Starpoint Gemini Warlords is a space combat sim and 4x strategy game where the player leads a faction with the goal to conquer the galaxy. Being that the game is cross-genre it simplifies the gameplay a little to compensate for the scope of the game, at least that’s how it felt to me. Even though the game does simplify some aspects of the two genres there’s still a lot of game here.
There’s two main modes that the player can choose from in Starpoint Gemini, Campaign and Conquest mode. The campaign felt like more of a long tutorial for the skirmish mode. There is a story in the campaign but it’s the weakest point of the game. The word that comes to mind when I think over my experience with the story is rushed. Most of the campaign is spent farming resources to upgrade your ship, or buy a bigger one. Honestly the campaign mode feels so tacked on that I would say pass over it and head right into conquest mode where this game really shines.
The Campaign takes the player through the ranks of the Solari Concord (one of the factions you can play in Conquest). The story is very forgettable and honestly the campaign felt more like a long tutorial than anything. The conquest mode is the mode I spent most of my time with in the game. The player takes control of one of the 4 factions in the game with the objective to take over the galaxy. The factions themselves didn’t feel really different so subsequent playthroughs feel a little samey.
There are two main things the player will do in the game, fly around space fighting other ships or fleets and doing quests, and managing ones empire in a 4x strategy format. The space sim aspect is much more fleshed out than the 4x though. Flying and fighting in this game feels good. It’s always satisfying to see another ship blow up into a million little pieces. The weapons in this game took some getting used to as they rotate and won’t fire at an enemy unless they can physically see their target. This makes for some more tactical thinking because if you can get underneath a ship you can fire all your weapons at them while they can fire a few, if any, back at you.
The 4x aspect feels a little shallow compared to the space sim one. You can only do basic things like upgrade facilities, make and manage fleets and send civilian ships out on missions. All these tasks cost resources which can be mined or received as a reward for completing quests. I really wish there was a little more to the 4x aspect of the game. Being able to build more stations would have been nice.
Graphics & Sound
The graphics for Starpoint Gemini get the job they need to done. The ships and stations look detailed and the HUD displays what it needs to. Other than that what else is there really to say? It’s a space game, space is big and empty not that it’s a bad thing. Every time I play a new space sim game I’m always excited to see what that game’s devs decided to put in their version of the great unknown.
The soundtrack for this game is what you would expect from the sci-fi genre. A lot of electronic instruments and Theremin (the oooo-weeee-oooo instrument that gets used in every sci-fi thing ever) esque music. Like the graphics the sound of this game is what you would expect from a space sim. I really wish there was more I could say about the music but none of the tracks really stood out to me, hell I could barely hear them most of the time, but again it’s standard for the genre.
The game controls are your standard space sim controls. You use your keyboard to control your ship and its functions and the mouse controls your weapons and camera. You can also use a controller or joystick but using a controller for space sims feels counter productive to me and I don’t have a joystick that works with this game so I couldn’t really test it out. As I mentioned in the gameplay section your weapons have to see your target to be able to fire and the controls feel built around this feature. You can change your camera to either move your ship or your weapons. This can come in handy if you want to utilize the line of sight of the turrets.
The replayability of Starpoint Gemini comes mostly from the conquest mode and the scenarios. Since the story is so bland I would honestly recommend just going right into the conquest mode because that’s where this game is at it’s best. The biggest problem I feel might hurt this game in the long run is the exclusion of multiplayer. Now I’m not a game designer and I don’t know how hard it would be to add multiplayer into a game like this but when I play strategy games I would rather play against other players because AI can’t react like a real person in diplomatic situations.
Overall I had a lot of fun with Starpoint Gemini Warlords. Fortunately I had DLC that added more factions to the game (even though they didn’t feel that different other than starting conditions) and a “most wanted” list, that offered pretty hefty rewards and sped up my ability to buy ships and they added more to an already good game. Being that this game mixed two different genres and was able to not make one feel tacked on is a testament to the ability of the devs and I hope we get a sequel that expands on what they built here.