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The Federation Simulator from developer Massive Damage.
By Josh Malcolm
Publisher: Massive Damage
Developer: Massive Damage
Platforms: PC (R)
Release: 9th September 2016
Have you ever wanted to explore the final frontier with a fleet of powerful spaceships? Have you ever wanted to engage massive space monsters in epic space battles? If so, then you should probably play something else. Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander is an 8-bit strategy/RPG/tactical hybrid with base-building and crew management elements. While this sounds like a great recipe for a space exploration and civ-building game, the storytelling element actually has you trying to survive aboard an ancient space station with a skeleton crew and only a handful of raw officers and old ships.
Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander’s design draws inspirations from the X-COM series, old-school RPGs and tabletop games, which means that it isn’t for everyone. With that being said, its appeal is broad enough that most people should find something inside its plethora of features that they’ll enjoy. You take the place of the Terran Federation commander and you are in control of the Halcyon 6 starbase in the Federation’s darkest hours. You are tasked with defending your colonies and preventing the extinction of your race; not the most original story in the world, but it does it well nonetheless.
Halcyon 6’s main focus is on expanding the starbase, training your officers and keeping their ships in one piece. The officers of your fleet are mostly randomly generated and their abilities and stats can be re-rolled, making them unique every time. This, mixed with permadeath of your ships and officers, makes for an intense and strategic battle situation. The enemies are varied and the factions are all different, each with their own motives and opinions of your faction, meaning you could just as easily be shot as you could be given vital resources.
The storyline is set out at the start of Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander. However, it is not a linear storyline in the strictest sense of the word, with your approach to factions affecting their responses towards you. There is an overarching storyline to the game, so you are required to commit to certain actions that can feel slightly restrictive sometimes.
The base-building mechanic is the best place to look if you are after unrestricted freedom, as you have a variety of room types all with their own advantages. The rooms also have random enemies and other encounters that can pop up when you’re adventuring through the station with your officers, which is a great addition to the system and allows for a more in-depth story and a great little diversion from the standard dig, build, move system. The fleet system for your starships is also a great feature that allows you to play around with the setup of your fleet and which kind of ships you use. The system also allows you to swap out ships on the fly, allowing you to deploy a fleet for a specific situation as well as creating and deploying multiple fleets if rapid expansion is your playstyle.
The game is a relatively new addition to Steam and is not in early access, which is great to see for an indie title. So for the modest price tag of £14.99, it is well worth it.
Josh Malcolm studies American History at Manchester Met. He has a love for all games, Anime, and a particular fanaticism for Halo and Dark Souls. With a background in both game testing and competitive gaming, Josh considers himself to have a pedigree in all things digital.