A long time ago, I was sitting in a press room chatting with the guitarist from a band called I Mother Earth and a dude walked up to the singer who was standing a couple people over and asked if IME was trying to sound like Jane’s Addiction. That was met with mild disappointment from the singer, who obviously had heard it before despite not really sounding like Jane’s Addiction at all. However, I Mother Earth’s sound was such a unique fusion of funk, rock, and metal that people didn’t know what to make of it and so drew comparisons from bands that were at least marginally similar.
Such is the way of Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander (LIGHTSPEED EDITION). It is very uniquely its own game but seems to pull from obvious influences such as FTL, XCOM, various old school JRPG’s, Mass Effect, and so on. The mesh of influences helped Massive Damage, Inc create what ended up being an interesting and concise adventure.
The story in Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander (LIGHTSPEED EDITION) is definitely a hodgepodge of some sci-fi elite: Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Stargate, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, Mass Effect; taking elements from each as influences for this one. Essentially, humanity has expanded outward and that resulted in conflicts with other races. A new threat emerges (the Chruul) and destroys the bulk of humanity’s remaining fleet leaving only those people left on an ancient precursor race derelict space base that they were researching at the time. From there, you (the people in the space base) must build a couple ships and start looking for any other survivors while also trying to figure out what happened and where the new alien species appeared from. The was a nice twist at the end that was fun.
The writing is however more in the vein of what you would expect from Monty Python if they teamed up with Douglas Adams (RIP) to write Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe crossed with the Holy Grail on the Starship Enterprise. Tongue in cheek dry humor rather than serious and brooding story telling. The various races were developed quite well and bore similarities to the Ferengi (Yabblings), the Borg (The Coolective), Klingons (Xlar-Yanthu), and so on, only with the obligatory humorous twist. Plus there are pirates. Lots of pirates.
All in all, I thought the writing was pretty good and the lore of this part of the universe was surprisingly dense. There is actually quite a bit of dialogue and that was always pretty entertaining.
8 out of 10
The gameplay in Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander (LIGHTSPEED EDITION) is split between 3 major activities and some sub activities as well.
The most important aspect of this game is base building. You are humanity’s last known survivors on a mostly unexplored alien space base. As such, you have to explore the base and then build up the base to suit your needs. This is set up very much like XCOM in application. You have a variety of structures that supply power, training, supplies, build ships, and so on. Most of these rooms have tasks that are available which upgrade your facility, your ships, your soldiers, etc….However, each of these tasks must be accomplished by an officer. All of your officers are also pilots, and managing who is on missions versus who stays behind to accomplish these tasks becomes a bit of a mini game.
There is also a research section which simply requires supplies to fund. These allow you to build new structures, new ships, upgrade your abilities, and so on. This is attached to base building as a sub activity. By the end of the game, you will have fully explored and upgraded everything on your space station as well as have researched all possible research trees.
You also have to keep your crew’s morale up. This can be accomplished via battle victories, saving colonies, completing certain tasks, and via on board therapy and team building sessions. A happy crew is a constructive crew.
Did I mention that your base will come under attack periodically and has health points that must be monitored and repaired as needed so everybody doesn’t die?
Combat is handled very much in straight forward, JRPG style turn based style. Your (up to) three ships or soldiers line up to face the enemies (up to) three, ummm….enemies. All of your officers level up and can choose abilities based on their class. Their class and level also impacts which types of ships they can pilot and which level of ship as well. There are six classes and three prestige classes all told. There are likewise six types of ships available for each tech tier (of which there are five). Higher tier ships require higher levels.
Everything your officers have learned are represented with abilities. You can take only a certain amount of items (you will be able to find and use many useful ship upgrades such as healing drones and better hull armor, etc….) and powers with you into battle though. You can set up three configurations however to take advantage of different combos. The power selection in both ground and space combat is pretty diverse. They are also quite entertaining to watch. If you dont have enough officers available for ground combat, “Green Shirts” will fill in. These are basically like Star Trek’s security people that die in every episode of the original series. They start out under powered but can be trained to become super soldiers.
With space combat however, you dont get the support of the Green Shirts. Whatever ships you have with you is what you have going into battle. Battles can get quite strategic in nature as you figure out which combination of powers from your ships will win the day. When to heal and buff, when to attack, etc….This is the bulk of combat in Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander (LIGHTSPEED EDITION) realistically. Probably upward of 95% of the battles in the game are space battles.
There is a map overlay which reminded me a little of Mass Effect 3’s map. As more of the galaxy is revealed and you establish more colonies, your map grows. This is where you will do most of your resource gathering (you get resources from battle and completing quests as well) as well as exploration and of course initiating battle. It’s very user friendly and easy to grasp.
8 out of 10
The graphics in Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander (LIGHTSPEED EDITION) are more old school in nature and look great. Low texture, PS One era type graphics, but obviously done much better. I thought in particular the battles and abilities were super cool to look at. The ship designs were neat. The rest were fun (character animations, map design, etc….).
7 out of 10
The audio in Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander (LIGHTSPEED EDITION) was for me a bit of a mixed bag. The soundtrack very definitely conveys that 1950’s style sci-fi vibe and sounds, from the music to the actual tracks used for battle, the good B movie sci-fi feeling is there. However, they do get quite repetitive after 20 or so hours. I wish more had been done with this. That said, it was still well done….just less variety than would have been ideal.
7 out of 10
Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander (LIGHTSPEED EDITION) is a game that you can easily sink 20 or so hours into. There are multiple difficulties available though for new playthroughs and the actual choices you make in the game interacting with aliens can also change things up in new playthroughs. You can be their enemy, their ally, and can pick and choose making for galactic chaos or stability depending on how you handle things. I’m thinking you could as such get many playthroughs out of Halcyon 6 if you were so inclined. Ultimately, I had a really good time with it. As much as its varied influences shine through, it is still it’s own game through and through.
7.5 issues with space slime stopping up equipment while I try to deal with an intergalactic menace out of 10 possible. The remaining 2.5 was smooth sailing about the universe.