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Void Destroyer Review

By on April 15th, 2015 11:25 am

Into the void with Void Destroyer

Kickstarter has thrown up some games over the years from “bedroom” developers that 10 years ago we would never have seen. Void Destroyer is one of these games having been written solely by developer Iteration 11, aka Paul Zakrzewski. Paul has spent over 5 years making Void Destroyer in his spare time while graduating from college and working to support his dream. With some help from friends he has made along the way he has developed the game known as Void Destroyer.

If you imagine taking the best parts from the best space simulators over the years, then you have Void Destroyer. The game was on Steam Early Access and is now available for the reasonable price of $14.99/£10.99, a fraction of the price of similar games currently available, which puts it at a great advantage over its rivals.

But, taking the best parts from other games doesn’t always work in putting up a coherent product. So, has Void Destroyer pulled it off? Let’s find out.

Void Destroyer | Options screen

The game has a lengthy campaign that will last many hours and also an “instant action” option that allows you to jump into the action against the AI on several pre-generated maps that you unlock as you progress through the game. Replaying missions is also available which helps you practice and learn from your previous encounters.

You start the game being put through a brief tutorial covering the basics of the game as part of the opening mission. Further tutorials are available and I would advise you to complete all of them, so you can understand the mechanics of the game.

The initial look of the game reminded me of a 2000AD comic book style. By that I mean it looked like an animated comic book which I’ve never seen before in a space simulation game, and to be honest was a refreshing change as it helped set the mood for the adventure to follow, which was a linear style mission to mission affair set in the outer edges of the Oort Cloud (the edge of our solar system), where Mining Companies are mining the riches of the asteroids.

You start the proceedings by testing a prototype fighter, destroying combat drones and performing basic drills to get you used to the controls, until a “stargate” activates and the story begins to unfold. I won’t spoil the story for you of who the enemy is, etc. A number of enemy ships appear which are relatively easy to destroy. The AI pilots seem to have a good level of skill which makes your work a lot harder because you are wrestling to learn the new control system while battling AI pilots that aren’t holding back.

This initial “mission” has a terrifying difficult curve and at the time of writing this review only 10% of the players who had bought the game had completed it. But, once you’ve survived being thrown into the deep end you’ll find the difficulty levels out, and the thing becomes bearable.

The following mission introduces you to another of the games interesting systems, once you have helped destroy an insane amount of AI veteran fighters who are attacking the battleship “Wardrum”, that is. Without giving to much away, you take command of a crippled ship and are shown that you can control any of the ships’ turrets but also any of the support ships in your fleet from basic fighters to the capital ship itself. And a bit later in the game you can command your whole fleet from a tactical screen, which I’ll explain later.

Void Destroyer | "Homeworld" style tactical screen

The game isn’t just about blowing up the enemy and moving on though. You have to build a fleet which stays with you through the game using resources that build up over time from bases you also build while researching new ships and stations by assigning crew members to each project or activity.

Initially you’ll only be able to produce the “Bonnie” fighter, until you complete the research for the “Perez” class fighter and the shipyard. Building these leads onto bigger and better ships and stations which is all accessed through a “spacebar activated” tactical screen. Initially it is a bit confusing as to what you’re supposed to do on this screen but take your time and you’ll get it. Also in the tactical screen you’ll control your fleets across the map sending ships out in fleets to destroy the enemy or to protect your stations and facilities. All this is controlled by your mouse which also controls your ship. The keyboard has an option to map what keys do what.

As you take your fleet from mission to mission you begin to realise that the large support vessel the enemy just destroyed could affect your future progression in the game as once it’s gone it’s gone and the next mission won’t compensate because you have a smaller force. In fact, it will throw bigger and stronger enemy forces at you, so I suggest constant saving of the game and make sure you research every item available before triggering the next mission to avoid a situation where you are in a no win scenario against a superior enemy force.

Another interesting feature is the ability to be able to “pilot” any ship in your fleet at the press of a key. Fancy being a fighter pilot zipping around the map? Or, control the battleship at the head of your fleet ? Go for it! This feature adds good replay value to the game which is extremely welcome these days.

Void Destroyer | The "borderlands" style graphics

The graphics for Void Destroyer where originally being created by an artist called Andrew Roals, but he unfortunately died while designing the artwork for the game. Our condolences to his friends and family. Paul, the developer, got help to complete the visuals from Andrews’ friends and colleagues in a style I described earlier as comic book, which is a welcome relief to the usual trying too hard to look real graphics of other space simulations, adding to its character.

In the heat of battle you can feel like you’re in an episode of Battlestar Galactica with the amount of weapons fire shooting across the screen, which at first is quite confusing and disorientating but you very soon become used to it. The ship designs you see flying around are unique and help create a feeling that Void Destroyer is creating its own lore for the basis of future adventures in the universe.

You’ll see the engines firing as larger ships move around the battlefield, and streaks of light coming from fighters as they zip around the larger ships engaged in dogfights. This adds to the intensity of the battlefield and helps suck you into the game.

The tactical screen for issuing fleet commands, researching and building your fleet follows the comic book style with debris floating in the map. There’s also smaller scale versions of your ships moving around the mission area if you wish to play the game as a fleet commander rather than dogfighting your way around the battlefield. 

The audio is minimal in the style of Battlestar Galactica (the new version), and by that I mean gun fire is quiet because sound doesn’t travel in space. It’s a nice effect that helps build the atmosphere and sets the scene nicely. Void Destroyer does have a soundtrack, which is good. It doesn’t grab you and pull you in, but I think that’s a good thing in this case as the soundtrack is meant to be background music so you can feel the atmosphere of the gun fire and thrusters firing.

Void Destroyer | Good lighting effects create a 3D graphical experience

Conclusion

The one-man studio iteration 11 provides you with the extensive space battles that you crave from a tactical space simulation, while also allowing you to control resource management, research and ship building. You want to dogfight? Want to be a pilot? Gunner? Captain of a star cruiser, or maybe even a fleet commander? Void Destroyer allows you to fill any of the roles as you see fit which allows for great fun and replayability.

Did the blend of various genres melded together worked? I will say yes. Paul has got the balance of each perfect so you feel the game flows well from space combat elements to strategy. Yes, the camera isn’t great, sound is serviceable for the atmosphere that the game is trying to create, and the level of difficulty varies between very brutal to downright torture. Nevertheless, Void Destroyer fills the gap in the 3D tactical space simulator market nicely and should give you many hours of enjoyment.

The big question: “Should you buy Void Destroyer?” So long as the price doesn’t increase from its $14.99/£10.99 original pricing, yes, you’ll enjoy the hours of campaign gameplay available. Or, if you fancy a quick skirmish against the AI, this game should satisfy your needs quite well, as well. No multiplayer is available, which is understandable due to the developer being a solo guy, but that’s fine because the game itself is enjoyable without it.

Void Destroyer

Void Destroyer (PC)

Available at: GamersGate or Steam.

Space Sector score:
7.0/10
good
The Good:
– Comic book graphics are quirky and really add to the enjoyment
– Enjoyable and lengthy campaign for only $14.99/£10.99
– A “conglomerate” of the best parts of your favourite space sims of all time
The Bad:
– Camera isn’t great at following the action
– Soundtrack is average
– Initial difficulty curve off putting

Andy Monks, also known as andyM here on SpaceSector, first started getting into gaming when he was 5 years old playing games like Pong and Pole Position on the Atari 2600. He then progressed onto the Commodore 64 playing classics like Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy. His real love for games came when he was bought his first PC with the game Theme Park, this opened the doors to the world of games like Command & Conquer, Wing Commander and Civilization. Andy has a passion for PC, XBOX & PlayStation games and enjoys grand strategy, management, 4X and RPGs. He looks forward to writing for Space Sector in the future and hopes his work is enjoyed by you all. See all of Andy’s posts here.

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8 Comments


  1. Melkor says:

    Backed it on Kickstarter and never regret. Awesome game, awesome author.

  2. chuki792 says:

    I Bought this a while ago, I think during the Christmas sale but never even played it!!! Seeing this now just reminded me and made me smile, I’ll be playing this while waiting for Stardrive 2 to iron out the bugs (yeah, I bought it on launch day, shoot me! ;-) ).

    PS, SD2 is actually a massive improvement on SD1, my decision to forgive and forget that one has paid off and I’m loving it so far!

  3. chaosavy says:

    Thanks for the review Andy, a good and balanced write up.

    One thing I want to note (I’m the dev) – is that Void Destroyer has difficulty options (added as a result of player feedback) – if the “the enemy won’t make it easy” aspect gets too frustrating.

    And Melkor + chuki792 – thanks for supporting the project. I’m planning to release a free “Mini Sandbox” DLC (a preview of Void Destroyer 2 – which is in its early stages) in a month – more or less.

  4. alienjd says:

    I picked this up when it launched. It’s a great game. I actually picked it up because of the cool comic like graphics and because I wanted a space ship game that didn’t need a joystick. It’s very challenging but not in an unfair way.

    Can’t wait to try out the mini sandbox DLC.

  5. Mark says:

    Sounds interesting, although I would be a lot more excited if the phrase “cool comic-like graphics” were replaced with “Cool space-realistic graphics”. The whole comic thing does absolutely nothing for me except make my suspension of disbelief job harder.

    • Mark says:

      I take back my comment about the comicy graphics, its nowhere near as distracting as I thought and not immersion breaking at all.

  6. Jeff P says:

    I realize Void Destroyer isn’t a 4X, but a lot of space-themed games have shown up on Steam lately, so VD has quite a bit of competition for space-gaming dollars.

    I’m still on the fence about VD because of the recent wealth of choices, but the “comic book” graphics (I think the usual term is cell-shaded graphics) are fine with me. I’m a big fan of the Borderlands series of games, and once you get use to the style, frame-rates seem higher with less clipping and fewer artifacts than games using more realistic renderings.

  7. Jodet says:

    So is this a space-sim like ‘X-Wing’ or an RTS style sim like ‘Homeworld’?

    How much of this game is ‘flying’ a spaceship? Can you use a joystick?

    These are pretty basic questions….


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