Iceberg Interactive has sent me a copy of new indie developer Blind Mind Studio’s first game Star Ruler (shipping version v220.127.116.11). Iceberg Interactive did a nice job with Star Ruler’s packaging with some great cover art and explanation of the game features on the back. Inside it comes of course with the game, a nicely written manual and a poster. I usually don’t play 4x style games that much personally, but I have to admit I found Star Ruler’s tutorial to be very helpful in that it was well scripted and went over all the controls, ship design and construction, combat, planet mechanics, research and diplomacy. So by the end of the tutorial I thought I was capable enough to start playing the game.
One thing that I did notice, was that there was no campaign/story mode in Star Ruler which was a bit of a let down for me, but it isn’t a deal breaker. Game setup has a series of controls in which you can adjust various game play options. Setting up your race is easy and you have some racial options to set if you choose to enhance or challenge your in-game experience. When I started playing Star Ruler I selected a galaxy with a 100+ systems and just thought that would take me forever to play so I picked a 25 system galaxy against 3 AI opponents and that game seemed a bit more manageable. Star Ruler’s galaxy is procedurally generated so you shouldn’t play the same setup twice unless you want to because there is a ‘seed’ value that you can insert and I take it that if you supply the same number that you could play the same level design over.
When you start the game you get one planet and you are supposed to grow your empire from there. So my planet construction began and I created some scout and colony ships sending them off to scout systems and colonize the other planets in my local system. One thing about planets is that you can focus every planets production output (ie: food, metal, electronics, goods, science, etc..). Depending on what you construct you can start to move resources from planet to planet. While doing all of this you should also be constructing your fleet because all of these assets need protection and it always helps to have some early warning about any races snooping around. During this process you are working with Star Ruler’s interface, which I think is very informative and easy to use and understand. In this style of game the interface is very important because you have a lot of things to keep track of and a helpful and easy interface is crucial I think to your success.
One thing you have to remember when you are playing Star Ruler is that it is a real-time strategy game and unless the game is paused the AI is moving and growing stronger so the longer you take looking at the star map, informational displays, designing ships and plotting routes the more the AI is gaining on you or surpassing you. One good thing is that there is a lot of automation in the game when it comes to planet management and other tasks to help you concentrate more on strategy and fleet building.
Here is a few Pros/Cons I have come up with after my game sessions with Star Ruler:
- All matches are procedurally generated so there is plenty of re-playability
- Lots of AI options
- The tutorial (in my opinion) was well done and does help a newb grasp the concept and controls fairly easily
- Galaxy/System graphics were decent
- Mod support
- Ship loadout and blueprint system, almost another game in itself
- Music score gave the game a good feeling and felt right when you were playing
- No story/campaign mode
- When your zoomed in on the combat, the visual effects were not that great
- I thought the research page was a little confusing at times
- Would have liked to see more ship model types
I have had a fun time playing Star Ruler the past few days in which some of my missions ended in victory and others in bitter defeat and all the while I was learning something new or trying out new tactics. Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to play in any multi-player matches at all, but you can play in co-op, team and free for all matches with human players and AI players. Star Ruler is a definitely a game that can entertain you for many weeks to months because of the re-playability of the procedurally generated galaxy and the mods that are being produced by the community members.
Check out the trailer below:
Star Ruler has come a long way from the early demos I played back in 2010 and it is definitely great to see it surpass the v1.0 release. This is why indie developers like Blind Mind Studios are so great they put out roughly 25 different patches to get to the v1.0 release and you don’t see that type of support usually in the big name developers so hats off to you. On what I would grade my experiences with Star Ruler, I would give them a 79-80%. Only things that brought the ranking down for me was a lack of storyline (my preference really) and when you play the large galaxy games they seem (to me) overwhelming in scope and complexity. But the good thing for the hardcore fans of RTS 4x games is that this game is for you.