If you've been around UGDB long enough you know that I have a thing for space games, and over the last few years, we've seen a real resurgence in the genre's popularity. Sure there are the big names like Star Citizen, EVE Online, Elite: Dangerous, and No Man's Sky, but there's plenty of space out there for smaller, more focused games to make a name for themselves. Check out the project that Jumpdrive Studios is Kickstarting, XO:
There are so many things that strike me as just right about this game that I hardly know where to start. Maybe the overall aesthetic, which looks like the mission brief simulators from games like X-Wing and Freespace. Or maybe that the game isn't just about combat; it's about survival. Here's a little more information from their Kickstarter:
"You are the captain of the last remaining battleship in the fleet. A relentless, overwhelming enemy has emerged to abduct your people. There's no time to colonize planets, negotiate with alien races, or build an empire. You're outnumbered, out-gunned, and low on resources. Knowing when it's time to fight or flee will be the key to saving the human race."
"Commanding your fleet and managing resources is only part of your job. You'll also need to lead a variety of personalities as you gather and protect a flock of civilian ships. Who you choose to elect onto your council will affect the entire fleet and alter the options available to you. Your leadership will either inspire loyalty and sacrifice, or drive your people to treachery and sabotage..."
So many cool concepts packed into this game, and all of this coming from a small design team in Portland. This is why I love covering Kickstarter games: there are so many good opportunities for indie developers to finance games they're passionate about and want to make. In XO, you're on the run from what sounds like an unstoppable enemy who is bent on capturing all of humanity for its own purposes. You muster what military and civilian ships you can find and run. But of course, not everyone gets along, and every ship in the fleet has needs. In addition to physical resources, time is a limited resource, I assume because the fleet needs to always stay ahead of the mysterious enemy trying to capture you. In addition to these, unit morale is an important, if less tangible, resource, which is such a cool concept:
"Your fleet is comprised of both military and civilian ships. As long as you have sufficient air, food, and water your military ships will maintain a high level of duty. The civilian ships, however, are not used to being bossed around (even when it’s clearly for their own good). Keep an eye on morale and watch out for deserters and mutineers; humanity needs all the force you can muster."
Yes! Finally a space-based game that actually has a mutiny mechanic that affects the game. As a long-time fan of shows like Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, and Star Trek, I've always liked the idea that the bold space captain may not have the support of all his/her command, and I've talked here, and other places, about the desire for a space-based game that took leadership and unit morale into consideration. It's such a cool idea, and yet it's something that hasn't really shown up in space-based games recently. Listen, I've played fast and loose with my command in a number of games, and I've often wondered "Why is my crew still following orders? I clearly have little concern for my squadron/fleet. Shouldn't they be a little more concerned with self-preservation?" Now there is a game that will punish me for recklessness. As weird as it sounds, I am very excited for that.
If you haven't already headed over to XO's Kickstarter, well, you should probably do that. Here are a few gifs to convince you that it is worth your time to check the game out:
And now, the one gif I'll be thinking about all day as I contemplate what an awesome commander I'll be once I get a copy of XO.