I’ve logged a lot of hours into Minecraft, Total Miner, Castle Miner Z, Terraria and more. I love sandbox, world-building games and I own Minecraft and Terraria for multiple platforms. I’m not trying to brag about how many games I own here, just trying to point out that I’m no stranger to the genre.
That’s why I was truly surprised by Starbound when I first picked it up. I have to admit, even having played and loved all the games mentioned above -and then some- I pegged Starbound as a Terraria clone when I first saw it.
Boy was I wrong.
Starbound is so much more expansive, both in terms of gameplay and the world. The same tried and true elements are there, like a remarkably in-depth crafting system, world manipulation, digging (lots of it), and much more. If you just take a quick peek at a trailer, you’ll never understand the game in its full capacity.
When you first boot it up and create a new world, you can create a character from one of six different races. They don’t have different stats or anything like that, but you do get a completely different spaceship depending on the race you choose. That’s right, I said spaceship. That’s the heart of Starbound.
You start in a personal spaceship, and your goal is to explore the universe all the while collecting supplies and minerals. At the beginning, you have run out of fuel so you have to follow a very simple tutorial by beaming down onto a nearby planet -Star Trek style- in order to find the necessary supplies to get moving. The tutorial is crazy and a lot of weird things happen before you complete it, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a lot of fun.
While you’re on the surface of a planet the game plays almost exactly like Terraria, but it looks a million times better. It’s hard to believe that a 2-dimensional, pixel-based game like this could be gorgeous, but it most certainly is.
My favorite feature of the game is that the world is totally interactive. Trees sway in the wind, shudder when you hit them and fall with a crash after you cut them down. Fish swim in the water and play with bubbles and splashes that you make. Animals and beasties roam every planet, some of which are even human-like in nature.
There’s a lot to see in Starbound. I’m having a hard time grasping the fact that the game is still in Beta because there’s so much to do! The game already feels like a finished product, and I can’t wait for future updates. I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, so let’s jump back to the subject.
That spaceship I mentioned earlier is yours to personalize and modify. You cannot remove or break any of the materials, walls and components that are already on the ship when you load the game, however you can add whatever you want to it. You can line the walls with decorations, fill the hull with chests full of goodies or you can just make a row of electronic doors. That’s totally up to you.
Multiplayer is drop-in, drop-out so you can play with others pretty much whenever you want. You can also take your characters back and forth between single and multi-player modes just like Terraria.
As for the amount of content, the game is seemingly endless. Once you collect the fuel you need, you can beam back to your spaceship and move on to other worlds to explore. Every planet is different, and features a whole sub-set of biomes and terrains. Imagine the average world in Terraria, except multipled by a bajillion; that’s Starbound in a nutshell really.
The game is a bit pricey at $14.99, but I say it’s totes fucking worth it. Then again, you do have to appreciate and enjoy this type of game to really get into it. I still recommend that everyone give it a try.