Version Reviewed: PC (Steam)
(Copy provided by developer)
From the moment you first open Space Tyrant and hear the “evil ne’er do well,” spooky theme music, you realise that you are going to have a fun time. Developed by Blue Wizard Digital, this 5X game is packed full of good gameplay, a fun and easygoing 80’s-inspired sci-fi synth soundtrack, and tyrant-like humor to last for days!
From the tips on the loading screens to the battle cries of both yourself and your enemy, the humor takes center stage and never disappears, all the while, never detracting from the grim, dark, overall theme of it all. I mean, the whole point of the game is galactic domination after all!
Blue Wizard Digital do a fantastic job of both keeping the parts of a 4X game that matter and introducing their own ideas. The resulting fusion of old and new make Space Tyrant a fresh new take on the genre, one that I hope to see more of in the future. The basic elements of a 4X game are abundant – the turn based battles, expansion of your tyranny, the management of your fleet and the occupying of planets for currency, power and scientific advancement. But that is not all that Space Tyrant has to offer. No, this game sets itself apart in a number of ways. One of the biggest deviations is the elimination of pesky diplomacy.
No longer do you have to govern your people and stabilize relations between warring factions or planets. Instead, the campaign focuses solely on your rebellion and destruction of the galactic senate who is encroaching on your system. That is not to say that this game is simple though. The whole game is built around different missions that push back and fracture the senate’s control upon completion. Each mission is set within a different map of interconnected planets, has its own difficulty rating, goals that allow you to win in a number of ways, quirks that add a touch of difficulty to the mission (slower labs, not being able to use destroyers etc.) and rewards obtained through victory.
After you select your mission, you are presented with a pre-battle tactics screen in which you choose your commander, any perks you have unlocked, and any artifacts you have obtained. Artifacts make your commander stronger, your mission a little easier, and your game all the more interesting by either adding extra power to your commanders or allowing you to make use of derelict worlds or any number of other exciting things.
Once you get to the gameplay, the fun really starts. The galactic conquest is turn based, seeing each player move one planet and take one action. Taking control of a lab gets you research points which you can use to upgrade your ships with specific class roles that make each type more effective in combat. Taking over a crystal world grants you crystals that allows you to play a special card that has effects ranging from reinforcement of a controlled planet or destruction of a number of enemy ships. Resource planets gain you money which you can then use to purchase more ships for your fleet.
The battles take place in real time, forcing you to make snappy decisions that will inevitably impact the outcome of the battle. Once a battle starts, you can choose any one of three randomly generated tactics, including Armageddon, which destroys all but a handful of ships from both sides, and Heal Ship, which fully heals any ship of your choosing. Once you are victorious, you can choose to invade the planet. To do this you roll an invasion die. If the number is higher than the planet’s resistances, you invade, taking control of the planet. Afterwards, you automatically explore it, bringing about random scenarios that allow you to make a choice as to what happens. These are always interesting and reward or punish you in various ways.
All of this culminates in a game that is easy to pick up, entirely fun to play and challenging in all the right places. For those collectors out there, the game definitely has a lot to unlock so expect to spend a decent amount of time unlocking everything Space Tyrant has to offer! Oh, and if you are wondering, like I did, about why it is a 5X instead of a 4X; it stands for eXplore, eXploit, eXpand, eXterminate and eXsanguinate. So, get out there and do just that you space tyrant you!