Day 96: SolarStruggle

Posted: 2011/02/13 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and no longer appear in the top 50 downloads. Today is day #96, and today’s game is “SolarStruggle”.

Armada was a notable release on the Sega Dreamcast, and this game harkens back to it more than a bit. And that’s a good thing in this case. Like with Armada, you move on a 2D plane (you cannot dive or rise) that is displayed in three dimensions. This is similar to the Battlestar Galactica game on XBLA, but it works better here. So this game definitely does not respect Newtonian physics in its space model, but it does boast tremendous graphics, a long campaign, and plenty of variety in the upgradeable ships.

Be warned this is not Elite, nor is it Frontier or Privateer, though its story is as good or better. Fans of those games may be a bit disappointed by the combat and the space physics, but they’ll likely be impressed by everything else.

The beauty of space in SolarStruggle really has to be seen to be believed. With a visual aesthetic that wouldn’t be out of place in Eve Online, space is colourful and gorgeous. So too are the detailed ships. The story moves along at a reasonable clip and the set pieces of the campaign do a good job of establishing the mood.

Ships have five upgradeable stats, but you start in a transport ship that’s at the low end of the scale and that’s what you’ll still have when the demo timer is up. You have to take a bit of a leap of faith about the good things to come, but having purchased the game it did not disappoint.

The game’s at its best when its focusing on its expansive narrative, which takes place about 150 years in the future when humankind has colonised the solar system and spread out so far that it’s no longer possible to police them all. This is a huge game with great presentation (including good sound effects and voice acting) and is well deserving of its 400 Microsoft Points.

For a second opinion, check out Kobun’s review of SolarStruggle.

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