Skip to main content

Jumplight Odyssey is just the right balance of spaceship pressure cooker

This roguelike colony sim will have you hot (but not too hot) under the collar

The SDF Catalina is being pursued by the Zutopan battleship in Jumplight Odyssey
Image credit: League Of Geeks

I've been itching to get my hands on League Of Geeks' new roguelike colony sim ever since I first clapped eyes on its 70s anime-infused visuals back in November last year. The good news is that you'll soon be able to do exactly that, as tonight's PC Gaming Show confirmed that Jumplight Odyssey will be getting a Steam Next Fest demo on June 19th. That's just over a week away at time of writing, and having played an early version of that demo myself, I'm pleased to report that it's shaping up very nicely indeed - even if my first attempt ended in catastrophic disaster after I was boarded by half a dozen crews of angry green alien lads.

Running away from said angry green aliens is your key motivation in Jumplight Odyssey. After they nuke your homeworld at the start of the game, your goal as Princess Eurphora is to guide your remaining survivors to safety by warp-hopping across the universe until you reach the Forever Star. I wasn't sure exactly how far away this would be when League Of Geeks first showed it to me last year, but having now had a proper gander at the map in the demo, it looks like each run will be nice and chunky when the game eventually launches into early access. You won't need to visit every planet on its randomly generated star maps - though they will have their own unique reasons to visit, such as special resources, extra survivors or big biomass food supplies - but I counted almost 50 of the things in my first run at the demo, which I probably reckon will mean you'll need to jump a good eight to ten times during a single campaign.

Watch on YouTube

Preparing for those jumps will inform a lot of your decision making in Jumplight Odyssey, as the angry Zutopans will be hot on your trail at every step of the way. Your ship only has a limited jump range, you see, and you'll need to warm up your warp engines by storing up enough Jumplight before you can make the next leap. Upgrading and expanding your engine's array of Jumplight Cores and Calculators to speed up this process and increase its range will demand careful planning and management, however, which you'll need to balance with the rest of your ship's needs as you journey through the system.

In the demo, you're capped at three jumps, and I reckon the devs have also given the Zutopans a few rubber bands in the process to help give you a taste of what a boarding encounter will look and feel like in the final game. Rest assured, though, the tutorial gives you enough time and breathing room to get your bearings on how to navigate and repair your ship first before any untoward intruders start showing up.

During the first 30 minutes or so, it will teach you the basics of supplying rooms and machines with power grids, oxygen pumps and maybe the odd fire extinguisher (just in case) so you've got a stable working environment for your crew, as well as how the four divisions of supply, combat, engineering and the science team all pull together to get construction materials where they need to be, and then man said machines to keep them running. You can transfer staff to any division at any time, too, if you're finding your crew are a bit slow at harvesting food in the greenhouse you just built, for example, you might want to draft in some more scientists to pick up the pace.

A marine fires a laser gun at a Zutopan in Jumplight Odyssey
A red alert scene in Jumplight Odyssey
Image credit: League Of Geeks
A top down very of a spaceship undergoing various combat encounters in Jumplight Odyssey
Image credit: League Of Geeks

You can do this by selecting individual crew members and going to their respective Action menu, but I do wish there was an easier way to a) access the entire Manifest menu a bit faster (this can also only be done by selecting individual crew members as far as I can tell), and b) transferring mass numbers of staff to different divisions. I may well be jumping the gun a bit here, as the demo doesn't really give you a sense of whether one person will make a substantial difference versus, say five or even ten extra people to rectify a workflow problem, but I do know one thing. When the Zutopans pitch up and I need all hands to battle stations (which is its own alert level, I should add, in classic Star Trek-style), it's a bit of a pain swooping between all the different layers of my ship to find individual people to turn into space marines so they can pick up a gun and fight back.

Manifest niggles aside, though, the demo gives you plenty of opportunity to explore and try out the rest of its plentiful systems, such as sending crew off on away missions to retrieve resources and rescue other survivors from the nearby planet you've rocked up by, and building new rooms to expand your ship's capabilities. Your economy is quite limited in these early stages, so I only had enough resources to build the tutorial's mandated greenhouse and maybe plonk down some extra power grids in corridors to help speed up traversal (thanks gravity), but the building itself feels very intuitive and snappy. Objects stick easily to walls, and flash green when they're in a good spot, ensuring you won't accidentally plonk something down only to find it's then inaccessible to your crew after it's built.

The Jumplight Engine inside the SDF Catalina in Jumplight Odyssey
Image credit: League Of Geeks

You can queue up a number of different requests for a room when you're in build mode, too, which just helps to speed things up a bit. There's no 'clear this debris', back to regular mode, 'construct this power grid', back to regular mode shuffle. You can just order everything you need to happen without leaving the menu screen, and then put your plan into action by holding down right click on the Build button. Simple as.

There are a ton of things you'll be able to upgrade as you get further into you run, too. Pods and empty module nooks abound on every level of the SDF Catalina, and it can be easy to get carried away by the sheer possibility of it all. Right now, it looks as though you'll only have a fixed number of these upgrade opportunities to play with during a run - I don't know, for instance, if you'll be able to build things freeform yet - but in some ways I like only having limited options. It means I'll be able to pick and choose what to prioritise in different runs, and that I'll need to make decisions based on what's right in the moment to try and win the day.

The greenhouse room on board the SDF Catalina in Jumplight Odyssey
The social room on board the SDF Catalina in Jumplight Odyssey
Image credit: League Of Geeks

Assuming I don't get continually biffed by the Zutopans, of course. 20 minutes can seem like an age when you've got a countdown timer flashing up on the screen telling you a Zutopan invasion is imminent, but man alive, they sure do get to work when they finally board you. It only took a couple of minutes for them to wipe out all but a dozen or so of my crew, steal into my Jumplight engine room, and completely put the kibosh on my entire demo run, which is all the motivation I need to try and make sure it never happens again.

In any case, I'm excited to have a proper run at Jumplight Odyssey after playing this demo, and I'll be very intrigued to see how it evolves during early access, too. We still don't know its early access release date just yet, but if all this sounds like it might be up your Jumplight alley, then be sure to download the demo over on Steam come June 19th.

NotE3 and Summer Game Fest 2023 is over for another year. You can find out all the latest news by visiting our E3 2023 hub, or you can catch up with our round-up posts of everything that was announced at Summer Game Fest, the Xbox Games Showcase, the PC Gaming Show, Day Of The Devs, and our top highlights from the Wholesome Direct.

Read this next