Spacebase DF-9 is an obvious play off of Star Trek’s Starbase DS-9 and Double Fine’s own name but there is nothing derivative about this game, in fact it is as cheeky as the wordplay used in naming it. You start the game by selecting a sector of space, there are a variety of factors you want to consider. The stellar density provides you matter to mine and refine in to materials for your crew to build and survive off of but it also means there’s not a lot of room to move until you mine or vaporize the matter around you. How close are you to a warpgate? This will dictate how often you get visitors, this can be good news because you always need more crew or it could be bad news as they may be pirates looking for a score. The threat level indicates the amount of pirate traffic that comes through the sector and the magnetic interference will tell you how likely you are to have a derelict vessel drift in to your sector of space.
Speaking of technicians they are one of the many classes you need and can assign to your little stellar travellers, you can also assign them jobs as scientists to research advancements in technology, bartenders to work as the resident Guinan keeping everyone cool so they don’t kill that keener Wesley guy, botanists to work in your stellar greenhouses, doctors to keep everyone alive, and miners to work the rocks out there bringing back the matter that matters. You can flip your crew members between roles as needed but some roles like technician you will want to keep crew on pretty much constantly. Everything you build in your base decays with use and technicians will be the ones to fix it. These jobs mean a lot to every crew member, they have a star rating system the higher the stars the better they are (and the more they like the job). The longer they work the higher their rating goes.
Every person on your base has their very own social networking site to post their updates on (hey, the more things change the more they stay the same) and this along with their psychological profile can help you gauge how your base is coming along and what you need to keep the crew happy. To start the key things are life support, matter refineries and food. All of which can be built using the starting matter you begin with. Once that runs out though you will want to start mining the rocks which is done with an easy to use drag interface, just drag your mouse over the asteroids and you will mine them for their precious ore.
One thing to always be ready for and may keep you from relaxing is raiders, these unpleasant fellows are looking to take over your station and will gun down any civilians to get there. Luckily the interface will warn you about approaching ships and you’ll see the silhouette of any approaching raiders. Once they cut a hole through your hull their ship takes off and leaves them there, in this case this unhappy fellow cut himself in to a room where I hadn’t built a door yet so I let him stew in his own juices for a while.
An Early Access game Spacebase DF-9 is a fun little sandbox to play in but despite the variety of opportunities for fun you will soon grind out reaching the end of what is playable. At $24.99 on steam this title goes on sale fairly regularly and if you have a few dollars available it is well worth picking up when the price drops but it is hard to recommend for full price in its current state. That is not to say I don’t recommend it, they are constantly adding new and more impressive features as the game grows it becomes more and more desirable with each pass and is for sure a title to keep an eye on. If you want something a little more full featured I suggest checking out the classic Startopia available on Steam and Good Old Games. It may be a little long in the tooth but it has a great narrator who has a very Hitchhiker’s Guide vibe. Hopefully we’ll see more of that style of play emerge as the game develops. For now though, I wave goodbye at my quiet little home in the stars looking forward to when I can come back and visit it again soon.
- Funny cheeky tone
- Big sandbox to play in with a variety of challenges
- Promising feature set and UI
- Early access title still under development
- Lacks objectives and gameplay can grow stale after a while
- UI can be a bit picky at times but has improved with each pass of the beta
* strong potential to improve as development continues