Starchon is an amazing indie game from Freelance Games and was a joy to review. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started playing this game. I’m just glad I did start playing. On the first night I started this up, I had to stop playing because I needed to go to sleep. I sure as heck wasn’t done playing, and all the next day I kept thinking man I can’t wait to get back and finish that game.
So you’re probably wondering what was so good about it. The first thing to note is that it isn’t like other space shooters commonly found on XBLIGs. This isn’t some twin stick shooter and its not a scrolling shmup either. You battle in sectors that are big squares of space ships jump in and jump out of the sector, mostly they jump in if your there. You have your standard overhead view of the ships and fly around taking out the enemy Pigia ships. You lose if your ship, your battleship or whatever objective the particular mission has is destroyed. The controls take a little getting used to and may turn away a few people with the trial, and that is sad because once you get a handle on them its really quite comfortable. It sort of reminded me of playing a game on the SNES or Genesis.
Each mission is comprised of multiple sectors that you will be moving through. Some missions your battleship will jump you to the next sector on its own and you can’t stop it, other missions you have complete control of when and which sector you will jump into next. These are the missions that require a bit of strategy to beat. If you jump too far ahead enemy ships will be left behind and jump into battle with your starbase. That can be game over. So you have to clear the way and do it fast enough to take out the enemy starbase(s). Some missions have sectors that can be entered from multiple sectors this can be a little challenging since when you leave to go to one enemy starbase the other ones will keep sending enemies in behind you. Sometimes forcing you to go back to clean them up and prevent them from getting to your starbase.
There is more to it than that though. As you destroy the enemies you collect salvage points. These points can be used to research weapons, shields, engines, generators and even new ships for you to fly. These researched pieces can be equipped to your ships in numerous configurations to make your ship and your battleship the way you want it to be. I really liked this aspect. Now the danger is you will be doing your upgrading within missions not between them. You just have to dock on your battleship and upgrade away.
If your wondering what happens when you die, well you can just continue. You lose nothing except your high score. You have unlimited lives this way. You can also reply missions as well as stop playing and when you come back any mission you have started will remain unlocked and your ship upgrades will still be in place. I liked this since I couldn’t finish it in one sitting. It is a couple of hours worth of play I would say somewhere between 2 and 3 hours. Your replay value comes in going back into completed missions and getting a higher score for the scoreboard. Between the real time strategy aspects and the space shooter aspects the game offers a good mix of the two and is well worth playing for fans of either genre.
5 out of 5 without question.