Thursday, August 6, 2015

Spacebase DF-9

Developer/Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Steam: Spacebase DF-9

To quote Thumper from Disney's classic Bambi "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." Okay, I can manage that. Spacebase DF-9 has decent music. Now that's outta the way, what in the hell happened Double Fine? This game is a mess from the UI, menus, AI, and that is all I could stand to play before I raged quit the game. This title proves that even great Indie developers can make terrible mistakes. There is a long story about things that went on behind the scene. Shady events occured, development crew fired, and just a whole bunch of negativity. So I am just here to discuss the game. Nothing else. I personally still think very highly of Double Fine, their catalog of fantastic games far outweighs, this, whatever this is.

Well, technically this is a Spacebase management simulator. Other games like this are Banished, Prison Architect to name a couple. Your tasked with creating a sprawling base with rooms for every need and demand, from research labs, refineries and sleeping areas. You will start from nothing and build a long lasting community. That is of course you can survive the disasters, pirates, suicidal crew members, and terrible lack of information that is given to you.

This game had a lot of potential and it's got great ideas, but execution is what failed here. I started with the tutorial which gave me the basic idea of what needed to be built and done. This tutorial itself had some issues, not explaining how to access what it demanded nor where the items should be built. Hilariously I did fail the tutorial, let me repeat that, I failed the tutorial. I have been playing games for over 20 years and I review games as a hobby. Needless to say after laughing it off and restarting, I managed to figure out what was needed to pass the tutorial, little did I know the pain was just beginning.

You start off with a power generator and 3 dudes floating in space. What could possibly go wrong? Well, it turns out quite a bit. My first batch of three died of oxygen starvation, they simply didn't have enough time to build a room of sufficient size and all asphyxiated.  So I got wiser, I built small room by small room. This time, I simply ran out of money. I needed to create a refinery but to do that I needed materials, the only way to get materials was to make a refinery. Before I could sell something, they all died from raiders. The next group all got stuck in the airlock, they asphyxiated too. So my last group I took painstaking effort to make sure nothing could go wrong, I managed to repel a raider attack, I built my refinery and everything seemed like it was going to work out. Next thing I know the crew all start panicking and my refinery room begins to lose oxygen. My main room was still fully oxygenated but for some reason the AI felt the need to run everybody into that room and they all died.

This is where I drew the line and said screw it. You spend most of your time battling the AI or random events then you do actually getting anything going in your station. The lack of information if one room is going to exceed the oxygen limit or power limit is pivotal but instead of making this information readily available, it's divided by room and in a specific inspection mode. Making this aspect time consuming and pain to manage. Things just are a mess across the board from camera angles, object orientation, and construction. You have to build some rooms in very specific ways because of the camera. With no ability to turn the camera, this makes things frustrating. If I had one word for the overall gameplay it would be frustrating. The game is already hard but nothing is made easy for you from checking basic things like crew status to basic needs. Then it feels the need to stack the chips against you more with constant negative events. Let me be clear, I think there is a fun game here. The masochist inside me wanted to see how many more horrible ways my crew could die but it simply was just too frustrating at times. Buried under layers of bad AI and very specific construction demands.

The overall appearance of the game is just fine. I found it humorous the way my colonist would float though the station/walls in their spacesuits trying to accomplish a task.  Bodies would clip through certain objects, and other visual hiccups like lighting suddenly shifting without warning. Rooms would just come to life and die randomly. Sometimes the animations were clunky and disjointed, characters removing space suits in the middle of the lounge instead of the airlock. I swear they wouldn't use the doors sometimes. Atleast the music was nice.


I could go on about this game and how it missed the mark but it's not really worth it, The developer has said no time will be taken to fixing the game and its issues. Its become abandonware and desolate, just like my several failed stations. Replay value plummets due to repetitive gameplay, there is no innovation, other games have done this and done it better, all there is plenty of is frustration. Avoid this game unless you are a masochist and want to play a game that is stacked against you from AI to constant death by in-game events.

  • I'ts got decent music.
  • Good for a laugh
  • Fufills the inner maschist
  • Decent visuals
  • Bad Tutorial
  • Terrible AI
  • Lack of informative tooltips
  • Abadonware

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