When it comes to the genres, whether it be video gaming, books or film, they each have to possess the correct ingredients to make them work. After all, horrors need to be scary, adventures need to be exciting and science-fiction needs to be, well, science-fiction. However, within video gaming, there needs to be more elements to produce a successful game, series or franchise. The story has to engage, the mechanics have to feel right and there’s also the added genre of whether it is a first-person shooter, turn-based strategy or sim-like blast. It doesn’t even have to look the part, but it’s vitally essential to be able to play the part. And it’s in this premise that Spaceland excels as it launches a release onto the Nintendo Switch.
Developed by Tortuga Team and published through Ellada Games, this turn-based strategy game pays homage to the classical era of its genre, yet contains an abundance of other features to allow it stand on its own, with a quick-fire level of play, an importance on team-work and a general aesthetic that feels distinctly sci-fi. The story takes place on a remote planet upon which your space craft crash lands. Full of mystery and intrigue, you set off on an adventure to discover what the planet holds for you and find a way to repair your ship and blast off back into the voids of outer space. It may not sound like a wholly original plot, and in many ways it’s not, but the game more than makes up for this with some unique systems, dynamic weapons and an evolving story full of twists and turns.
From a world map screen, you plot a path through an alien installation that takes you to a variety of locations. Viewed from an isometric perspective, you follow a tried-and-tested template of movement around a grid as you investigate the base around you. Each action you can perform is colour-coded amongst the squares you can use per turn. For instance, blue markers are movement based, red markers are combat squares whilst orange ones denote an action that can be performed. You begin with a solitary survivor and an introductory level of investigation. You learn simple tasks such as movement, your first combat engagements and pull switches in order to open doors. Everything here is presented in a very pleasing style that is colourful, distinguishable and detailed.
As the game progresses, the levels become more expansive and intricate in their designs; often housing secret areas, more aliens and a variety of components to interact with. The deeper you delve into the base, the more characters you can unlock, bringing your overall party up to a maximum level of seven members; although your combat squad can only consist of four. Each member of your team houses a particular speciality, from the speedy scout to the tank-heavy soldier. It’s here where the level of interest comes to the fore, as it is vitally important to ensure all members work together by using their skill-sets to compliment each other; making selection an important process.
The game works superbly in a casual premise, with each bout, or investigation lasting only around ten to fifteen minutes per level. It’s quick-fire play-style focuses more on gunplay than deep strategy, but this makes for a more exciting game than usually associated with other titles within its genre. It holds some nice values within the sci-fi spectrum, such as futuristic weaponry, over twenty alien species, boss fights and for me, the best of all, finding an escape route after your primary objective has been completed; making these some of the best moments throughout the game and giving the game a true sci-fi feel.
Everything has been designed to produce an easy play-style and in making it an instantly accessible title. Menu selections, movement trajectories and decision making has been easily implemented and a growth system sees your team evolve in their skill sets and weapon proficiencies. There are also a number of other elements that need to be taken into account. First and foremost of these, is to ensure that each member of your team has enough ammo, as full magazines deplete as you use them, forcing you to restock at various points from ammo crates that lie within the base. Find yourself out of ammo, and its a mad, tense-ridden, dash to find the level exit.
There’s a nice level of fluidity to the game that gives it a nice flow in its capacity as a casual title. Its bite-sized levels of gameplay, pleasant graphical presentations and team-based mechanics produce a game that you can easily lose yourself in. This is particularly noticeable when it comes the games’ variety of boss fights, which produce some exciting and tense battles full of team-work, explosions and plenty of gun play. With a focus more on blasting than tactical play, each the level designs have been created with a distinct lack of cover or things to hide behind; making character acquisition and development an important asset within the game.
The story itself is presented through a series of stills and text narratives; all of which are nicely drawn and presented. However, the English translation of the text is riddled with errors, although not to a point where they are vague to understand their meanings. For the most part though, everything else within the game has been expertly done to produce an old-school turn-based game that holds a high level of charm in everything that it does. It’s also an ideal game for a quick-fix during your lunch break or for a more prolonged session during the cold wintry nights. Its also priced pretty fairly too, making it a game that demonstrates superb value for money.
Overall, Spaceland presents a sci-fi journey that is stellar in its production. Don’t be put off by its turn-based mechanics, as this is purely about blasting over slow-paced tactical decision making. It pays homage to the various genres that it represents and if you’re a fan of any of them, then there’s a high level of fun to be found within this game. It’s also another of those games that sits perfectly within the architecture of the Switch; something I have found that excels certain games far beyond their original platforms. If there’s one down-side to its style, it’s that seasoned vets of turn-based games or strategy titles may find it a little easy, aside from one or two levels, but for me, this made the game even more enjoyable as you progressed at a nice pace and also makes it an ideal entry point for gamers new to its style.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 8/10
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Replay Value - 8/10
User Review( votes)
Spaceland takes turn-based strategy back to its classical era, yet holds such a level of atmosphere, that you’ll simply breath its playability.