Saturday, 23 April 2016 00:00

Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander Early Access Review

Written by

Halcyon 6 is a genre blending, science fiction pixel odyssey.

Successfully combining exploration, base building, and an engaging turn-based JRPG combat system, Halycon 6: Starbase Commander delivers a satisfying experience, even in beta.

The game opens with a standard hand-holding tutorial that does a good job introducing the basics. The pixel art immediately captures your attention, creating a strong atmosphere and helping you immerse yourself into the game. The story centers around the fall of galactic human space life as a result of strange aliens named Chruul recently invading the galaxy via portals.

You play as the starbase commander, giving orders to your officers defending space from pirates and Chruul, or exploring your ancient relic of a starbase. There are three types of officers to create your fleet with: science, tactical, and engineer. Each officer has special abilities (and unique histories) geared towards them and their specific ship types.

The science officer is gently aligned to a healing and buffing class, but by utilizing the vulnerability system in combat, he can deliver devastating blows. Tactical officers are your glass cannon types. They deal high damage and are quick, but frail. Tactical officers are crucial in setting up strong combos to take down higher level enemies. Engineer ships and officers fill a tank role, with some abilities letting you taunt the enemy space craft into shooting you instead of your fleet allies.

Combat takes some getting used to, but once the vulnerability system is understood, and you begin making choices to develop your characters in synergistic ways, then you can start pulling off entertaining combos that can quickly decimate enemy forces. For example, the engineer ship has an ability which causes a hull breach (similar to a bleed effect, it even has blood for the icon), the science vessel has a portal attack that exploits hull breaches, causing massive damage. Having chained combos between your three ships is imperative for fighting off bosses and Elder Chruul.

Your ancient starbase has tons of room for expansion, to do this you assign an officer to clear the room, and every so often you'll have a ground combat where other officers or cadets (who die very quickly) can help you destroy the strange creatures living in the depths.

The ground combat is similar to space combat, traditional JRPG style. However, the difference between space combat and ground combat is enough to keep things entertaining. Officers will level up either space combat skills or ground combat skills. Growing your characters to work with other officers is crucial to survive the tougher enemies.

It's easy to get attached to your officers, but this can be a bit of a let down. Once they die they are gone for good, and you must promote another one in their place (who will start at level 1). Good news is though, after you upgrade your base some, you can have six officers total, giving you a wide variety of combos and abilities for multiple situations and enemy types.

Halcyon 6 integrates a simple resource management game, where the sites you explore have a chance of containing a human colony.

Depending on the type of site, it can produce fuel, crew, materials, or dark matter. The latter two are used to produce ships, upgrade technologies, and build new rooms in your starbase.

Understanding the nuances of the base building may take a try or two. The game doesn't end if your fleet dies, you continue building, taking care of what little New Terran Federation territory you have left. After awhile, the Chruul will begin taking over points in space, spawning new portals and their own starbases. If you don't have the fleet power to stop them, they will quickly overrun you. Balancing exploration, starbase expansion, research, and ship construction in proper degrees can make or break your galactic career.

Aside from extra-galactic aliens, other civilizations exist around you. The interactions with your neighboring NPCs are generally humorous. There is a diplomacy system involved that will increase your neighbors' disposition towards you and thereby having a chance to form an alliance. Helping your neighbors with missions or killing off Chruul will give you increased favor with said neighbors.

Music was a huge plus, the mixture of retro sci fi sounds coupled with epic scale string quartets was well done. That being said, it did get tiresome after a few hours of game play and could perhaps have a few more tracks involved.

The art style is unique, crisp, and never really had problems figuring out what something was. The backgrounds to combat are animated and interesting enough to not get too dull. The starmap background did feel like it could use a bit more polish, after staring at the same planets for 300+ turns, you start to get tired of seeing the blue and gray pixel galaxy backdrop.

Hearing about everything Halcyon 6 wanted to accomplish, I was skeptical if the game would deliver.

I was thoroughly surprised that this beta not only provided an entertaining experience, but did so with a level of polish and depth that some retail releases would dream of having.

All-in-all, Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander provides a wonderfully detailed game that will keep you sustained for hours and give retro sci fi fans a new staple to come back to. As it stands, this game can only improve with time and will surely create a loyal fan base.


The Verdict

Extraordinarily put together and well thought out. This beta release captivates and draws you into its world. With further tweaks, this game will quickly become a staple in both RPG and Sci Fi enthusiasts alike.

Read 6529 times
Shane Lynn

Shane's earliest memory of gaming was playing Contra on the original NES. Since then he has found a love for PC gaming, Pen and Paper Role playing, and Board games. His strongest passions are in the realms of fantasy and science fiction where he has developed countless worlds, stories, table top gaming systems, and an original board game. Outside of gaming, he'll be found dancing with crystals and talking with glowing nature spirits in his backyard.