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How Simple Can a Space Strategy Game Be? Solstice – First Impressions

By on March 1st, 2012 12:23 pm

I stumbled into Solstice some weeks ago in moddb. The game was officially released in November 29, 2011. Solstice is a 3D real-time space strategy game for the Android market (although there is also a free version available for Windows and another for OSX) developed by Deepseaweed, an independent game developer. The objective in Solstice is to colonize, and hold, as many planets as possible in a randomly generated star system with very simple mechanics and fast gameplay sessions. Looks suitable for a casual mobile gaming experience alright.

I played a few games and couldn’t be left wondering: “How simple can a space strategy game be?”. Well, Solstice seems to be one good candidate for this premise. You colonize planets, preferably blue ones to yellow or orange (because they produce more ships), attack other spaceships and try to keep as many planets possible when time is up. There are no distinct spaceship types to build, no space stations to manage, no techs to research, no formations, nothing more than 3 different planet types, 1 type of ship to build, you and your decisions. You do your best to keep your planets healthy, move your ships around, destroy enemy bombers and when time is up you’re presented with a report containing several statistics of your game.

At first I hated the experience because I just couldn’t get the hang of the controls. Switching between a camera and selection mode was very confusing at first. After a couple more games I could start enjoying playing a little more but I couldn’t keep myself interested in playing for long. I’m almost sure Solstice will play much better in your Android device than Windows (the version I tried). In Windows the controls are just too cumbersome to manage.

The game’s strongest point is its simplicity, in a way you can experience a sort of elegance at times, the sounds are very cool by the way. But, there are many other less favorable aspects in the game. First of all I keep losing sight of my ships, it’s difficult to see them in the map and there’s no easy way to keep track of them all. Then, the zooming in/out is very slow. I hope that in the Android version that’s not the case. There are some camera problems too. When you click an object and you do full zoom-in it doesn’t center in the object. Navigation is hard (in Windows at least). Graphics are very basic, there are no textures or detailed rendering or anything like that, just plain solid models for planets and ships.

Solstice is a very cheap and simple game to play, and if you can overcome the control issues it seems like a little fun game for a casual space gaming experience. I hope that it plays much better in your Android device. In Windows it’s just not doable.

You can buy Solstice in the Android market or in the amazonappstore for Android. Or you can download it for free for Windows here and OSX here.

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Post category: Game First Impressions, Game Previews