Last year when we posted our Dorflike Round-up, Spacebase DF-9 was still in its infancy, but the game was promising. Fast forward less than a year, and Double Fine is announcing that they’re going to release version 1.0 next month and then abandon ship. Fortunately, they’re planning to release enough source for the modding community to take over from here. Then again, the game seems light years from completion.
There’s no doubt that the game looks nice and with the ability to mod the game easily, who knows what might come. On the other hand, the game in its present state is just not very good.
The game is incredibly buggy. This is to be expected in an alpha, but there are a surprising number of bugs left for the game to be three or four weeks from done. Some of the bugs are no big deal, like the graphical glitches that plague the speech bubbles. Others are far worse. For example, in my last play-through I lost tons of resources to construction placeholders disappearing after the resources had already been allocated to build them. Expanding one of the residences caused the room to revert to un-zoned, which caused the beds inside to blink out of existence.
Even assuming that the game is bug-free when it hits 1.0, there’s still a lot to be desired. The game starts slow, with just three space colonists, but you’re quickly thrown ship after ship of new residents before you’ve gotten a chance to get to know the old ones. This limits the opportunity for the game to serve as a platform for emergent story-telling. This is true even though the simulation seems to include a lot of personal detail. The interfaces seem clunky; everything is just a little too big. Building is sometimes difficult given the camera’s perspective (and inability to rotate it). There’s no “blueprint mode” to help you lay out your base and it’s not always obvious what the effects are of the objects you can build.
Spacebase DF-9 is a middling Dorflike and a middling game, all the way around. If you’ve only got $25 to spend on a Dorflike, I wouldn’t spend it on this one.
The Bottom Line on Spacebase DF-9
- $25.00 (Steam Early Access)