Plancon: Space Conflict Review

Plancon: Space Conflict Review

May 26, 2015

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don’t care, I’m still free
You can’t take the sky from me.

If you’re a fan of Serenity, those lyrics will make sense almost immediately. The criminally short-lived series would probably find a kindred spirit in HeroCraft’s new caper Plancon: Space Conflict. In this one, space exploration is the name of the game, ut with an added twist: invading aliens.

The action starts with an in-game tutorial; it is a bit of a slow going, almost ploddingly so, but, as gameplay further on underscored, it is important to understand the basics. The player takes on the persona of an adventurer in a future world where extended space travel is possible and commonplace. The game leads one through the basics of interplanetary travel, which is effected by tapping and double-tapping. There is also the collection of valuable materials, and simple combat. One is also introduced to the commerce system, which is probably the most intricate aspect of the game.


With this, one can pick up missions to earn payment in cash or kinds. Taking such missions usually entails overcoming a hazard or so, and it is pertinent to note that valuable resources are logically expended during missions. The payouts and/or goods procured can be used to get better machinery and gear. One big thing that continually needs to be improved is the ship itself, as the one the player is initially gifted with is barebones in nature

So, in a nutshell is brings a lot of RPG elements and ties them into a space cowboy narrative. The missions help the player to gain the resources needed to maintain and improve gear. Then, by assembling a crew to go with what one hopes will be an able battle cruiser, it is possible to go toe-toe with the Earth-hating enemies.

The game works well because of its variety. There are several things to do, and several paths to take. From recruiting to space dogfights, there is plenty to wet one’s beak in. The graphics are a bit gentle, and the action sequences took some getting used to, but all in all, the game calls to the space cowboy in all of us.

I think Nate Fillion would be at home with this one.

Battlestation: First Contact Review

Battlestation: First Contact Review

Nov 19, 2014

Battlestation: First Contact Is an interesting mix of RTS and tower defence.

As commander of a large space station the player simply needs to survive by any means possible while wiping out the enemy. Gun turrets can be built in a number of slots on the station. These range from fast firing anti fighter lasers to slower heavy missile launchers for pounding the snot out of big ships. Having a good balance of weapons to combat different threats is as important here as it is in any tower defence.

Screenshot_2014-11-14-08-15-18As well as towers however the player can also construct Hangars. Once built these spit out fighter in a steady steam, providing mobile defence that can be sent to attack the enemy or cover the station as necessary. Fighter squadrons can be individually ordered about and while they cannot be moved directly, the player always feels like they have firm control over their pilots.

A shuttle bay can also be built that allows marines to be sent in troop carriers to opposing enemy ships to take them over and steal them from the enemy. Lastly, Earth can be contacted for reinforcements to bring in the big guns. This doesn’t come cheap however.

Screenshot_2014-11-14-08-37-08Of course all this fancy gear costs credits which are gained by destroying enemies and tapping on salvage. Marines and pilots are also a finite resource, so flippantly throwing away fighters or troops in futile combat will swiftly lead to disaster.

Battlestation: First Contact offers quite a few tactical options. Everything the player builds or uses can be customized like any good RTS. Turrents can have their targeting priority changed, while fighters can be more or less aggressive or dock with the station for upgrades. Shields can also be tweaked to either have more capacity or recharge faster. All of this makes a big difference depending on the situation.

Battlestation is a rougetype. This means when the player dies that saved game is deleted and they must start all over again from wave 1. It is very easy to lose it all very fast in Battlestation: First Contact if a tactical blunder is made. This makes the game tense but it is very aggravating being blown up after twenty minutes of gameplay. This is not helped by the repeated dialogue each game. Battlestation barely has a story to speak of and it is irritating to click though dry dialogue.

Battlestation: First Contact looks nice and minimalist. Its bright, simple graphics give it an inviting TRON like look with chaotic battles that are fun to watch. The sound is well done as well. A pumping techno track accompanies the action. The “pew pew pew” of combat gets the job done in a retro way, but a few more sounds would have been nice.

Battlestation: First Contact offers its first episode for free while additional episodes cost $3.50. If you’re good enough to reach the end of the first episode the later ones will likely be a good buy.

Battlestation: First Contact is a slick well-made game with a great meshing of styles its exciting tactical combat and fresh graphics make it a winner, even if it can be just a little too brutal sometimes.

Star Fleet Deluxe Review

Star Fleet Deluxe Review

Aug 28, 2014

Star Fleet Deluxe is a tactical game that apes Star Trek more than a little. Taking command of a huge starship, the player stands alone against a huge force of murderous aliens, hell-bent on eradicating any and all humans in the galaxy.

Star Fleet Deluxe is a very in-depth, turn based strategy game. The game takes place over a huge area, 81 quadrants of galaxy space to be precise, filled with stars, colonies, planets and starbases.

Screenshot_2014-08-24-21-18-32Star Fleet Deluxe has the player defending a vast universe. Using a slick icon based control system, the player zooms around the universe, seeking out and destroying the warlike Krellan that serve as the game’s primary foes.

Combat is quite in-depth. The player has both phasers and torpedos at his/her disposal and after targeting an enemy the intensity of phasers or the number of torpedos in the spread can be controlled. This allows the player to either destroy or disable targets. Disabled targets can be towed back to a starbase to capture the ship and take prisoners, both of which are usually required for mission objectives.

Screenshot_2014-08-24-16-21-35As the player cruises the universe, reports come in of colonies and starbases coming under attack. Colonies must be protected and starbases, while armed, may need aid as well. Both starbases and planets can resupply the player, so keeping them safe is important to surviving as well as passing the mission. Colony defence and supply management is the whole point of Star Fleet.

Unfortunately Star Fleet Deluxe sucks every iota of fun out of the gameplay with its insistence that every single vessel and base is destroyed in the time limit. It is extremely disheartening to spend twenty minutes on a mission, only to fail because one or two enemy bases on planets couldn’t be found in time. Never mind the fact the player just destroyed 40 ships single-handedly and saved all colonies and starbases, if there’s a single enemy ship or base anywhere, the mission is failed and the game must be started from scratch. This is terrible. There is no need for this exactness. Why not simply base it on the amount of met objectives rather than having to get every single one?

Also the way that boarding combat is handled is completely arbitrary. There is absolutely no control over it. Space Marines may simply flat out fail to take the smallest fighter or take it with nearly no causalities.

Star Fleet Deluxe’s graphics aren’t special at all. Like many strategic games the player spends most of their time reading text and thinking, not gawking at graphics. Star Fleet has a very good interface with plenty of detailed reports to help the player keep on top of their task. A series of icons is used to execute orders and it works very well.

Star Fleet Deluxe is a good strategy game that demands perfection just a little too much. With a less draconian mission structure this game could be great, but it is still a competent strategy game and worth playing.

Beyond Gravity Review

Beyond Gravity Review

Jul 28, 2014

Beyond Gravity is a simple game about an astronaut who got stranded in open space with his spaceship’s parts flying around. Well, I say open space, but it’s actually crammed with planetoids that the astronaut can jump between, collecting any parts that he comes across on the way. The astronaut can’t move around the planets, but he can jump across them, so the player needs to pick the right moment to jump off the spinning rock to reach another one.

There are two paths between each planet. The straightforward path, when a hero jumps while looking straight at it, and a curved one, when he needs to aim correctly, so that the curvature of the jump would lead him to the planet, and not into the gaping nothingness below. Naturally, most of the parts he needs, are along the second path. It’s actually pretty easy to guess the angle, since the floating parts act as guidelines, and the astronaut can double-jump, if the jump got grossly miscalculated, but it’s not the only challenge. There are also asteroids that fly between some of the planets at high speed, and it’s rather difficult to avoid them, even when you don’t try to collect the damn parts.

The parts aren’t there just for the score-keeping, by the way, as they should be spent on different upgrades for the astronaut, giving him much needed versatility. Frankly, the Beyond Gravity 3upgrades aren’t that impressive, but they do help a bit.

What Beyond Gravity definitely lacks is depth. Once the tricky jumping mechanics are figured out, the jump calculations slowly start moving into subconsciousness and you end up sitting with a blank look on your face, as the bearded guy keeps jumping between the rocks like a space grasshopper. Some additional mechanics could go well, or some new challenges, or whatever. Mini-missions are a good thing, but it’s not enough in the long run, I think.

Overall, Beyond Gravity is a fine game. It looks great, it has crystal-clear mechanics, simple controls, and no bugs – what’s more to ask? If the simplicity isn’t an issue, it’s a great time-waster.

Tales of Honor: Secret Fleet Review

Tales of Honor: Secret Fleet Review

Jun 3, 2014

Tales of Honor: Secret Fleet is a cool new space combat game based on a series of novels of the same name. Reading the novels is not required to enjoy the exciting combat in game however.

Tales of Honor casts the player as the replacement captain of a heavily damaged destroyer. With most of the crew dead and some weapons crippled, there is little choice but for the ship to make its escape through a previously uncharted wormhole. From there, it’s a journey to restore the ship and find out who attacked you so the favour can be repaid.

Tales of Honor has a decent story and there’s plenty of dialogue but it’s all very businesslike. What dialogue there is is good enough, but since the game is based on a book some meaty story sequences would be nice.

Screenshot_2014-06-01-16-02-35Battle is a stately, deliberate affair which is all about predicting your opponent’s actions and countering them effectively. Both ships fire at a rate depending on their missile tech and upgrades and incoming fire can be stopped with both laser defenses and counter missile missiles. The enemy often has counter measures as well, so using the right kind of missiles to strip away their shields and defenses before blowing them apart and timing the use of your own defenses is key. The combat is exciting and fun to play and the sheer coolness of laser based point defenses and huge salvos of missiles slamming into ships makes the game hard to put down.

Each part of the ship such as weapons and engineering can be upgraded with the addition of modules, which provide various boosts such as reloading missiles faster or quicker repair of damaged systems.

Defeating enemies earns the player metal and plasma which are used to conduct upgrades, train staff and buy new items. New items are often gained from combat as well.

Tales of Honor: Secret Fleet has a lot of text. While it is playable on a phone a tablet will likely provide a much more pleasurable experience because of the amount of text in game.

Screenshot_2014-06-01-14-58-46The game has plenty of timers which can be frustrating. There are timers for installing parts, timers for training crew and playing missions are limited by warp chargers. This is a lot of limitations. Upgrading items is central to getting anywhere in the game so prepare for plenty of waiting.

Tales of Honor looks fantastic. Ships are super detailed and weapons look just how you’d hope. The slow dance of space combat feels very real and some great looking planets and nebulae really give the game a great look. Tales of Honor does space justice. The sound is well done too with plenty of boomy combat sounds and all the beeps and boops of ship interfaces you’d expect.

Tales of Honor is an excellent game for the price of nothing. It has a few annoying timers but there’s some fun gameplay on offer here and a unique gameplay experience to get your teeth into. Worth a very close look.

Browse the Solar System with Solar Walk

Browse the Solar System with Solar Walk

Apr 30, 2014

Solar Walk 4

Solar Walk is an educational app that lets users fly among the planets of our solar system and learn various interesting facts about it, visualized on their mobile screen. This incredibly useful and very beautiful app is available in paid and free versions on Google Play: Solar Walk Paid, and Solar Walk Free.

New Spaceflight Simulator Hyperion Online is in Open Beta

New Spaceflight Simulator Hyperion Online is in Open Beta

Mar 17, 2014

Hyperion Online 2

Seemingly aiming to become one of those hardcore, ultra-dedicated space sims, Hyperion Online, which is currently in an “open beta” stage, features a number of different mechanics. It contains over 16 different galactic sectors, a great number of ships, PVP, PVE, and other MMO stuff. You can join the open beta by downloading a free client here: Hyperion Online on Google Play.

Presenting Crazy Lazer Action For OUYA, Laza Knites

Presenting Crazy Lazer Action For OUYA, Laza Knites

Mar 17, 2014


This crazy upcoming OUYA title is nothing but space knights lunging at each other in space. I mean it, it’s everything there is. Laza Knites is a crazy deathmatch, with simple but exciting rules. Since it’s only available for OUYA devices, there’s no download link, but here’s a link to the developers: Glitchnap Website.

Planet Descent Review

Planet Descent Review

Feb 28, 2014

Most people wish they were doing something extraordinary, such as running Google, being an Ice Cream taste tester, or piloting a space ship. Sadly, most of us will only be able to act out these dreams through some sort of simulation or game, which is where Planet Descent comes in. In this title, you pilot a space ship around a 2D playing area, dodging asteroids while collecting minerals for fun and profit.

This game inhabits a similar approach to the PC game Lunar Flight, except Planet Descent, as previously mentioned, is 2D rather than 3D. Planet Descent is also quite a bit easier, lacking a lot of the realism or complicated controls used on similar type games. That’s not to say that this mobile title isn’t challenging, but you certainly won’t need years of NASA training to get it either.


Probably one of the best things going for this game is that the developer took what appears to be a simple game, and gave it some variety. While collecting the green minerals is almost always your primary goal, there are plenty of secondary goals involving keeping your hide safe and doing some intuitive flying. Things such as clobbering surface to air guns or avoiding an asteroid belt will also be spun into the mix, making what could have been a dull game, a slightly nerve racking but lively time in Planet Descent.


The game also uses a noir-like art style, reminiscent of games such as Limbo, but with color. This actually helps the game stand out a little more while also making it easier to distinguish your ship from other objects.

Planet Descent is well worth the 99 cents, and will make you feel a lot better than you would after eating something off the dollar menu. It’s usage of physics, great controls, and neat art style combine to make a pretty delightful experience. Planet Descent isn’t going to rock anyone’s socks off, but it is a hidden gem in a sea of disastrous apps and games.

A New Tactical Shooter Is Coming: Line of Defense Tactics

A New Tactical Shooter Is Coming: Line of Defense Tactics

Jan 23, 2014

LOD Tactics 3

This turn-based action game is going to be set in the universe of an upcoming MMO, Line Of Defense. It’s close to the classic UFO in terms of gameplay, and gives the player control over four space troopers, who need to eliminate the enemy, making use of their surroundings as, well as varied weaponry. The game will be available on Google Play, as well as on Amazon, soon. Get more info here: Line of Defense Website.

Galaxy Factions Released For Android

Galaxy Factions Released For Android

Jan 22, 2014

Galaxy Factions 2

The new free-to-play space strategy, fresh from iOS, has now arrived on Google Play, letting Android users play along with iOS users in a colorful and complex real-time strategy. Galaxy Factions offers nice visuals and a persistent multiplayer. It can be downloaded for free from here: Galaxy Factions on Google Play.

KickStarter Spotlight: New Orbit

KickStarter Spotlight: New Orbit

Jan 15, 2014

When looking for a good project to spotlight this week I had trouble finding a deserving Android-compatible game. There suddenly seems to be a random dearth of games up for funding, but as always a deserving candidate rose to the top. This week’s spotlight is cast on a great little game called New Orbit; which is actually the second part to a previous game that garnered some impressive attention considering it was built by a one-man team. This time around, however, there are three developers working on cinematics, gameplay, and sound which naturally expands the scope and quality of the game.

The basic storyline behind New Orbit is that the player is an engineer in an escape pod floating around the ruins of a mothership that was blown up on a mysterious mission. Because the player is simply a lowly engineer they are not privy to the details of the mission, and that is what much of the storyline revolves around. Taking a page from the wildly successful Kerbal Space Program game; the escape pod can be upgraded with numerous parts and sensors that, along with even fuel amount, realistically alter the performance of the craft. New Orbit even includes real-time cockpit control panels when sensors are added to the spacecraft. In order to add some new high-tech sensor from a wreckage the player might have to upgrade to a better generator in order supply enough power. This example shows how much attention was paid to even the smallest details of New Orbit.

This great gameplay is built around what is promised to be an extraordinary story that is sure to keep players committed to ensuring their virtual counterpart’s survival and wellbeing. At the time of writing, with 8 days to go, New Orbit still needs $24,000 to become fully funded, and from what I have seen this game more than deserves to be seen to completion. Those who enjoy simulation games like Kerbal or adventure games are sure to find themselves investing a lot of time into New Orbit. So, like always, do what is possible and at the very least pay their KickStarter page a visit and consider helping a deserving project.