If you’re old enough to remember the arcade game Lunar Lander, this works on the same principle. You launch a rocket (with limited fuel) and fire the booster to adjust your velocity and vector to intercept the targets, using the gravity wells of asteroids to slingshot your way around.
Crashing into objects (or your own mothership!) destroys your rocket but you can launch new ones as many times as necessary to hit all the targets. Flares from the mothership help you to plot the initial trajectory your rocket will take so you can hit the first target without much trouble but you need to try and hit multiple targets per rocket because each one costs money and if your overall profit falls short you fail the mission.
You can view the level in impressive 3D by moving the camera angle but the play itself operates on a 2D plane. There are 4 camera modes, some are better than others depending on the level layout.
On completion of a level you get a printout of your stats, including colourful ribbons for exceptional performance. You’re graded Gold, Silver, Bronze or Blue (fail) and on the section overview (star system) each level (planet) glows at a different intensity for each grade, so it’s easy to see which ones to retry later.
Main menu is laid out in a cabin scene (the Crow’s Nest). Clicking desktop objects and monitors opens the menus for mission schedules, game settings, leaderboards etc.
E-manual: a huge library of documents relating to storyline, game mechanics, information about all the corporations and planets, mission logs and every other intricate detail of the game. Parts of it (eg. mission logs) are transcripts of the voiceovers. There’s hours of reading if you’re so inclined. I only skimmed a few items before I realised there were no clues or tips on how to tackle the difficult levels.
Graphics are not of the spectacular quality you’d see in AAA space games but nice 3D eye candy – Jupiter looks cool in section 7. You’re concentrating hard on the job at hand so fancy, detailed space scenes would either go completely unnoticed or at worst distract you from the gameplay.
Storyline which progresses with cutscenes as you complete the sections. I couldn’t tell you what it’s about because these things go in one ear and out the other with me, but it’s there if that’s important to you.
Good voice acting for storytelling and level commentary.
Generic atmospheric background music. Twice in the game an original song bursts out from the commentary. They must have hired professional musicians for these fabulous tunes, with proper instruments and vocals, not the usual synth garbage you tend to get in these games. I wish there was more of it.
At the start of the campaign you select from 10 corporations to work for, each provides a different bonus. I chose 15% larger target ping radius, others give you profit boosts, increased rocket power and suchlike. This all adds to the replay value.
The essential game mechanic doesn’t change, it’s always the same action of firing your boosters. This could be seen as a game weakness but it’s the level designs that produce the variety – new types of clouds are introduced at intervals and the asteroid configurations become ever more complex. The rich environment of audio, graphics and lore (if you can be bothered to explore it all) enhance the overall game experience.
Great hidden ending!
Fully integrated global leaderboards including individual rankings for each corporation.
In-game cloud support (not mentioned on store page) so you can continue your campaign on multiple devices.
Controller or keyboard/mouse options. Both equally effective.
Takes a while to load at startup but performance is smooth and solid, no problems.
I was drawn to this game mostly by the word ‘puzzle’ in the store page summary. It turns out there’s no real brainwork involved, it’s more about judgement and trial and error. This is not a criticism, it’s my fault for not studying the description more carefully. Just bear in mind that it’s not a puzzle game per se when making your purchase decision.
The zoom doesn’t go out far enough. In Overwatch (top-down) camera mode you can’t see the rocket and target on screen at the same time until you’re up close which doesn’t give you much time to fire your booster, especially if you’re moving fast. The other camera modes help to see into the distance (I discovered this only after I’d completed the entire game in Overwatch mode, skewing the camera to see ahead!) and there are also indicators on the rocket to show the direction of the targets but neither of these features helps to judge your burn as effectively as being able to zoom further out in Overwatch mode would. Hiding the setup panel on the right during rocket flight would be another obvious way to increase the screen real estate – this seems to be a programming oversight to me.
Rage-quit potential: levels are unlocked as you progress and they become increasingly challenging so it’s likely you’ll get stuck at some point with no difficulty setting to dial down. My nemesis was level 33 (Zoom Zoom) when the guidance flares disappeared.
It’s built with Unity so why no Linux? Come on guys, don’t make me work on my 100% achievements in this horrid Win thing!
Harder than you’d expect. By the 2nd section (out of 8) I was already having trouble completing some of the levels but it’s the type of game where your skills improve with experience so it’s a case of “getting over the hump”.
50 levels in the campaign which took me about 12 hours at a leisurely pace for a single (mostly low-grade) playthrough and there’s a lot of replay value. You can try to improve your profit and grades on each level, then start a fresh game with a different company/bonus, then tackle the global leaderboards. This is a game you can continue to play indefinitely. I’d say the midrange price tag is fully justified.
No trading cards yet but this is a new game so they may come later. 27 achievements including some you have to specifically strive for beyond the normal course of the campaign.
I was expecting a cerebral puzzle game but got something else instead. It was a pleasant surprise, I’m having a lot of fun and my skills are improving steadily. Thumbs up!
If you decide to buy G Prime please check out my Tips Guide.