Spacebase Startopia for PC review: A mech of a time with some very needy aliens

A struggle to find balance and peace among the stars.

Spacebase Startopia Crab Boss Thing
(Image: © Windows Central)

Spacebase Startopia, a city sim - resource management RTS game developed by Realmforge Studios and published by Kalypso Media aims to reinvigorate the twenty-year-old title with a modern entry. The original game, Startopia, is a critically acclaimed title that launched back in June of 2001. If you have played games such as Surviving mars, any of the Anno games from Ubisoft, or any other resource-based city sim management game for that matter, you'll be quite familiar with how Spacebase Startopia plays out.

One of the unique aspects of the game is having to manage three different decks of the ship that all require unique needs. One focusing on the core structures of the base, another focusing on entertainment and relaxation for the citizens, and a third one on obtaining resources. Oh, and there is also a real-time strategy aspect to the game as well, where you have to defend your base from pirates, nasty bugs, and other players and bots if you so wish.

Spacebase Startopia also provides multiple modes to experience the game. You can play through the campaign either solo or through co-op, run a few custom matches through the free play mode, or go head to head against others players in multiplayer.

Spacebase Startopia: What's good

Spacebase Startopia Disco

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Spacebase Startopia, a place where you can visit an alien cat cafe, go for a dance on the disco floor, and also send out some mech to destroy your enemies while your drones police the station for criminals. It is a fun, not-so-serious game that provides a meaningful city-sim experience combined with resource management and real-time strategy elements. It's great booting up to the main menu to see all the options as to which you can play this game. Single-player, co-op, multiplayer, campaign, co-op campaign, and even free play. Out of all the game modes though, the most enjoyable is free play and the campaign.

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CategorySpacebase Startopia
TitleSpacebase Startopia
DeveloperRealmforge Studios
PublisherKalypso Media
GenreCity Sim Resource Management RTS
Minimum RequirementsWindows 10 PC
Game Size10GB
Play Time40.2 hours
Launch Price$XXX

Spacebase Startopia does a good job of introducing how the game plays and teaching the mechanics to the player. You are provided with a quick three mission tutorial, and the Campaign, which plays out like a very long and advanced tutorial system. Normally this could be quite boring, as most of the time you want a good story experience provided. With the option to choose your own A.I. voice though (specifically G.L.a.D.O.S, the A.I. voice from Portal 2), the game can become much more enjoyable and for some, tolerable.

Your space station has numerous different types of aliens that love to stop by for a visit, all requiring specific needs that have to be met to keep them happy there. Although for some reason, most of them enjoy being put into forced paid labour by some mysterious all mighty being only minutes after they arrive at the station. You gotta make a living though, right? And what better way to suddenly be employed by some psychopath hell-bent on creating a self-sustaining space base by also eliminating any threats that may stand in the way on board! Let us not forget the A.I. that is supposedly helping you, yet is obviously just expanding their space base empire to dominate the galaxy with... uhh, eco-friendly and self-sustaining space stations.

All that aside, Spacebase Startopia does a great job making sure you are always staying busy. The constant checking of the three decks can seem a little irritating, but in most games there comes a few moments where you tend to just sit there and idle for a while until the next big thing happens. This isn't the case here. No matter what, there is always something to do to progress forward or something that needs to be maintained to keep your aliens happy. Let's be honest though, a quick visit to the space cat cafe is probably the best way to lift anyone's spirits.

No matter what, there is always something to do to progress forward or something that needs to be maintained to keep your aliens happy.

You could also spend some time down on the resource deck, where you can customize the different types of environmental biomes for plants to grow in. This is a necessary part of the game, so you can properly manage and balance out exactly what crafting materials and resources are brought and transported around the ship, as well as for your citizen's own well-being. The resource deck is probably one of the more enjoyable areas of the game. You are able to create some really neat patterns in the terrain, and manipulate it to make it look the way you want it to.

Spacebase Startopia: What's not good

Spacebase Startopia Rts Gameplay

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

One of the biggest issues encountered while playing Spacebase Startopia is motion sickness. As weird as that may sound for a city sim game, it can be quite prominent sometimes. The reason why is how the ship itself is designed, a giant floating ring. I personally suffer from extreme motion sickness to the point where I can't look at a phone or a book in motion longer than ten seconds without becoming so nauseated I feel like I may get sick. Every game had to be paused shortly after the start so I could walk away for a short bit and re-orientate myself to continue playing. After some time away and adjusting to the camera, gameplay could commence.

There is an option to help mitigate this in-game, though it doesn't seem to change anything notable. Add in odd camera angles and the round shape of the ship, it can be a struggle to play. The ring shape of the ship and restricting the camera to the ceiling of the ring instead of allowing a higher overview will be one of the biggest causes of motion sickness in Spacebase Startopia. Considering you are constantly jumping around the ship, managing three different decks all with specific needs while at the same time building troops for the RTS gameplay can become overwhelming.

The real-time strategy aspect of Spacebase Startopia itself is also quite bland. There is very little to it, to the point where it could simply just not exist. You can only build three different types of mechs, and a simple drone that polices your station and helps out in combat. Sure, you can go into the research tree and upgrade them, but that really doesn't do a whole lot sometimes. It's obvious that each specific mech is designed to counter a specific type of enemy, but the artillery mech pretty much trounces them all. You can win a game if that is the only mech you built.

Spacebase Startopia: Should you play it?

Spacebase Startopia Mech Construction

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Spacebase Startopia is a game that will satisfy any city-sim fan if they are willing to stick to single-player or simple co-op, or you are looking to fill that nostalgic need. Considering the original version of this game is twenty years old (where did the time go!?) Spacebase Startopia fits right in as a modern city-sim with this revitalization from developers Realmforge Studios. It's certainly not one of the best PC games you'll play. It's also not the greatest city-sim resource management type game that also has RTS elements, but it's not the worst either. There are enough different ways to play the game that anyone can find an area of the game that they can enjoy.

Jared Eden