Reviews by thedarklite
Almost a Great 4x Space Strategy Game....thedarklite | Sept. 4, 2011 | Review of Star Ruler
Being a fan of large-scale 4x space strategy games, I absolutely loved the classics such as the early Master of Orion games and Space Empires.
Looking for something to fill that special niche, that seems quite devoid of quality titles these days, I turned to Star Ruler. Star Ruler is an indie game developed by Blind Mind Studios that hits the mark in some ways, but misses in others.
Let's begin the review proper.
The game follows fairly traditional 4x roots. You start with a single planet and must colonize surrounding planets and systems, gradually expanding your empire. There are no pre-set races in this game and you must build yours from scratch before starting a playthrough, but that is what most players will likely be doing anyway.
This game excels in it's ship design mechanic where you must intelligently position the subsystems on your ships as directional damage is implemented. There are a great variety of subsystems available and you can make ships as large as you want (larger than planets if you have the resources available). This is only marred by the fact you cannot physically see the components on your ships when they are flying around in space, detracting from the experience slightly.
Star Ruler also features a very extensive tech tree, where a lot of the research is hidden and must be unlocked through researching other techs. The tech tree is very diverse and because of this the game has very high replayability.
The game also uses newtonian physics, taking into consideration such things as a ship's thrust and mass. Planets also orbit there star/s, and the game by default uses a 3d plane - making the map feel huge.
Where the game struggles is in it's diplomacy options and the AI. Diplomacy is there, but is poorly implemented. Trading feels inconsequential and the AI will rarely accept deals that actually are worth your time. You cannot win via diplomacy or peaceful means either. The AI is also inconsistent at times, behaving very slowly at the start of a game - only to suddenly rush you with hundreds of ships about an hour in. That could also be due to my lack of skill too.
The controls are also fairly straight forward, but you must follow the tutorial or you will be left scratching your head.
The graphics are clean and the game follows are rather minimalistic design. Clearly the developers thought less is more. To a degree this is true, and it certainly helps prevent strain on your system. The real complaint is the lack of ship detail and general particles. It could do with a few touch ups, but it isn't really the graphics which make a game.
The score is certainly okay, but I forget it is there from time to time. Ship fire is rather generic, but it is what you expect to hear. Overall, the sound quality is fine but certainly not AAA (just remember that this does come from an indie developer after all).
This is the part that makes 4x strategy games so addicting. The replayability. Star Ruler certainly does not dissapoint in this respect and you can expect every game to play out differently. You might want to start a new match to see what research you should prioritize, to see how quickly you can pump out incredible ships, or to simply wipe out yet another galaxy full of hostile factions. It is quite enjoyable to play over and over again.
Overall score 8/10
It is certainly a decent 4x game, but it is no Master of Orion. If you are a big fan of space 4x then this is certainly for you. If you are fresh to the genre then I suggest taking a look at something like Galactic Civilizations or Master of Orion 2 instead.
Star Ruler is constantly being updated so it is constantly improving and could easily become one of the most memorable recent 4x space games, but until then it feels lacking in parts hard to put into words.