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Have You Played... Dyson Sphere Program?

Aren't games this ambitious meant to be disappointments?

Dyson Sphere Program is possibly the most ambitious game I've ever played. It's certainly the most ambitious game that manages to deliver on its promise. That promise? Factorio, but in 3D, set in a galaxy of multiple spherical planets, and with the goal of creating a Dyson Swarm megastructure around a star to harness its energy.

I mean, come on. How can any development team deliver on such a promise? Let alone a development team of only five people?

I started playing Dyson Sphere Program, tensed and ready for the catch to reveal itself. Had everything been simplified to the extreme? Was it riddled with bugs? Was the balancing or pacing of the game way off-kilter? Nope. I slowly realised that it was really quite a stunning game, and that I was having heaps of fun designing and redesigning my little factories that gathered up iron, copper, stone, and coal for me and automatically crafted them into more useful components and materials.

If you've played Factorio, Satisfactory, or other games in the factory building genre, you'll know broadly what to expect. But Dyson Sphere Program's setting, style, and ambition set it apart from the rest. It may lack the approachability of Satisfactory and the peerless polish of Factorio, but Dyson Sphere Program lets you capture screenshots of a sunrise (physically simulated by the rotations of the celestial bodies in your solar system, I might add) shining rays of warm light onto your planet-spanning factories, and just a few wispy beginnings of your Dyson Swarm floating about the sun as it slowly crests over the horizon. Factory building games aren't supposed to be this beautiful.

A Dyson Sphere Program screenshot of the beginnings of a Dyson Sphere around a star, with a planet in the foreground sporting a science factory at one of its poles.
This glorious screenshot was taken by Reddit user "Raulikien" and posted on the Dyson Sphere Program subreddit.

It's also worth saying that Dyson Sphere Program does break the mould in terms of the actual logistics that drive the game forward. All your manual mining and crafting and exploring is done via your mech, which you must keep powered or it will slow to a crawl. The spherical planets may sound like a superficial thing, but they force you to think very differently when it comes to organising and connecting your factories. Tidally locked planets are a rare and extremely sought-after phenomenon, because you can use the always-day side for solar panels and have them producing energy 100% of the time.

Perhaps most impressive of all, the Dyson Swarm actually works like a Dyson Swarm: the first few mirrors you send up into orbit around the sun will generate a little bit of extra energy, which you then use to fuel the launch of more mirrors, which generates more energy, and so on and so forth. Exponential growth is a beautiful thing sometimes.

There are more examples of how Dyson Sphere Program's uniqueness translates not only into glorious screenshots but also fascinating logistical problems for the player, but I don't have room for them here. If you like factory games, you should play it. Hell, you probably already have, and for several hundred hours too. I certainly did. And now I'm off to play some more.

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