People love stories that involve space travel. Popular media is a testament to that fact. So why not make a game that focuses on that theme while implementing the gameplay of a genre that’s severely lacking in VR – namely survival games. Well, that’s exactly what the guys from Overflow Games did. And voilà, Star Shelter was born.
From the creators behind Conductor and Abode, comes Star Shelter – a game that focuses on having players scavenge, craft, plant, and fight in order to survive and (hopefully escape) the coldness of space. The game is set to release this week on October 12 for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift on Early Access on Steam. I got to check the game out and it was a glorious experience and incited a combination of abject fear as well as utter excitement in me for the future of survival games in VR. Unlike most of the few VR survival games currently out there (Project Solar not included), Star Shelter shows the potential that VR has in a genre like this.
Check out the trailer below:
Star Shelter makes use of randomly generated environment and spaceships to make sure that no playthrough is the same. But I felt that the randomly generated gameplay was only a bonus because the game has enough core mechanics to keep me replaying for it a while anyhow. In Star Shelter, you’re in zero gravity the whole game through. Meaning you have to use your hands to pull or push yourself off of surfaces. The suit also has small thrusters that can help in a pinch, but they use the oxygen supply to work so they really are only for emergencies. Although I still used them quite a bit whenever I ventured outside the ship because I couldn’t stand being out there for too long.
Star Shelter has a simple, low-poly art style that I actually quite liked because it dampened the daunting effect of being alone in space somewhat. And paired with the gameplay, Star Shelter became more about the fun of crafting and stress of surviving than the lonely vastness of space. That being said, it was still intimidating to venture out in space in search of salvage and the fear of drifting too away from my little spaceship was real. So the game definitely succeeds in making each foray an ordeal and not a simple little jaunt outside. But it was well worth it and I couldn’t survive the game without it.
I found various debris floating in space in the form of satellites and ship parts, which held a veritable treasure trove of usable objects, including nutrition bars and seeds (where the hell did those come from?) that I could plant for oxygen and food.
It’s Extremely Fun But Not Entirely Realistic
Don’t expect utter realism in this game, however. My ship got damaged from meteors and I had to then fix the tears. I could salvage scrap and repair the ship by pushing a button on the controller and everything would be good as new. I never once had to do any physical work myself. So really, the most laborious part of this game involves getting around inside the spacecraft and outside in space. The rest is pretty easy, though things did get overwhelming at times – when there were multiple asteroids for instance or when I didn’t plan carefully enough and my oxygen or other resources would run out.
The user interface in Star Shelter has been very well designed and is quite intuitive. There’s a holographic interface on the one glove that indicates your hunger, oxygen, and other stats, and can it can be interacted with as well to show your objectives and inventory as well. Then the main spaceship also has a menu that shows what you can research, craft, what crafting components you need for each item, and a map of the surroundings, and the ship’s inventory. What’s great about the map is that I could set a marker on a specific piece of salvage and so wouldn’t get completely disorientated once I got outside. The crafting simply involved combining objects I found into whatever I needed.
The finished items would then show up in my inventory and I could grab and place them wherever I wanted. This worked without a hitch and there is a good amount of craftable objects in the game already, from solar panels to plant holders. I also felt that everything actually served a purpose and there weren’t any unnecessary crafting components like in some other survival titles.
Star Shelter Shows A Lot Of Promise
I really enjoyed this game and I think it will be a force to reckon with when it completes it’s EA run. There were some bugs of course, but nothing game breaking for me and I spent quite a few hours in Star Shelter, trying to get to a point where I could escape. I think the gameplay mechanics were well implemented, such as the ship’s AI voice, which was helpful without being too intrusive and I liked the fact that I improving the ship with solar panels and plants for oxygen allowed me to siphon some of that off to keep my suit going. Though there were capsules floating around that I could plug into my suit to keep it going for a while. Overall everything in this game felt like it fit together and I’m definitely heading back in again.
So if you’re looking forward to trying out this game then make sure to get Star Shelter when it releases on Steam on October 12.