Developer: Eleon Game Studios
Publisher: Eleon Game Studios
Demo Box: PC
Synopsis: The search for paradise is as old as humanity. However, by the end of the 24th century, the Earth will be far from being a paradisiacal place…Overpopulation, runaway climate change and natural resource exhaustion had lead to political instability, riots and looting, war over resources, hundreds of millions of refugees, severe droughts, famines, mass extinctions of many species, and ecosystem collapse.
In the year 2402, a team of researchers discovered the wreck of a starship in the Antarctic, hidden up to this time under a thick cover of ice. Apparently, the ship belonged to a technologically highly advanced alien race and was powered by an unknown form of energy. Also a star was recovered whose symbols were similar to those used in ancient cosmologies to describe “Empyrion” – the land of plenty. The star map seemed to point to a location far away in the Andromeda Galaxy about 2.5 million light-years away.
Given the increasingly desperate situation on Earth, the “United Council of Humanity” decided to focus the remaining resources on Earth on a unified effort to build a fleet of starships with the aim of establishing contact with the mysterious aliens and finding Empyrion. All ships were equipped with an alien energy cell to power their experimental hyperdrives.
Finally, in the year 2473, the fleet of starships is ready and you are the first commander of the frigate “Titan.” After you activate the hyperdrive, however, something goes wrong an unknown force takes control of your ship… Subsequent to reappearance from hyperdrive, your ship is disabled and drifts in the orbit of an unknown planet somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy far away from the destination that was indicated by the map. You have lost contact with all other ships of your fleet. Gravity pulls your disabled ship towards the surface where it crashes.
The impact completely destroys the ship and kills the crew. You are the only survivor. Find a way to leave this hostile planet and uncover the mysteries of Empyrion. Save the Earth before it is too late!
::Please note: This game is still in Early Alpha, as such anything and everything I discuss in this review is subject, and probably will be changed! For reference the current build I’m using is 7.5.9::
A quick plug: I’ve been playing this a lot over on my Twitch channel, so if you’ve got an interest in this, drop on by and see how i muck up everything 😀
I don’t have a good track record with survival games, as all the ones I’ve played have failed to keep me interested. In fact, some of them (Space Engineers for example) felt like they were going out their way to be frustrating.
However most of the people I know have been raving about Empyrion for a while now so I decided to take a gamble and reached out to the Dev’s who kindly provided a key. All I can say is, this game is damn awesome!
Lets talk about the tutorial, the starting point, and stumbling block of a lot of survival games. Empyrion’s tutorial is a stand alone little mini campaign, and it does a solid job of teaching you everything you need to survive. Though I did notice that some of the items it gives you to use aren’t in the actual game. For example, the grow light in the tutorial covers a 3×3 area, but the one in the base game you get access to seems to only cover a 1×2 area. First time I was on the planet I assumed 3×3 and ended up losing a lot of crops.
However I have to admit that the tutorial is really well put together, and although incomplete, it does it’s job.
Now lets talk about the actual game, survival, creative and multiplayer. First up lets talk about the survival mode. I’ve spent the most amount of time in this mode, and while it’s been a lot of fun I do find it lacking when it comes to choices.
So at the start you have a choice of planets:
Akua, the ‘easy’ planet. Has breathable air, temperate climate and is for the most part relatively calm. Unless you’re unlucky in the seed roll and end up with a drone base right on your doorstep (happened to me once). It’s also supposed to have a good range of ore. At least thats what the official wiki says, it should have: Iron, Copper, Silicon, Promethium, Cobalt, and Magnesium, but I’ve yet to find the last 2 on any play through (I’ve had around 10 so far) You’ll find scared points of interest, ranging from villages to factories to power planets and mines.
I’ve spent the most time on Akua and thats where I’d recommend you start from.
Omicron is the second planet choice, and it’s a huge upgrade in terms of difficulty. You’ve got no breathable air, so farming is going to require you to build proper green houses for them. There’s a lot more flora to find and use, some of it is immediately edible, probably to offset the difficulty a bit. And you’ve a lot more agreessive critters running around, and you’ll also have to deal with a big ass drone ship that comes around every now and then to blow you up.
All in all it’s a step up in difficulty, but honestly a lot of fun once you’ve got the mechanics of the game down.
Both planets are just the starting point, you’ve got space with it’s moons and space stations to explore as well as other planets. There’s supposed to be a procedural seed in survival though I have to admit the changes it involves doesn’t really seem to be that varied.
Next up is Creative and Creative Empty, which is basically free mode. You get to just run riot and build stuff. You can use any map, other than Omicron Moon, and there’s no procedural seed on this one.
Finally we have multiplayer, which is pretty straight forward I think! It’s worth mentioning that Eleon have two separate serves running, one with a custom story mode and the other the standard. (Available in both EU and USA).
I wont cover the MP or Creative in this post, since I’ve spent the vast majority of my time in the survival mode so thats where I’m going to talk about.
Gameplay is pretty much your normal FPS game, you run around killing stuff gathering the resources you need to build your way off the planet. Day time is moderately safe, as most critters will ignore you with the exception of the bugs! Those buggers (pun intended!!) will chase you and give you poison! Also be careful when you do kill stuff as you’ll agro any and al mobs in the area, including the villagers.
During the night everything is out to kill you! So early in the game you want to spend your nights tucked up nice and safe in your cabin. This does mean you’re going to have some frustrating down time where you’re literally standing around in the dark doing jack.
The crafting is, frankly, spot on IMO. The content is gated behind different tiers of constructors, which you unlock fairly quickly. Though admittedly unlocking stuff isn’t that hard, it’s the gathering of materials that proves to be the challenge.
What suprised me even more is the great variety of vehicles and buildings you can get in the game, both official and from the steam workshop. These are also pretty damn smart looking! Everything is constructed, weapons, food, med kits, and tools.
And sadly this is where I have to throw the first negative into the mix. As mentioned earlier, Akua seems to be missing some of the ores it’s supposed to have (cobalt and magnesiaum). Which is very frustrating as a lot of the mid to high end stuff starts wanting these ores. The only place I found these ores was in a few of the POI’s, but never enough for the job at hand.
What I found happening because of this was hitting a wall. You get so far on the planet and then you cant get any further. To get the good stuff you’ve got to go into enemy POI’s, but these POI’s have heavy defence turrets that will literally one shot you from half a mile away. Whats more these turrets are immune to any sort of damage your little peashooter guns can put out. Even with minions on a ship they do no damage.
In the end I got frustrated with this and ended up using god mode to get past the turrets and into the POI, before turning it off and fighting the mobs again. However even then, the gains tend to run the gambit from worthwhile to worthless.
Another thing I found frustrating is that some of the stuff you really want, you can’t get, stuff like the larger grow lights, night vision goggles etc are all missing from the tech tree. So the only way you can get them is if RNG is on you’re side and you find it in a POI, very frustrating to say the least. Night vision especially is painful, since the generic light you get is pathetic and cant light up anything. Even stuff like medium and heat armour is missing from the tech tree, as are the boosters. Hopefully these are just hidden and once you get off the planet properly, they’ll unlock or something.
That aside though, the game is a lot of fun, I can’t deny that. Also, this is the ALPHA version of the game so it’s not surprising it’s got some niggles and missing bits.
Now lets talk graphics. The game is pretty average looking, it’s not a bad looking game, but you wouldn’t call it a good looking game. However, that said the way the ships and structures look can leave you in awe at time. As does some of the sunsets and and vistas you’ll see as you go through.
Overall I have to say this game has single handedly changed my mind over survival games and now has me wanting to check out some others. What’s more, this game has a huge plus to it, the price, £14.99. The buy in for this game is so low! Especially when compared with some others in the genre.
Also the Dev’s are super active, both on the forums and in the patches. The game is well supported, both by the Dev’s and the community. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this game progresses in the future!