Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander Lightspeed Edition Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Massive Damage, Inc.

Publisher: Massive Damage, Inc.

Release Date: Now

Price as of Article: $19.99 USD, £14.99 GBP

Game code provided by Massive Damage, Inc.

Story

On the edge of Terrain Space lays the Halcyon 6, an ancient relic, left by an unknown race. The Halcyon 6 is a derelict Spacebase, and the last bastion of safety for humans, it must not be lost or destroyed as it could mean the end of the human race.

Upon starting the game the captain of the Halcyon 6 sets off to intercept a distress call, upon reaching its origin, the fleet is ambushed by an alien race called the Chrull, for reasons unknown to us.

With the Captain’s fleet lost it is up to you, the player, to take over as the Captain and the last hope for humanity to survive in space. Build up the space station, send out your fleets to defend and explore the vast reaches of space. Meet strange alien races, who do you trust, who do you ally with? All while fighting off constant threats from pirates, aliens and the Chrull, in space and on foot.

Throughout your time, you will meet different aliens that will hail the Halcyon 6 and will converse with you giving you some conversation choices to pick from. The response given can affect how the race will treat you in the future. This changes the dynamics of space considerably as well as leading to some fun side missions.

Most of the story is given from these conversations, the history of the system, how each race interacts with each other. The text can be a bit long-winded, only two or three lines of text are displayed at one time making conversations very long. I am sure I will not be the only person to think this. I wish the story was handled differently, even voice acting would have helped.

Gameplay

Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander Lightspeed Edition, gives the base game along with all the updates from the Steam version, Combat and Customisation, Diplomatic Diversions, Loot’em Up and Moral Booster updates. Making this the complete version of the game. All actions taken; travel, building or exploring the space base will take a number of days as well as resources in order to complete each task, this will take some time to get to grips with to start with, especially if you have not played a building sim before.

halcyon 6 fight

Stepping up to Job of Captain

After the intro, you the player are thrust into the captain’s job, with what seems like no questions asked. That’s it, you are now in charge. Luckily for you, the Halcyon 6 tutorial gives you a good idea of how to do what needs to be done in the new job.

The first order of business is to get your new fleet ready to fly, well at least one ship to defend an attack. In order to do so, you must promote a crew member to a commander and give them a ship. There are three classes to pick from;

Science – The mage of the group, has healing abilities and offensive abilities, as well de-buffs for the enemies,

Tactical – The damage dealer, lots of attacks that do good damage,

Engineering – The tank, most health, big powerful attacks with long cool-downs.

Once the class is picked there are two ships for that class to choose from both with their strengths and weaknesses. Then off you go to survive space and save the human race.

Level up and Engagements

Having Role-Playing Game (RPG) mechanics means there will be an emphasis on fighting to get EXP (experience points) to make both the commanders and ships stronger.

As you gain EXP and level up the commanders the base statistics (stat) will increase, this is dependant on the class as the overall class skill will improve. Along with a stat boost, you will unlock ability points that can be allocated to skills to improve that commander’s effectiveness both in the ship and on the ground.

halcyon 6 level up

As you fight, the ships will also level up; improving attack, allowing more abilities to be equipped and the hull strength will improve.

Fights are a staple of the RPG genre, here there are two types of fights but both follow the same structure: space fights in the ships and ground fights with the commander(s) or randomly selected crew members like the red shirts in Star Trek.

Before each engagement, there is a chance to change the load out of the party, if this is a ground engagement only the commanders can change load outs. There are 3 slots that the player can preload abilities to making fights easier after knowing which abilities work best with what enemy and selecting the best loadout. Once the engagement starts its then turned based combat, meaning only one character can act at one time. The engagement ends if one side is destroyed or flees from battle.

Abilities not only cause damage but can have added effects such as weapon jam, giving a chance for the affected ship to miss a turn, or upload a virus and add damage over time. Use these to your advantage especially in later fights.

At the end of each fight, you will be rewarded with EXP and resources

Halcyon 6, Building

Halcyon6 Starbase-

Halcyon 6 is separated into rooms that need to be explored and cleared before building can take place. Each room has a class requirement that needs to be met to speed up the exploring of the selected room. Without the required level, the exploring could take 4 days, with the requirement met it will only take 1. Once the room is explored and cleared you can visit it, also there is a chance that you will be attacked in the room, if this happens you can fight or lock down the room. Sometimes locking the room down is a wise idea especially if its only one commander. Once cleared you can start building as long as you have the correct amount of resources.

Times for tasks to be completed are used for every task that can be undertaken throughout the Starbase, meeting the class requirement will shorten the time needed to complete each task. Space travel will take time and resources. This can be improved with upgrades.

Resources

Resources are single-handedly the most important part of any sim game and this is no exception. Luckily the only resources needed to be collected are materials, dark matter and fuel. Materials and dark matter are used for almost everything on the Spacebase: building rooms, researching, unlocking new research to engage in as well as new rooms to build. While expanding power plants are a must as each newly built room takes a number of power units and once full no more building, until a new power room is made. Whereas fuel is used to move around space, but to going back to the Spacebase is free.

There are two main ways to acquire resources, the first involves going out to colony’s in space and gathering the resources and bring them back manually. This can be automated later on. Secondly, you get resources through winning fights.

From time to time the colonies will come under attack and will need to be defended, there is a time limit to complete these missions, make them a priority.

Morale

There are other systems to take care of such as morale. Morale will drop if you fail missions or lose colonies. It goes down faster then it goes up. To improve morale you beat enemies that are attacking the colonies or the Spacebase, as well as a few others. Keeping morale high is key to keep the Spacebase running.

Finally

Halcyon 6: Starbase Commander Lightspeed Edition, offers a lot of different mechanics, that blend well together to make this game work. Even so, the base building is a little lacklustre, if only it was deeper such as different materials needed for different building aspects. This would also make space travel more rewarding and entertaining than just getting the same stuff. I feel that the simple approach to base building lets the whole game down somewhat and is a missed opportunity.

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Audio

The audio does a great job of making you feel alone in the vast expanses of space. The star map has a sci-fi feel to it with its melodic mystery filled music playing ominously. It has you feeling isolated as the intrepid fleet travels over the dark empty mass of space.

When entering a fight the music changes to something more upbeat. A feeling of pressure ensues and a totally different feeling while travelling, you know these aliens want you dead.

The sound effects are well presented from the laser shots to the ship exploding, they would all sound right at home in an episode of Star Trek. Same for the abilities used by the crew on foot.

Visuals & Performance

Visually Halcyon 6 is yet another 16-Bit pixel style game that is presented and rendered beautifully. The art style lends itself wonderfully to the space setting, everything is polished and the level of detail is really nice to see, you can tell the people at Massive Damage Inc. really cared for their game.

The performance was mainly fine, ran well both in handheld and docked. I was informed by Massive Damage Inc. of a bug that was present in the tutorial and that it had now been fixed. This again shows the care for the game. I had a few minor issues with button presses not being recognised resulting in a double press. Also every so often the game would take a few seconds to load in the actions. It is minor but noticeable.

Value

Coming in at $19.99 USD, £14.99 GBP and this being the Lightspeed edition, the price acceptable for sure. The game can last way over 10 hours if you want it to. It has a decent amount of content with base building, RPG mechanics, fights and exploration.

Pros

P

Solid RPG gameplay

P

Mixes different games types together well

P

Randomly generated commanders

P

Good soundtrack

Cons

P

Base building is too simple

P

Lack of a story

P

The load time freezes are very noticeable