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Space Tales is a 1940s retrofuturist colony RTS with a neat power system from veterans of They Are Billions

"Peacefully populate the galaxy by any means necessary."

Promotional art for 1940s retrofuturist-influenced RTS Space Tales
Image credit: Saigon Dragon

Space Tales is a new real-time strategy game from Vietnam-based Saigon Dragon, who worked with Numantian Games to develop the brilliant They Are Billions. In They Are Billions, you scraped together walls and turrets to hold off a world's worth of undead, and prolong the miserable lives of a tiny handful of non-zombified humans at your settlement's core. Space Tales is breezier of demeanour - like the confusingly named 2014 RTS Space Rogue, it takes inspiration from 1940s retro-futurism, with brightly coloured maps and chunky chrome unit design. But there are similarly grim overtones. The game puts you in charge of a Starship Troopers-esque expeditionary force, carving out secure nooks on very-much-inhabited alien planets and flogging them as holiday destinations.

Space Tales has just launched on Kickstarter. Providing Saigon Dragon hit their funding targets, it'll offer a 16-mission campaign with optional side missions, in which you can research army improvements and build up a squad of side-characters.

What do I mean by optional side missions? Well, apparently there are larger, docile alien lifeforms who can be hunted down for bonus resources and so forth. Who are you, exactly? Some guy called Xander - no, not Xander from Buffy, alas, but the son of a celebrated general of the Intergalactic Planetary Expansion organisation, whose goal is "to peacefully populate the galaxy by any means necessary". If that premise sounds a bit dark, know that this is explicitly a "satire of imperialism/colonialism", to quote the Steam page.

A metallic human outpost on a dusty red planet in RTS Space Tales
A network of power hubs from a human base in RTS Space Tales
Image credit: Saigon Dragon

In terms of how it stands apart from other real-time strategy games, there's mention of a hub power system, with larger generators linking out to smaller wireless nodes that decide what you can build where. The major tactical wrinkle here appears to be that if one smaller hub gets trashed by those pesky xenos, any other hubs and production facilities connected to it lose power. Stretch out your power grid too far and you're asking for trouble, but I'm guessing the game will tempt you to do so with scattered pockets of resources, and so forth.

It all feels very Starcrafty. Battles mix together smaller rank-and-file with larger support units, and base structures are summoned from orbit. There's the option of capturing rather than killing the aforesaid larger, initially non-hostile alien wildlife, allowing you to summon them as beasts of war. You can scry the team's previous experience on There Are Billions in the wave-defence feel of the encounters, though the bodycount isn't nearly as high - so far. Here's the trailer.

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Nic Reuben deemed There Are Billions one of the Bestest Best strategy games, not least for its exceedingly unpleasant atmosphere. "The people serve the colony and the colony serves the people like some horrific clockwork chicken and bronze egg situation," he observed. "Farmers toil in the shadow of tall wooden palisades to feed the crew of gigantic ballistae and the pilots of flamethrower-wielding mechs." I'm not sure what I've seen of Space Tales can match that - the satirical elements feel very cut-and-dried - but I like the retrofuturist HUD with its curving monitors, and I'm curious about the power hub system. What do you think? There's no release date yet, but they're aiming for 2024.

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