October 10, 2021

Stellar? Not Quite, But Close - Stellar Warfare (Steam) Review

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Stellar? Not Quite, But Close - Stellar Warfare (Steam) Review

By Joel | October 10, 2021
Stellar? Not Quite, But Close -  Stellar Warfare (Steam) Review

If anyone would ask me what Stellar Warfare is about, I would tell them it's an interesting real-time strategy wave defense game about a colony of celestial survivors set adrift in deep space. The definition of 'Stellar' is defined as a relationship with the stars, and with that particular meaning weighing heavy on me the more involved and deeper I got into the gameplay.

Stellar Warfare, by developer Tense Game Studios, offers a tactical situation with logistic resource gathering and base building. From your main ship, you can deploy harvesters to gather goods that are needed to sustain and maintain your fleet. You'll also need to build power stations, refineries, factories, as well as habitats to help increase your population. There are dozens of units to build including offensive strike crafts, frigates, and defensive structures.

The base building, while robust, isn't overly complex or complicated; you select what you want, place them in the best position possible and let them do their thing. One neat feature is that you can discover blueprints from destroyed enemy ships or from abandoned structures that will allow you to design unique strike crafts, structures, and weapons.

These blueprints can be used to specifically create a fleet catered to your personal play style and with over 60 ships to build, 50 weapons, and 25 modules to find, I'm fairly certain you'll have a unique experience each and every time you play.

Stellar Warfare doesn't come with an extensive tutorial, at least not from what most RTS players are accustomed to. Instead, instructions for the game are laid out in contextual dialogue. From its onset, the game is a voyage of discovery and exploration, thanks to the fact that the manual or tutorial gives nothing away.

There are no in-depth explanations of the different alien life forms, discordant races, or mentions of the great battles in front of you; just a few details of chaos that has spread across the galaxies. There is, however, a brief prologue regarding The Light that seems to have been the cause of all this disarray. While this lack of information ensures a wealth of surprises for the story arc, it also guarantees, however, an unhealthy dose of frustration as you try to figure things out yourself.

But because the core of the gameplay consists of surviving wave after wave of enemy fleets attacking you from all sides, Stellar Warfare, I would surmise, doesn't need to bother with such details because the game's meaning involves much more than just space battles, showdowns, struggles, attacks, hyperspace journeys, and discovery.

We know, from our own history that our civilization has routinely attacked legions of people through conflicts large and small, for reasons as simple as ideology, religion, and territory. Stellar Warfare places those conflicts right in front of us and challenges its players to create their own stories and destinies.

Visually, Stellar Warfare is aesthetically balanced. The ships are well designed and yet simple enough to be PC friendly in large numbers without slowdowns. Bright explosions adorn the darkness of space, and distant nebulas, planets, and space debris cast their eerie glow against the illuminating backdrop.

The game has an almost hypnotic effect at times, especially when viewing it from the cinematography mode which is perfectly in sync with the action taking place. Again, the bright flashes are not for everyone, but for the space enthusiast, frustrated by the lack of space games, Stellar Warfare throws you into an alien universe rich with life and awash with atmosphere.

At times you'll feel hopelessly lost, at others you'll be captivated by the unfolding moments when you're near death only to persevere on the final attack wave. Its presentation is unique and its scope admirable. To be honest, Stellar Warfare is not an RTS triumph, not in the traditional sense, but it is a triumph of vision, special effects, and pragmatic programming.

Stellar Warfare is a game that owes itself more to the X Frontier series than to Homeworld. In my opening sentence, I mentioned the word 'stellar' weighing heavy on me, and I think it is because there is so much potential to be had here if the developers can focus on opening the story a bit more and improving certain parts of the gameplay.

Currently, there are only a handful of game modes available, but even the Wave Attack mode will challenge even the hardiest players. Is the game stellar? Potentially, yes. The game is still in Early Access which gives me hope that the final outcome will surpass all our expectations.


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