For many, it will be news that the rogue-lite genre has long gone beyond the dungeons and is exploring outer space with might and main. And the classic of this kind of roguelike is FTL (Faster Then Light). Pixel art, adventure and combat – everything as it should be. Now this game is considered the gold standard of the genre. In addition, it feels good on mobile devices, so few can compete with it. But many tried to throw down the glove. But how can you improve on something that already works well?
Download Crying Suns for iPhone and iPad (App Store)
In 2015, a small French studio Alt Shift went to Kickstarter with its space roguelike project. We managed to raise almost three times the planned funds. This is how the Crying Suns space roguelike was born. Here, as in FTL, you also need to fly between planets, collect garbage in space and improve your ship, team, and take part in battles. While the best features of FTL have remained, the game has its own face. The difference is made by tactical battles and a rather interesting plot.
It is difficult to meet a roguelike that has a deep story behind it. The success of Crying Suns is largely based on this. We are no longer the faceless and nameless captain of the spaceship. Our hero is Admiral Ellis Idaho himself, an imperial hero. Rather, we will control his clone, which was revived by the droid Caliban on a distant planet. The robot informs us that the connection with the empire was interrupted, something large-scale and mysterious happened.
Idaho will have to travel to the depths of space and find out what happened. A command is given to help him, and Caliban will accompany and answer questions. The loss of memory by the captain is only to help us, together with him we receive from the droid grains of the necessary information about this world and its technologies.
There are several chapters in the game. In each of them, we fly through star clusters from one star and its planets to others. During the journey, the player will encounter both peaceful civilian or commercial starships and openly hostile ones. In addition, land-based landings are available. In them, as in battles, our officers play an important role. Team selection is based on useful skills. Some will give a bonus in battle or repair, others will affect the generation of events. The assigned officers automatically explore the planet, we only get the results of this action.
But in battle, the player will have to sweat, especially since the space in Crying Suns is not at all quiet and not silent. There will be many hostile encounters, most often it will develop into a fight. The battle is not like shelling two ships from afar. Auxiliary fighters are also actively used here to counter the enemy’s strategy. The player will have to decide how to use the resources at his disposal. Passivity, like excessive activity, can lead to unwanted losses.
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The battle is fought on a separate tactical map, divided into hexagons. Each ship has the ability to launch several units of different classes. Squadrons have their own level and unique features. And mother ships can shoot from a distance. You will have to think about tactics, and without risk anywhere.
Overall, risk management is an important part of the game. We constantly have to choose: whether to invest all resources in upgrading the ship or to wait, whether to check an abandoned space station or not, whether to research an anomalous system or deal with peaceful traders. Should you send a squad to the site of a mysterious crash or keep your team safe?
But the need to make a choice is part of the overall plot and the main gameplay, created according to the canons of roguelikes: live, learn, die, repeat. Regardless of what happens to you, nothing fatal will happen. The death of Admiral Idaho will simply lead to the resurrection of his clone, with all the accumulated knowledge. Yes, it’s inconvenient, but it won’t affect the development of the game.
The game also has its drawbacks – you will not find such FTL variability here. It will not work to create a unique ship with unusual capabilities. And the officers are not pumped, they can simply be replaced with others. Each chapter actually resets all game progress, forcing you to start over. In terms of gameplay, the mechanics will not change after the first chapter. But the unique story will not let you get bored completely – the plot is an equal component of this roguelike.
The immersion is also helped by the classic pixel graphics for this genre. It is designed in a single style and well detailed. And the traced space panoramas that we admire in the cockpit are really impressive. Even the mean animations are quite consistent with the harsh spirit of the suddenly mysterious post-apocalyptic world.
In general, Crying Suns will be enjoyed by a fan of roguelikes and strategies. Collisions will really make you wonder how to use the map’s features and what targets are best to choose. You can’t win by brute force alone. Interaction with NPCs often has long lasting, albeit repetitive, consequences. Minimalistic graphics do not slip into simplicity, delighting with details. In any case, Crying Suns is capable of generating feelings of exploration and discovery, unraveling mysteries and finding the lost.
Download Crying Suns for iPhone and iPad (App Store)