I have had some stinkers land in my lap for review. Games that I truly didn’t like for what they were. When this happens, I always try to find some positive thing to mention. I also find it important to note the potential lessons that can be learned from a failed attempt or even tweaks I believe might raise the game to a whole new level. These developers work hard and I don’t think any of them set out to make a poor experience. I write this to temper the comments I am about to make about Starlight Inception. I will level with you, it irritates me to even link the store page; I only do so because of this site’s standards for reviews. I am skipping mentioning the developer’s name in hopes to allow them to retain some dignity. You are welcome, Escape Hatch Entertainment. (Oops.)
The issue here is the controls. They are so out of sorts in this space shooter to render the entire project unplayable. When you first start up, you are tasked with walking briefly through the ship to the ready room to receive your orders. This takes place in the first person view. I found my character spinning in place at a high rate of speed. The centrifugal force alone should have caused a separation of the liquids from the solids in the hero’s body creating the shortest, grossest, and most awesome first person experience ever. (Coming soon to Oculus Rift!) Only through carefully finding a one inch sweet spot on the right hand side of the screen was I able to stop this crazy thing, through no thanks to Jane. Carefully, I made my way to the ready room and received my training mission. While getting there sucked, space battles are why I signed up. If they work, I can forgive this mishap.
Simply flying from point A to point B at the beginning of the mission was nauseating due to my craft rolling constantly. While trying to stop that, I accidentally steered off course. Putting myself back on caused me to spin out again. I did search for a calibration option and/or a remap option, but none could be found.
Backing out, I cursed this game. I then reviewed the forums to find others were experiencing the same issues. A brief perusal of the store page revealed that it listed both partial and full controller support as features. Admiring the award winning attention to detail at the conflicted listing, I pulled out my X-Box 360 wired controller, hooked in, and restarted. This time I found our hero still spinning in place, only now I can look up and down with the left analog stick. Not only was the look option mapped to the wrong stick, not only was the axis reversed, not only was there no way to remap this nonsense, I could not walk with the controller.
Thus, I inched my way back to to the ready room via mouse and keyboard and headed back to space. In space, I was able to complete most of the tutorial with the controller until I got to the power balancing portion. Mid flight, you are able to redirect power to shields, engine, repair, and weapons. The tutorial had you fiddle with these parameters and then asked that you re-balance them. Following the instruction did not work. I double checked the controller diagram in the options menu to ensure I was using the correct input. The game just did not respond. Fortunately, the keyboard input for this function worked.
After regaining control of my ship and recovering from dizziness again, I powered on. This provided me with the chance to reflect on how some functions like the camera were mapped to more than one place on the controller while others forced the user to try to differentiate between short and long presses of a button. That is, if the input even worked at all.
Out of my sense of fairness, I did obtain the developer contact information from my editor with plans to contact them and see if this could be resolved. I never followed through because I decided that to review a game properly, I should utilize the same resources a typical player would have. Those proved fruitless. I also gave it a couple of weeks to see if the developer would patch the issues. This did not yield results either.
I have not had the displeasure to play something so broken at the core for a long time. This game should not be released in any capacity in its current state. To learn that it went through the Early Access program and this is what the developers considered complete is just heartbreaking. To anyone who already spent twenty dollars on this, you have my sympathy. What really makes me angry is that I was looking forward to this one. It’s been a long time since I played a space simulation, arcade like or otherwise. Now, I can say it will be a long time since I have played a good one.
Now, please excuse me. I am now going to listen to MC Frontalot’s “First World Problems.”