We have had a fair run with Double Fine videogames. Some of them are excellent. Some of them are not. Then there are a few that are just plain weirdos. That kid in school that you didn’t like (nor hate whatsoever). It was just weird, you know? And then there is ‘Spacebase DF-9’ (and ‘Mountain‘, why not?).
Now, I’m not saying they can relate in any form except their creator. ‘Spacebase DF-9’ is like original ‘The Sims’ but in space, mixed up with a few RTS elements and a hint of ‘Dwarf Fortress’. See what I just did there? I threw the important detail and get away whistling. Yeah… I’m the greatest.
Spacebase DF-9 got a full release on October after a yearlong on early access. It have had a bumpy last months since the project coordinator, JP LeBreton and all the team behind the game was let go. Apparently, the Early Access didn’t go that well and the game development was spending more money than the one was earning. Tim Schaefer and Doublefine decided that it was time for a 1.0 version and the hell with it. As a compensation to Early Access buyers, they give away a free copy of Hack ‘n’ Slash and the source code of the game for gamers to play with. It’s not that bad.
I enjoyed this time we had with DoubleFine catalog. I enjoy DoubleFine, period. Those fellas really put themselves into their developments and it shows an special care for versatility and being originals in a gaming world with a serious lack of that matter. Matter. Yeah right. Well, in the game you have to select a point in space where you want to go. Every pixel is a part of the galaxy with its own conditions like threats probabilities, warpgate proximities, and magnetic interference. That is because you have to go mining, mister. Why do you have to go mining? For the ‘Matter’, the magical (?) mineral substance used to build everything.
You start your journey with three astronauts that are running out of oxygen (the drugheads use it for dirty business… fuckers). In eight minutes they are going to die by asphyxia. At the right of the screen you get the steps to follow. First you have to build an amount of rooms, each one with a purpose. An airlock room for entering the Spacebase, A Reactor Room, where you’ll place your energy reactor. A Life Support Room where you’ll install your Air supplier, and the bathroom. Come on dude, where you going to piss on a flying comet? Just kidding. The fourth installation is the Matter Refinery. After going mining you’ll need a place to synthesize the Matter.
But what happens if your astronauts die after the eight fatidic minutes and you didn’t built the freaking Life Support Room?
Well, by pure luck, a lot of ships fly around, full of alien astronauts, and they all need a place to crash. So, after a funny dialog –courtesy of Doublefine- you allow them to stay and they incorporate your crew where you’ll need to assign them tasks according to what they enjoy doing (build, repair, being a doctor…). Your crew will grow and you’ll need to build further accommodations.
So, yes, it’s kinda like ‘The Sims’ but less broken and with no pools. Haha,.. you took the pool stairs too? So genius. We are so alike.
Oh, and you can use the astronauts corpses as fuel, so… yey! The more visitors, the more expansion. Your Spacebase will be the Jennifer Anniston of the Spacebases. You know… if you were in the 90’s. And your Spacebase was a girl who dated Brad Pitt.
Visually is not that good. It looks old, aliased, and a little to Lego-ish but unintended which is under no condition something to be proud about. The isometric view is ok. What is not ok is that the map doesn’t turn to the sides, giving you only one view that you can zoom in or out. The options panel is so minimalist. You have almost no configuration options, and that include controls, that are a simple mix of mouse and keys… that I would love to change. But hey, I suppose that I can learn programming and shit all over the source code. Come on Doublefine, you know better than this.
The soundtrack is no better. The tunes are alright, however they failed to reproduce the feeling of space. You are in space man, what is that music? The Sound FX works. The sounds are those you imagine of a space environment (or actually know, in the rare case you are a NASA employee).
Is not a bad game. If you are the kind of gamer that like to build stuff and you enjoyed –or enjoy- the tycoon type, you may like Spacebase DF-9 and dedicate a serious amount of time. I hope you do. I didn’t like it. Is not that is the wrong gender, I’m a big supporter of this kind of videogames; it just seems underdeveloped.
Maybe in the future, with mods and contributions from gamer community, Spacebase DF-9 will improve. At this time… it isn’t.