As when I first wrote about the terrifyingly titled Human Extinction Simulator, I feel it is necessary to point out that the game wasn’t grown in the same lab vats as the likes of Pandemic and Plague Inc. In the Extinction Simulator, your role is to prevent humanity’s destruction by working out methods by which alien fleets can be defeated. The simulator takes the form of a turn-based tactical combat game and I’ve been playing an early beta version. Most of the current content takes the form of tutorial type missions but I still managed to fail humanity a few times. I am learning though and enjoying the school of hard alien knocks (not a Mass Effect Mills and Boon spin-off).
The combat is very much like encounters between naval ships of old, wheeling around in great turning circles for position and attempting to slam opponents with a broadside. Some ships, particularly the nippier squadrons of tiny fighters, are rigged for direct assaults but ensuring victory requires learning the weapons coverage of each individual vessel. Movement is important as well, of course, and each class of ship has a distinct turning arc and speed.
A well-designed interface means that the complexity is in the tactics rather than attempts to implement basic maneuvers. Clicking on a ship marks out the hexes it can attack or move to, and the potential consequences of any move are displayed in the form of stonking great exclamation marks. It’s a bit like a cross between Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol and Leviathan: Warships. It also has similarities with another game, as developer Dave Toulouse points out:
The first thing to know about HES is that it’s played on a hex grid and that each ship can move in very specific ways. The best way to think about it is Chess. Why does the knight move in L patterns? Because it does and that’s it. In HES it’s not as simplistic as that as I still keep some realistic notions. For example fighters are more maneuverable than cruisers but not all fighters can move the same way.
The theme is well-communicated, right down to the bleak planetary bombardment providing the backdrop to the menu, and the (relatively) close quarters combat is tense. Modding will be supported and the game is seeking votes on Greenlight, in preparation for release later this year.