In a world where most new games are clones of other games with a fresh cast of characters, an SPACECOM, published by 11 bit launchpad, looks to rewrite the strategy genre.
SPACECOM is a space-based strategy game, emphasis on strategy. The mechanics are simple: control resource-producing systems, protect your supply lines, and destroy or capture your enemy’s systems. But chess is simple to look at, too; that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
The focus of SPACECOM is maneuver and composition, much like in other real-time strategy games like Starcraft. The difference here is that there is no need to click hundreds of times per minute. Your moves are entered, and you as the player watch powerlessly as your fleet makes its way to the system. If the enemy has set a trap, you must be quick to reinforce. If you took them by surprise, laugh all the way to the bank.
The game features a thorough tutorial of single-player missions to explore the basics of fleet composition, system types, and defense, preparing the player for domination in a campaign mode, or to turn their expertise on other human players in multiplayer supporting up to six players.
Supply lines, like in actual war, are the key to victory. Resources are generated to produce ships and defenses only from a handful of planets sprinkled throughout the game map, and they ship those resources along pre-determined routes. Should an enemy enter a system along the way, those shipments could be destroyed, or even diverted to enemy worlds to produce their ships and defenses. Produce too much too quickly, and nothing gets built. Have too few resource planets, and you’ll be overwhelmed by superior force. Controlling (or destroying) other planets that have no value in themselves is where the battles are usually fought, preventing the enemy from gaining staging areas for attacks.
In combat, rock-paper-scissors is nowhere to be found. Instead, the three ship types simply fire at different speeds. Have more battle fleets? Your ships will fire more frequently, destroying the invasion fleets of your enemy. But each fleet still has its own value in their special abilities, and so the winning composition includes a mix of all three, working in concert.
For someone who is looking for a strategy game with a sci-fi feel and a simple interface, SPACECOM provides hours of gameplay focused on outwitting and outthinking your opponent. I look forward to the completed version, due out in the latter half of this year.