In the late 18th century, Great Britain dealt with their criminals by deporting them to an island paradise that happened to be infested by gargantuan spiders, poisonous snakes, fire tornadoes, and a multitude of other flora and fauna that wants to kill you. At some undisclosed date in the future, when everyone is living in space stations because all the inhabitable planets have been destroyed, the Galactic Council established law and order. Borrowing from the idea of Australia and the attitude of Judge Dredd, the established was violate the law, get banished to the Wastes, and try to survive the rest of your days in the ruins of the battlefield from centuries ago, waiting for the nearby Dead Star to finally erupt into a supernova.
Dead star is a twin stick top down shooter set in the wasteland of outer space. This is a team battle game, either 5 on 5 or the newly added 10 on 10. The goal is to capture the enemy team’s home base, and ideally capture their other bases or the neutral bases to establish more control of the battlefield. The blue team against red team is not a new concept in gaming at all, but this game includes a third yellow team that is in Escape Run Mode. This is a dynamic mode where a team of players finds a larger, capital ship with the necessary warp drive to escape the Wastes. This team travels in and out of various matches. They can choose to help one side, and the teams currently in the match can choose to continue attacking their real enemy or divert their attention to these invaders. Successfully making the escape run nets the yellow with major rewards, while players on a blue or red team are equally well rewarded if they are able to blow the bigger ship into oblivion. There are multiple ships to choose from and upgrade, from a slow moving tank like the Justicar to the quick and agile Marksman. Cross play between Steam and Playstation 4 is supported which is a trend I hope to see become more common in gaming. You don’t have to worry about all your friends getting in on the same platform, just get whatever format you prefer. As one would expect, the two versions are identical, though my experience was there was significantly less lag on Steam than there was on PSN.
I am happy to say that lag was only a minor issue with this title. Lag is unfortunately an unavoidable adversary in online gaming, which everyone hates. The person suffering from lag obviously hates it, and everyone who has a stable connection hates listening to the other player whine about how they only died because of lag. Overall this is a solid game. Sometimes the online matchmaking puts together a team that is vastly overpowered compared to the other team, which I have ended up on both ends of that, but the game mechanics are set up so an underpowered skilled player still has an advantage on a powered up ship piloted by someone who sucks at the game. One technical aspect that irritated me was when another player kills you a banner appears across the middle of the screen showing who killed you and the kill/death ratio between you and that individual. That itself is fine, but about a third of the times I died this banner lasted anywhere from 5 to 20 seconds after respawning. You can imagine how much I loved having this obstruct the middle portion of the screen where my ship is when my respawn point was at a base under enemy fire. This occurred even in games where lag was otherwise absent, but this is not something to get too upset about since this game is still in Early Access and what is available for purchase may not be the finalized version and the developers do have time to look into this.
There may be some disagreement here, but I am happy to say this game is not free to play with microtransactions. The full price for this game is $20, though at the time of writing this article the Steam version is on sale for $15. My experience with games has been the ones that come with a price tag opposed to optional microtransactions are more balanced and in general tend to be a higher quality product. After spending some time with this after PAX on both PS4 and Steam, I can say that if you enjoy team based multiplayer and twin stick shooters this is a good value for the asking price. The score I am giving this game is based on the current version that is available for purchase. If changes are made to the final version of the game that significantly alter it I will revisit this if and when. Twitterpate me