At first it was hard to truly comprehend Cosmonautica’s depth. The charming art style is a pleasant distraction which allows the game to gently introduce the simulation mechanics without you quite realizing and does a wonderful job of being one of the most approachable management sims in a long time.
Starting out as a new Captain you’re given a small ship and enough capital to get you on your way. Although the initial brunt of responsibility seems incredibly daunting it is introduced at an almost leisurely pace and never feels overwhelming. The tutorial is full of humour that not only lightens the normal management approach but also send you on your way feeling little pressure as you hire your first employees to take on your adventure – trading, fighting and helping to turn a good, healthy profit.
While the campaign contains some story elements, most of your time will be spent completing single missions outside of the story. Planets needing resources or individuals begging for your help, all of them gathering money for you to re-invest in bigger and better ships. You’re going to need a lot of money, too. The amount of things available to purchase is staggering and will require a lot of time and effort to acquire it all. You’ll spend considerable time and money into research to develop better technologies for use in the later game and you’ll become quite acquainted with your scientist as you constantly check back in to see what you’ve unlocked. As you progress these upgrades can completely change the way the whole game feels to play.
While money is important, it’s your crew’s happiness is perhaps the most important thing. Each group member has a unique personality driven by key stats. These are things you’ll want to become very familiar with as hiring someone who won’t fit into your current crew could have disastrous ramifications. Their happiness is the lynch pin to a successful business so making swift management decisions will decide whether you’ll be a successful Captain or not.
You will run into a lot of potential combat scenarios throughout your career and will have to make a choice on what kind of approach you will take. You could bribe opponents to simply leave you alone or attempt to turn and run from the heat of battle. Of course, once you’ve kitted out your ship, you’ll be able to hold your own and you can also chase space bounties and earn a little extra money that way giving you a break from the constant trading and moving from planet to planet.
If you don’t want to deal with a story mode Cosmonautica also offers a Sandbox for you to play around in. The random missions and scenarios means each time you start a new game you are going to find a different experience. Unfortunately there isn’t a great deal of different missions and it can begin to feel stale and repetitive at times, I found myself replenishing the same planet with the same resource on a number of occasions.
Cosmonautica looks absolutely fantastic. The crisp 3D art style makes every minute you’re playing a joy and the design of the numerous alien races always makes for interesting character portraits on your long journey through the galaxy. The game feels extremely polished and has come together very well through its journey via Early Access.
The main difference between Cosmonautica and other management simulations is the light-hearted way it approaches the genre. Rather than feeling corporate and grown-up, it feels fun and approachable. The music accompanies the game perfectly and comes packaged in if you purchase on Steam so you’ll be able to enjoy the upbeat tunes wherever you’ll go.
I couldn’t play Cosmonautica without having the aspirations of a Starfleet Captain and in a different style this could have been the perfect Star Trek game. The ability to manage an ever expanding crew on larger and larger ships is a terrific curve to play on. Although the game has a lot of extremely deep systems, it never fully shows you its cards so you don’t ever feel overwhelmed. Veterans of the genre may look at Cosmonautica with scorn because of the art style, but this is as deep and challenging as any other simulation game. Cosmonautica strikes the perfect balance between depth and ease of use to allow players of all skill levels to truly enjoy their experience.
- Great Art Style
- Depth of Systems within the game
- Welcoming to both experienced and new players of the genre
- Can become reasonably repetitive when played for long enough
- Managing Crew Happiness can sometimes feel arbitrary and frustrating