As I sit behind my keyboard with a new game to appraise, I often get these terrible grips of panic when attempting to start the review off. Mainly things like “Does that make sense?” “Am I over explaining?” and sometimes “What the hell did I just play?”. Quite often (thank God) I find that having a passion for whatever I’m playing helps a lot.
This bodes well for Interstellar Rift. As a game it’s been in development for a fairly long time, slowly building a fan base and adding new features and upgrades along the way. In a market that has its fair share of build/survival games, it’s hard to find something that stands out. Rift does this. Long-time players are more than happy to zip around the starting station preparing the materials necessary to venture out into the depths of space. Oddly devoid of a tutorial, this can be a little off putting to the new player. Gladly a modicum of exploration and touching everything in sight will lead to some fairly intuitive game play.
For the uninitiated, Interstellar Rift is a building game where players plunder local asteroids for materials to make ships, weapons, scanners and new space stations. You step into a new game into what looks like the set of Tron, bright colours and blocky structures. Staring out of a window shows just how vast space is. The developer has captured it perfectly. There is very little sound and what there is tends to come from doors opening and closing, player sounds and the noise of the teleportation devices.
There is no HUD as such, menu interactions are carried out by using a wrist mounted computer (think Pipboy on the wrong wrist) and the myriad of screens around the structure. These screens become your contact with everything you need, the ships overall design, its power functions and even the reprocessing units. It adds a layer of immersion that you don’t immediately appreciate until you have played for a while. Take some time to build up some unrefined ores and water, then turn those ores into ingots and break the water down into its component elements of hydrogen and oxygen (required for fuelling your life support and engines). There are some nifty teleport pads all leading to the different sections of the ship, this is to ensure that you never need to fill your inventory with raw materials, and you can keep hold of all the good stuff.
Taking flight in your new ship opens you up to more asteroid fields and potentially new types of ore – amusingly one of which is Unobtanium. But that’s all for now. You will encounter other player’s vessels, each searching for the next big haul. Not much else. This gives rise to so many opportunities for the devs to drop in ship to ship combat (which is extremely limited at the moment) and they have promised PVP station combat, piracy and even NPC aliens and vendors.
To top all of this off, IR has an extremely well created ship building tool. There are dozens upon dozens of possibilities to sustain the wildest dreams of the hardened space cowboy. Everything from window types, ceiling fans, power supplies and weapons arrays can be positioned, rotated and placed on a ship of your making. From that, if you can dig out enough space rock, you can create it and add it to the server! Minute details such as the ability to make sure critical systems have redundancies should you suffer loss of power from external and internal attacks. Having enough oxygen to make sure life support is sustained from room to room is again, another brilliant move on behalf of the developer. The more players you have on your ship, the faster oxygen is depleted and carbon build up causes eventual damage to your health. Both simple yet surprisingly deep options allow customisation rarely encountered in this genre are extremely rewarding to the creative and imaginative player. I did have to use YouTube and research quite a bit beforehand, but it becomes a lot easier with practice and it wasn’t long before I was off to create the next floating space Ark.
With the game rapidly approaching full release and with a slew of new features pending, this will keep the existing player base more than happy for a long time to come.