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Planet Express Simulator: Cosmo-Nautica

Cosmo-Nautica is Elite by way of The Sims. No, scratch that. Apart from having toilet and food needs, the crew of my vessel have more in common with Redshirt’s sci-fi caricatures than Maxis’ consumer-dolls. I’ve had a brief dabble with an early build of the Stuttgart-built indie game, and it’s exactly what the ‘Elite meets life sim’ beermat description suggests. The player’s ship is a rustbucket the size of a large townhouse and various rooms can be bolted onto its empty compartments. Living quarters, vending machines, cargo bays, weapons, engines…toilets. At present, there’s not much to do beyond trading basic commodities, but ground missions and enhanced combat are due before release. Take a look.

That didn’t really help, did it?

From the little I’ve played, Cosmo-Nautica appears to have a solid enough foundation. There are choices to be made in the placement of facilities on the ship. Positioning affects the crew’s happiness and damage control during combat, so there’s a little of FTL mixed into the broth along with the rest.

Hopefully there will be plenty to do. When trading involves clicking on planets within a procedurally generated galaxy, buying cargo and then clicking somewhere else to sell it – well, that’s not particularly engaging. There will be pirate attacks every now and then – pirates are a given – but there are hints of yet another space game in the mix as well. The goal in Cosmo-Nautica isn’t to amass a fortune but to advance science, by collecting research points. That reminds me of Infinite Space, a personal favourite with a long-awaited sequel in development.

If Cosmo-Nautica has enough weird and wonderful encounters in the vastness of its space, the apparent simplicity of the trading, crew management and combat could be a sturdy enough foundation to build on. I shall be watching.

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Adam Smith

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