Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander – PC Review – by BoxCatHero

Draul
Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander – PC Review – by BoxCatHero of We Touch Games
Genre: Indie, RPG, Simulation, Strategy, Early Access
Developer: Massive Damage, Inc. Publisher: Massive Damage, Inc.
Release Date: Apr 20, 2016

Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander is a rogue-like space rpg with many features including base building. From Massive Damage, INC, it is currently available for Early Access on PC/MAC with plans to release fully on other platforms. Upon researching the company and development of the game before I started playing it for review, the myriad of things they drew inspiration from is outstanding. The devs were inspired by games such as the Civilization Series, Master of Orion, XCOM, and FTL to just name a few. I can see the inspiration from all of them in the game to. It has the graphics of FTL, the brutality that XCOM can give you, and the building and research of the Civ series. In this review I will not cover any of the story of the game other then my thoughts on it. So it will be about the mechanics and features of the game.

With the introduction over, let’s get into the nitty gritty of the game, and talk about what makes the game tick. First thing in the tutorial that is thrown at you is the selection of your first officer. You can choose from three different types, each with a unique way their skills work. The types are Science, Tactical, and Engineering. Tactical is your warship type officer capable of doing the most damage. Science, however, is significantly lower on damage output but has useful abilities that heal damage or even prevent it. Engineering, to me, was like a cross between the two, having more damage output than Science, but not as powerful at healing. Each class of officer and ship has abilities that inflict status ailments or exploit said ailments if the target has them. At the end of the tutorial you are given the chance to select a second officer. Side note before we move on is that there are several resources in the game and we will discuss how to get them later. They are Crew, Dark Matter, and Materials.

The combat is all turned based based and can be done in one of two ways: in control of the ship or in control of the officer (hereby referred to as Embarking). Each way of combat has a different skill set that is used. The ship combat uses the skills of the ship, which is supplemented with whatever skills the officers has learned upon leveling up. The Embarking combat using personal skills of the officers involved, plus any crew members that fill in if not all the officer spots are filled in. That being said, there are three spots available to a fleet or group of ships. The same thing seems to be for Embarking encounters, however I have only encountered one of these in the six hours currently I have played in the game. This is mainly probably due to the fact if my fleet is wiped out I restarted completely, instead of continuing and trying to recover from it.

Next major thing about the game is the base management, and that can be broken down into several parts; Researching, room building/clearing, ship construction, and officer/ship management. With the research tree you can pick and choose where you go in it, however it has an increasing cost as you go further into a tree. Researching costs Materials and Dark Matter to unlock sections of the tree. Now as far as what you can unlock in the tree is new ships, bonuses for ships, new rooms for the station, and research generation bonuses to name a few. Let’s move to room construction and clearing. At the beginning of the game you have a few rooms already built, but the majority of the station needs to be cleared out before you can build a room.

To do so you need to assign an officer to clear out the room. It usually takes three in game days for it to be cleared, during which you can have an Embarking encounter. After successfully clearing it out, you can then build in the room at the cost of Materials, and most rooms also have a power requirement. It seems to take about 4 days in game to build most the rooms. With ship construction, you can build ships on a 3 day wait period for the cost of Crew and Dark Matter. I have yet to unlock the the ability to build two ships at a time in researching, so I have no idea if they cost something extra. Ship management is very simple; ship repair, reassignment of officers, and renaming them. This is all done by clicking on them in the list. Officer management is almost non existent as only thing you can do is view their stats or assign them to a ship.

Now comes where you you will be spending most your time, the starmap screen. On here you can choose to send out your fleet of ships to attack your enemies, go to various planets to get resources, and where you can simply pass the in-game time. Now as I just mentioned you go to various planets to get resources and their are four types. There is Fuel (which you need to travel the starmap), Materiels, Dark Matter, and Crew. Each planet has a max they can hold and produce per in-game day. There is also an option to evacuate planets to gain extra crew at the cost of the production of the planet. Another point I need to raise about the planets is that some of the planets are already in ruins, and those that aren’t can be destroyed by your enemies if you do not answer the distress call in a timely manner by attacking what’s attacking them.

In each playthrough the planets you have access to for resources are randomized, and are in different places each game within your area. As I said you can also attack your enemies, but you can do it before they attack you by heading to their portal inside your domain, or their area of the star map.

Lets now move onto the graphics and audio before I give my thoughts on the game features and the game as a whole. The backdrop for the starmap and combat are pretty much the same, a black emptiness with stars and galaxies and what appears to be a phantom black hole on the starmap. The ship designs do make them look like possible battleships and such from the future, and when they take damage while in battle they corrode and break on their hull. The rest of the graphics, to be honest, other then the ships and their animations felt a bit lacking but will cover that more in the closing. With the audio, however, the music has a nice futuristic sound, and the sound effects when in battle and so on fit their actions.

The game is not a bad game, but it does need some love and growth to become great. With the research tree, the cost of things seem to be out of balance with the lower tier to higher tier research, and it seems way too daunting. The graphics are okish, but could use some more love and polishing. Only thing I think they have perfected graphics-wise is the ships and their animations, and the way the base looks when you’re building rooms. However, it seems there is way way too much area to build in the base. Maybe cutting the area in half would give it a more reasonable feel.

Also, I believe the audio is perfect as is, but could use a bit more variety in the background music as it may get stale for some. Combat early on seems to be a lot more random than not early to mid game. I don’t know if this is because I am just getting the butt end of the rng stick or it’s intended. However, I feel it may be the former instead of the latter. Overall the game shows great promise and can be well worth the price tag if they polish it up during their early access phase . 

Pros:

  • Influenced by great game series in the right ways
  • Great music and sound effects
  • Great ship designs and animations

Cons:

  • Graphics overall could use some work
  • Some features need rebalancing
  • As is, the game feels daunting and isn’t the light feeling it seems to want to portray

BoxCatHero gives Halcyon 6 a Drastik Measure 6 out of 10 (60)

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