind of in-depth comparison of the two. this is just what I think of only Starbound overall.
First off, this pixelated indie retro bullshit artstyle is growing extremely old. PCs can run games of varying quality, so why does everyone choose such a low quality artstyle? It gets old people. Anyways, while the visuals are really disappointing, the animations are still very fluid and the music is pretty damn swell. I haven’t had any system problems or bugs, the controls all seem to function well, and the aesthetics are quite pleasant. Overall it doesn’t make me want to kill myself, which is better than some other games I’ve passed by recently.
Now for some downsides. Being a sandbox game, it’s very dependent on player motivation to have substance. That means single player can end up being short and uneventful if you don’t have a reason to play it. Multiplayer, however, is fun as all hell and will usually be the preferred game mode. While you have a choice of multiple races, they don’t really function differently so far. For example, the walking birdmen, robots, and humans are all mechanically similar, so there’s no other reason to play a certain race except aesthetics. It seems like a missed opportunity, but since this is only in open beta so far, maybe someone will take advantage of each race’s backstory and physiology and make something nifty.
Other than those few things, Starbound’s open beta is pretty fun so far. I haven’t gotten far, and being finals week I don’t really have the time to invest in more time playing, but if you can get access for cheap and you’re really into sandbox games, then try it out. Maybe you can dream of making something better than my sick crib.