SHORT REVIEW: Early access REVIEW – PC Version
Put away your flightsticks young man. Please remain calm sir, I’m not talking about VR Porn.
The resurgence of the space flight sim is a wonderful thing. The games industry ignored the genre and you hear the sound of a thousand publishers weeping as Star Citizen crosses the $100,000,000,000,000.24 mark.
On first glance you would think my trusty flight stick would get a run out here, but nope. Control pad recommended, as this has more in common with Colony Wars on the Playstation than Elite Dangerous.
Let’s hold hands to cross the road as we ask the question, to looming trucks headlights. Is that a good thing?
From the official website – “right now I have no plans to add or change anything major to the game. The remaining work will center around bugs, weapons, upgrades, wave clear, and mission balance.” Great. Let’s review this sucker now and revisit on official release.
House of the Dying Sun looks great in action. The screenshots don’t it justice. Clearly cobbled together on a budget, It’s smooth and stylised although somewhat basic. This minimal look ensures a clean aesthetic, which is a bonus for shooting purposes.
This clarity of vision follows through to it’s control scheme. As this isn’t a propa’ flight sim, you don’t need to memorise every single key on the keyboard, leaving you to concentrating on the more important matter of dogfighting in spaccceeeeee. A simple control scheme does not make for an overly simple game, as everything feels pretty tight. The magic of space travel allows for you to point in one direction, but fly in another. Holding down the L1 button allows for the delicate art of spinning on your arse to shoot a tailgating fighter, or even the cunning murder-strafe past a capital ship, whilst screaming in that Rambo way.
You can probably guess what I’d say about the HUD… yes, I know. Clarity is the watchword here.
House of the Dying Sun is a visually lean and mechanically intuitive game.
The fights aren’t exactly epic as they generally last around five minutes. This is by design as you’re not in the grand armada but a ragtag strike force, carrying out guerrilla strikes against a superior force. This descends into a race against time to take out your primary targets before overwhelming reinforcements arrive battering your fragile ship.
Side Story – You find you’re the last remaining member of the strike force and all enemy eyes turn to you. Your target explodes in your sights before you swing away from the chasing ships. Reinforcements have arrived. You’re shields take a beating, you desperately burst toward the escape point charging your warp drive. The ship shudders as you realise one more hit will take you out… you warp out just in time! House of the Dying Sun is the stuff of childhood fantasy.
A great touch is you build a small fleet over time and you’re furnished with a tactical view and the ability to issue orders. This comes in handy with subsequent replays in which you’ll need a larger fleet to take out the bonus objectives across the modest map. The tactical view won’t allow for grand strategic thinking, as you’re still very much the hero of this story. You can take control of your wingmans ships at any time. As it’s painful to find them on a busy map, you’re more likely to use them as extra lives. When things get a little bit explodey with minor player death issues, you’ll hijack your teammates ship to continue the good fight.
Talking of getting explodey it’s a right pain the arse to shoot down missiles, and when they do come, they come en-masse. Pretty much a death sentence. You can dodge them, but can’t shake ’em off, or spin round on your arse to try and shoot them all. I’d even attempted a cool Battlestar Galacica style manoeuvre around an asteroid without success. The future cares not for countermeasures.
Maybe I wouldn’t mind being a bit exploded, if the sound fx was meaty. House of the Dying Sun sounds lightweight, which sounds silly when you’re talking about space. Bit of inaudible background chatter, bit of background military music, not much wallop to the guns or impressive looking explosions. An arcade style space game concentrating on dogfights shouldn’t show restraint here.
You can earn magic space points to upgrade your fleet and that’s a pleasant enough addition to the game. As you’ve only got 2 upgrade slots to play with, that becomes a problem when it means removing your shields. Would have been nice if shields came as standard on the ship, just be thankful we didn’t have to use the other upgrade slot for space-seatbelts. You could bulk up on steroid armour, but it’s just twiddling with the dials at this point. Sure, you can go without shields or armour, just don’t be surprised when one shot kills in later mission. I guess you could forsake the shields and armour to concentrate on the long distance sniper gun and some other fancy-pants upgrades. I mean, the sniper gun doesn’t pack much of a punch, takes an age to reload and shooting dots is about as far removed from fun as you can get. Not all of the games upgrades agree to the standard definition of the word “upgrade”. Such issues should be easily fixable in the world of early access.
At around second hour I’d completed House of the Dying Sun. I’ll continue to ace every mission and upgrade my fleet and I suspect that will take me another hour. I want, no; need more! That’s not enough.
That tactical view would excite far more if you could issue commands to a super star destroyer or two. A battle that lasts more than five minutes with carrier ships, landing to reload missiles, bigger more epic space battles! Everything’s in place, all the pieces have been crafted, it just needs greater vision (and possibly more money). I want a skirmish mode, I want the death stars trench, I want the “final battle” to be the regular battles. I want, want, want!
15 missions at 5 minutes = Half filled tummy.
House of the Dying Sun is a great antidote to the more serious-faced space games. Accessible space combat captures the fun factor, but it’s fleeting sensation. Even at a budget price I’m tempted to say “pick this up on sale” to be amazed for a few joyous hours. As this is an early access review, I hope the quote from the website isn’t true and there are more features to come. Be nice wouldn’t it.
If not, House of the Dying Sun is deserving of a bigger and better sequel.
House of the Unwell Son: Part 2
Mock Tudor of the Dying Pun.
David Prowse with the Tiring Run.
Why such a low score you say? It’s not! Consult the score guide Mr Question face.