Station Vacations: The Spatials

The Spatials [official site] is a space station management sim with squad-based combat and looting. Now, even though I’m usually an advocate of squad-based combat and looting, I’d much rather be poring over construction plans and monitoring the cravings of my crew and any visitors who happen to pop in for tea and biscuits. Thankfully, The Spatials’ combat sections are in the form of away missions rather than taking place on your station, which means they won’t interrupt your managerial musings. The game is out now and I spent an hour with it this morning.

A quick set of tutorials introduces the basic concepts. As far as station construction is concerned, it’s all remarkably simple – place corridors, place rooms, add items to rooms. In the early stages, those rooms contain sleeping quarters and warehouse space. Later, you’ll be splitting your resources between manufacturing facilities and tourist facilities, to please visitors. Setting up a thriving station seems fairly simple – a case of monitoring supply and demand, while maintaining an efficient layout – and I’m not sure there’ll be much of a challenge.

I’m not sure the game is supposed to be particularly challenging though. Its a sedate thing that aims for a leisurely pace rather than applying pressure, and sometimes that’s exactly what I want.

The combat is fairly laid-back as well. Every time you start a new game, The Spatials creates a randomised galaxy and you’ll be able to send squads to salvage resources from many of the planets that unlock as you progress through the systems. Levelling up crew members is a fairly in-depth process, with a few jobs/classes to select from, and a range of skills to develop. Combat itself is real-time but I’ve found it stress-free.

That might change later on but, in the early stages at least, this is the kind of game that happily engages my brain but doesn’t test my patience. It might also fail to engage my interest in the long-term but I’m already making plans for a prolonged visit this weekend.

From this site

11 Comments

  1. egattocs says:

    Looks like it’s worth a try. Only £7.49 on Steam until Monday too… very tempting!

    • DrManhatten says:

      It was £6.99 on Humble a few days back might still be anything that reduces Gabe fat bank account can only be a good thing.

  2. SgtStens says:

    Sooo….Startopia-lite with a little X-Com (not XCOM) thrown in? Color me intrigued. I hope this gets a WIT.

    • eggy toast says:

      More like crossed with a lower chaos Trek-like Syndicate, it’s real time and you point your dudes and things to interact with and they pathfind and shoot.

      It’s quite good but I’m still knees deep in Pillars of Eternity so I haven’t played it for as long as I would otherwise.

  3. aunshi says:

    Gonna wait to see how Astrobase Command fairs when it come out before making a move on this. Similar concept but I feel possibly greater depth.

  4. AngoraFish says:

    this is the kind of game that happily engages my brain but doesn’t test my patience.

    Sold.

  5. vorador says:

    I always like to have some game that i can play when i’m not on the mood for a challenge. And this one sounds exactly like it.

    Aaand bought.

    • vorador says:

      After playing for a few hours, i can only say i wish it had more depth to it, but there’s plenty to do in the game.

  6. Voqar says:

    It’s a fun little game. The “squad based combat” is pretty simplistic but still enjoyable. The base building is pretty cool with a couple of different things to manage (housing your little dudes, attracting and providing services for visitors to get revenue, managing crew between missions and other duties).

    I bought a while back and haven’t played the latest versions which changed the combat progression a bit. It used to be pretty hard at times and I would imagine it still is. Each planet has a mission you can do and when you do it, it unlocks another difficulty for it. Doing the harder difficulty missions gives better loot and unlocks the ability to extract larger amounts of resources. The hardest tier was and probably still is very brutal.

    Falcon (who is generally entertaining) has a bunch of videos for it but they’re slightly out of date vs the latest versions of the game: link to youtube.com

  7. geldonyetich says:

    I gave The Spatials a pretty solid shakedown on its Steam release. I agree with what Smith is saying here: it is a pretty laid back game about exploring a randomized galaxy while expanding your Dwarf Fortress-like space station at home.

    It is sort of interesting in that there’s four major parts to it, and they stay active and simulated even when you are in other parts of the game:

    1. The space station building part. Dwarf Fortress but (of course) much simpler. It is fairly crude and simple compared to alternatives such as Gnomoria or even DoubleFine’s abortive attempts. I am particularly disappointed about how officers choose to address their need only sporadically (ignoring an empty thirst bar, for example) and I have been assured this is working as intended.

    2. The universe-exploring part. Send away-teams of your five favorite officers (one for each class) out to explore planets, killing pirates (and little else), in order to unlock regular infusions of resources for your station. The gameplay is highly reminiscent of that old game that Tiny Troopers was clearly inspired by, but The Spatials has a pretty solid and deep implementation of that simple gameplay, and there’s no permadeath.

    3. The autonomous mission-assigning part. You can buy contracts to send groups of three of your officers off to recover loot, resources, and experience points. There’s a straight up percentage chance of success and these missions resolve in real time, off-screen.

    4. The officer managing part. This is primarily where you assign recovered loot to the give members of your away team, and nobody else, since the other officers don’t need to be upgraded. However, you can also use this screen to browse the level and profession of your hired officers and see what their current mood and vitals (needs) are at.

    If the goal of a game is to occupy the mind in an entertaining manner, The Spatials is an overwhelming success. But this core gamer sort of wishes there was a bit more depth to it, and that Weird and Wry would have taken the idea of station building a bit more seriously – it communicates something very bad to me that they would give us a whole game about satisfying vitals and then have the officer AI treat the vitals like they are not that important.

    • geldonyetich says:

      The gameplay is highly reminiscent of that old game that Tiny Troopers was clearly inspired by

      Cannon fodder, that’s the game.