Between The Stars Demo Review
Two-man indie developer out of Spain, Isolated Games, has begun an enormous undertaking. They are in the process of developing Between The Stars, an open-world space-themed action RPG with roguelike elements. If you think that is a mouthful to say, imagine what it must be like for a two-man team to create. While this may seem a monumental task, the guys at Isolated Games have made significant strides and recently released a demo of the game which I simply had to try out!
While I have dabbled in open-world space games briefly in the past (most notably the X series and EVE Online) something about them always felt missing or out of place. EVE was simply too massive for me to take in, I got lost and confused and frustrated very quickly and never went back. I lasted considerably longer in the X series, X3: Albion Prelude to be exact. I found the offline pace and environment was more my speed when it came to these types of games. This is why I had to try Beyond The Stars. A modern and offline space-themed ARPG? Seems right down my alley! But enough about me, let’s dive into the game itself.
I boot up the Between The Stars demo and am immediately welcomed by ‘Prologue’ or ‘Prologue (HARD)’ options. Since I am a wuss and bad at games, I steer well clear of the HARD option and begin my prologue experience. The graphics I am met with are very pleasant, featuring stunning galactic backdrops and detailed vessels.
Between The Stars begins with a tutorial for maneuvering your ship’s roll, pitch and yaw which take some time to adjust to (I had to swap the rotate/turn controls in the very limited options menu). You are given some more controls and then thrust into a combat scenario. While the combat movement feels a little clunky, it is still extremely satisfying to rattle off your laser cannons and watch the enemy ships explode in magnificent fashion. Michael Bay could learn a thing or two from these guys when it comes to explosions.
As the prologue progresses, it becomes more and more evident that this is an unfinished product, albeit with lots of potential. The voice acting is sub-par, but I give Isolated Games credit for even including voice acting in a single-chapter demo. It really does add to the experience and provide a glimpse of what the finished game will look like.
Another obviously unfinished aspect of the game is teased in the spaceport menu screens which has a whole host of ship customizations including weaponry, shields and other vessel upgrades, all of which seem to be unusable as of yet. There are also 4 designations for your crew, each of which enable actions such as research and salvage. While you are able to interact briefly with these options, there are a variety of grayed out features that one can assume will be included in the final product.
Even knowing the game that I am playing is a demo only, there are still a few flaws too blatant to ignore. There are bugs. Quite a few of them. Sometimes quests do not show up and other times my cannons simply don’t fire. While there is plenty of time to fix these before the game is officially available, the fact that Isolated Games offered a demo with these bugs in them is troubling. Either they were not identified or they were not able to be fixed in time to release the demo, and both of those options would expose an issue in the development of the game. Again, while I am sure these bugs will be sorted out before release, I have to review the product I am given as it is when I receive it.
While it can be nigh impossible to truly evaluate a game based on a short demo, I see enough potential in the gameplay, graphics, customization, research mechanics and overall concept to honestly be excited for Between The Stars’ release in Q1 2019.
I highly encourage anyone interested to try the free demo on Steam and if you enjoy it as much as I did, consider supporting Isolated Games by grabbing an early copy of the game.
While their Kickstarter campaign has ended successfully, you still have the option of supporting Isolated Games and playing Between The Stars ahead of release through BackerKit by visiting: https://between-the-stars.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders