House Of The Dying Sun Blasts Off

    There is a space fight up on Steam
    They call the Dying Sun
    It’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
    And god, I know Adam’s one

“Everything looks and feels as good as I’d expect from a big studio release, but in reality this is a game doing a lot with a lot, at least when it comes to the combat,” he said after playing House of the Dying Sun [official site] when it hit Steam Early Access in June. If you rathered waiting for the finished game, hey: HotDS has hit version 1.0, and properly launched overnight.

House of the Dying Sun, to briefly recap, is a space shooter about hunting the lords who betrayed your dying empire. Across a string of campaign scenarios, you pit your fleet against theirs, hopping into the cockpit of an interceptor while issuing orders to your pals. You earn upgrades across the campaign and… it all looks very pretty:

Over those five months on Early Access, Marauder Interactive boshed in a daily challenge mode with procedurally-generated waves of enemies, improved the AI, tweaked balance, fixed bugs, and so on.

This week’s v1.0 update has brought a new difficulty mode, Dragon Difficulty, where you only ever get fighters – no capital ships. Marauder say it “tests your interceptor piloting to the fullest. You will be required to truly understand your loadout, your enemies’ loadouts, and the parameters of the mission.” Also new with Dragon are two electronic warfare ships: warp-jamming interdictors and weapon-jamming frigates.

House of the Dying Sun is £13.49/17,99€/$17.99 on Steam. It does support Vive and Rift cybergoggles too, if you have a pair of goggs and think you can stomach space combat. But no, HOTAS gear is not officially supported; it may work but the game’s made for gamepads or keyboard and mouse. Do read what Adam made of the initial Early Access version, as he did have some reservations and I’m not sure they’re all resolved.


  1. amcathlan says:

    No joy/HOTAS, no dice. Can’t imagine they won’t add it eventually though.

    • KillahMate says:

      HOTAS sort of does work, but it’s not directly supported. And by all accounts it never will be – I’d say the developers consider this to be closer to Colony Wars than, say, TIE Fighter, and the game pad is very much their recommended controller type.

    • bovine3dom says:

      It’s not that sort of game. It’s very arcadey. I’m not sure I ever made use of the analogue throttle.

      It’s absolutely fantastic and by far the best game I’ve played on the Vive.

      • Scythe says:

        I agree. I’ve got a HOTAS, pedals, head tracking, etc, for DCS flight sims. HotDS is made for a gamepad. It just feels right.

        • Det. Bullock says:

          Classic linear spacesims never had DCS level complexity apart perhaps indipendence war.

          • Scythe says:

            I’ve still got I-War 2 on my shelf. Many fond memories. I doubt it would hold up to scrutiny these days though.

          • Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

            I played I-War 2 for the first time relatively recently (five or six years ago) and it still holds very, very well. The puzzle aspects of the story missions are still interesting*, hunting for components via piracy is a lot of fun and a few mods solved the quirks of the interface. The market system is still bonkers, though, and I generally prefer the linear, mission based predecessor.

            * We’re talking about a game in which you’re asked to destroy a massive space station with a puny fighter. How do you do that? You dock on containers filled with explosive, accelerate towards the station and let go of the container. Sir Isaac Newton will take care of the rest.

          • Dominic Tarason says:

            I-War 2’s controls map perfectly onto a single modern gamepad, by the way. Same with Elite: Dangerous, which has a very similar control setup.

            HOTAS stuff is just for rich kids wanting to show off.

          • Det. Bullock says:

            Doesn’t need to be a HOTAS, I’ve been using the “cheapass 4 button stick” + keyboard combo until last year. I never got used to gamepads for flight games, while I got most gold medals on Rogue Squadron 3D on PC I could never unlock all the missions in the gamecube sequel because I could never quite get used to steer an x-wing with an analog ministick.

          • Thirith says:

            @Dominic Tarason:
            What a needlessly antagonistic thing to say. I guess it couldn’t be that lots of HOTAS users prefer the *feel* of steering with a joystick and throttle controller? That they get more enjoyment out of playing space sims with them? Let alone the fact that you can get a perfectly serviceable HOTAS for £35, which strikes me as a relatively small price tag if you’re a rich kid wanting to show off.

          • Zenicetus says:

            @Dominic Tarason: HOTAS is also for rich kids who enjoy more than just space games. Try flying a decent combat helicopter sim without it. Some of us also fly civilian flight sims, where HOTAS can be mapped to civilian flight controls.

            It’s a niche market, but there is a market out there of HOTAS owners who would enjoy playing space games like this.

          • Unclepauly says:

            Guess I’m a rich kid :D Tell that to the neighborhood I grew up in where kids had to steal to eat.

          • Spacewalk says:

            Hey now, HOTAS ain’t just for rich folk I got a $80 Thrustmaster dealie that I had to make payments on.

          • jonfitt says:

            I’ve got an old Saitek joystick with a teeny throttle lever on it circa 2000. Prior to that going back to the Spectrum a joystick was always just part of gaming equipment. Joysticks became flight sticks for me some time in the 90s, but they’ve always been fairly standard PC equipment for me for longer than game pads have.

            I fly jets in Battlefield and spaceships in ED with it, you don’t have to be a flight sim wonk to use one.

    • Det. Bullock says:

      It is supported, you just have to go in the options and bind everything manually and there are plenty of options.
      The only thing is that the throttle axis acts a bit funny, probably because it’s made more with analog triggers in ming but you get used to it after a bit of tweaking in the axis options.

      I completed the main campaign (all difficulty levels) with a CH Combatstick and Pro Throttle set ad it’s perfectly playable with a HOTAS, if anything radial menus can let you dispense with the mapping software completely.

      Also, it’s not that arcade-y, it’s much more of a spacesim than the first Wing Commander IMHO.

  2. Shadow says:

    Once upon a time, this game was meant to have a dynamic, meaningfully replayable campaign. A bit roguelike-ish. As far as I know, they changed that model to a static, rather short string of missions.

    My interest inevitably dropped to “get it on sale, maybe”. A short campaign (some say it can be beat in around 3 hours) and a simple challenge mode doesn’t seem like much content for 18-20 dollars. Nor is replaying the same scarce content under progressively higher difficulty levels my idea of meaningful replayability.

    • Det. Bullock says:

      The difficulty changes the mission design rather than the “rules”, also the fighter and fleet can be customized, some missions change radically from a difficulty level to another.

    • Pravin Lal's Nuclear Arsenal says:

      Yeah, I wishlisted the game ages ago and I’m waiting for a good sale. I have full sympathy for the dev, I understand that the game is mostly a one-man show and I’d love myself a good Freespace throwback with a story based campaign but it’s juuust above the acceptable price tag for the amount of content it has.

    • Unsheep says:

      I think the price reflects this though.

      The older titles you are probably thinking of were full-priced titles at the time, charging you £35 or so. For that price I too would expect a chunky campaign and plenty of extra content.

      However this game is just £13.5, which is a good price for what you are getting, in my opinion.

      After all, people are willing to pay ~£13.5 for 4-5 hours worth of Dark Souls 3 DLC, just to use an example. And popular Indie games, such as the game Inside, charge you £18 for even less content. So personally I think this game has decent amount of content for the price, compared to most other Indie titles.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Good. Everything’s a bloody roguelike now. More games need to not be bloody roguelikes.

      • Shadow says:

        Roguelike can mean anything to many people. In this sense, I meant a dynamic, sensibly replayable campaign and high difficulty, at least something like intelligently randomized missions peppered with less dynamic core story encounters, and more meaningful decisions inbetween. The game has all the ingredients for that.

        If you go down the “hand-crafted” route, you better provide several hours worth of content, but its generally costlier. As a single dev, they should’ve considered this.

        • Nauallis says:

          You can’t be serious.

          • Shadow says:

            Forgive me for expecting more than a very short string of static missions and a shallow challenge mode from a game which showed a lot of potential and initially promised something more innovative.

          • Nauallis says:

            How dare the single developer fail your utterly anecdotal triple-A expectations.

          • Shadow says:

            Who said anything about AAA? Perhaps I was too specific: would you have been happier if I had instead asked for more, longer-than-5-minutes missions, even if they were static? Because that’d have been fine too: I merely suggested something akin to what was originally promised. Far from unreasonable. The point is the game is desperate for content to justify its pricetag.

        • Unclepauly says:

          -As a single dev

          Pick one.

    • Thurgret says:

      114 minutes to complete it for me, including replaying most of the levels twice, and some of them three times (i.e. on all three difficulty settings).

      Not felt any wish to return, and that’s despite that I’m the sort that does like to replay some things – completed FreeSpace 2’s campaign four times, for example.

      Just very little content for a game that isn’t really anything special, unfortunately.

      • Det. Bullock says:

        I sincerely wonder how you did it in just under two hours.

        • ppiixx says:

          Yeah that sounds incredibly short. Took me around 10 hours to get all the achievements and endings in early access.

          Looks like there are another 14 achievements added since then. Plus the daily challenge mode and the new fighters only difficulty.

        • Thurgret says:

          Played the first few levels three times each, then zoomed on through from there, played I think the majority of the levels a second time. Took me about three, maybe four minutes per level? Died twice, I reckon, but it’s a few months ago now, so maybe three times. Fourteen levels (it was fourteen, right?) at even four minutes each is 56 minutes, so add 58 minutes of replaying levels. It was 102 minutes from me unlocking the Reveille Achievement to the I achievement, so apparently I even played three or four levels again after finishing the game.

    • Ericusson says:

      Well HoDS pinched my curiosity until I read more about it abnnd how short it is.
      So I will keep with Everspace who slowly turns from very good to great if they manage to add events and contents to the rogue lite runs.

  3. Stevostin says:

    I hope by the end of the story once you’ve burned them all you realize your emperor is a 100% fascist genocidal pig which you’ve been serving lovingly all along. That would be fun.

    • Det. Bullock says:

      Let’s just say that the game doesn’t really sugarcoats the nature of the old dead emperor, you are supposed to be the bad guy here hence the original title “Enemy Starfighter”, they had to change it because it sounded too similar to the movie “The Last Starfighter”.

      • froz says:

        Oh, it’s great that they changed the name. The new one really stands out,in a good way.

        • syndrome says:

          The last time I saw this game on RPS, someone stated the exact opposite. It’s funny when you think how people can form vastly different viewpoints based only on a couple of sentences.

          Well, I guess that’s what constitutes a fertile ground for a debate.

    • Grizzly says:

      Some of the ending game blurbs and the codex do make it rather clear that there wasn’t really any lovingly going on.

  4. Ross Angus says:

    I just watched that whole trailer, just to see the typeface at the end again. What’s wrong with me?

  5. Unsheep says:

    …’works great with just a keyboard and mouse’ – [].

    I always get a warm fuzzy feeling whenever a flight combat game can be played well with just mouse & keyboard, something they should all aspire to.

    You shouldn’t have to pay €100+, in getting a flight stick, just to play a flight combat game´. Especially if it’s not a realistic sim game like FSX.

    I’m surprised by the game’s rather modest system requirements as well. Hopefully it means the game is optimized really well.

    • Grizzly says:

      And, well, you can play FSX with mouse and keyboard too! It works splendidly even, albeit rather differently from what you might be used to. There’s a video tutorial on how to do so in the game.

    • Unclepauly says:

      I feel the same way about fighting and racing games…

      Lol I’m sorry I couldn’t do it. The “opinion, away!” button wouldn’t depress lol some games are just terrible with kb/m

    • Chorltonwheelie says:

      My Speedlink Black Widow cost me £35.
      As well as being great for Elite it says “VIBRATION” in excitable letters down the stick.
      Don’t have to spend a fortune for a bit of fun.

  6. hollowroom says:

    A couple of questions on this game: Do you need both joysticks on the pad? Is the control system configurable? How many keys does “keyboard and mouse” mean?

    I was wanting to give it a try, but I don’t want to take the risk that I can’t play it.

    Although I suppose I could just buy it and ask for a refund…

    **EDIT** Just seen some comments that say it works Ok with HOTAS..hmmm

    • Det. Bullock says:

      It’s fully configurable, by defaul it assumes you are using mouse and keyboard or a gamepad but the control options are VERY thorough, it took me an hour or so to set everything up to my liking mostly because there were a lot of options on how to set everything up.

      • hollowroom says:

        Thanks for the info. I have a Vive so I was considering taking the plunge…

  7. milligna says:

    Why would there be a problem stomaching it? Cockpit-based games are among those least prone to sim sickness. Works with my HOTAS perfectly fine as well!

  8. nmarebfly says:

    I think this game is something really special. The gameplay itself is sublime and supremely balanced, and I don’t even think it’s particularly content-light. It’s a matter of how you look at it and what you’re playing it for — yeah, you can rip through the campaign on the lowest difficulty in an hour or two and maybe never even lose a mission, but the real meat of the game is at the higher levels.

    Cranking up the difficulty isn’t just a matter of the enemies doing more damage or something. You have to deal with new complications that throw your original plan out the window. Coming out on top on the hardest levels is about pining your tactics down to a razor’s edge and executing with very little leeway for error.

    They also added a flagship hunt achievement in the 1.0 version — basically adding a boss to every level. You really can’t kill it the first time out, but when you circle back with everything unlocked and a full fleet behind you the fight at the end can be really quite tense.

    The thing is, the game never forces you to do any of this stuff — if your only drive to play it is to see the missions once, you’ll end up disappointed. I still think handcrafting levels was a better plan than the procedural stuff, and if that’s really all you want there’s a wave-clear mode that’ll eat up an hour every day.

  9. rumrogers says:

    The sound design alone is worth the price of admission.