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StellarHub Review – Deceptively simple

This is the perfect choice for anyone who loves space/management games.

Developer: Casualogic
Publisher: Casualogic
Release date: 17th August, 2017
Platforms: PC (Windows)
Platform reviewed on: PC

 

StellarHub is one of those management games that at the outset, you think is going to be overly complicated. Then you play for a bit, laugh and say “this isn’t so bad”. That is, before you run out of oxygen and your entire crew falls over dead. Well, that or a giant asteroid smashes into the base. Or pirates attack and blow up the starbase. It comes across as being deceptively simplistic, but there is a lot hidden underneath the surface, with a certain amount of strategy involved as well.

 

The player is given control of a brand new starbase. They begin with the central hub and several crew members, and the aim is to build a functioning starbase by adding new sections to the base. Each section has an important role to provide benefits to the crew and the base. Many of these things are essential as a sections that produce oxygen for the entire base and we all know running out of this stuff is bad.

Unfortunately, oxygen is a limited resource that must be harvested from outside the starbase. It can be collected from special clouds which float around the starbase, but these clouds do eventually run out of the precious resource, so you’ll need to find another cloud before then or have enough money to import oxygen from trade ships.

Constructing the base is one of the most important mechanics in the game. You must manage this carefully as constructing sections uses resources which are costly to purchase for large builds. This is where the strategy element also comes into play. The game is played on a square-based board that you look at from a birds-eye perspective. This means you can only place new sections if there’s a conjoined piece of the starbase. It’s not possible to place a oxygen unit far away from the base, you’d need to build out towards the cloud before you can place the oxygen creation unit. Thankfully, there’s a way to destroy modules so you’re not forced to keep a useless module and you can switch up the positioning of different sections.

 

Once you’ve built a module, you’ll need to manage the crew so that someone is working at that particular plant or place. Each crew member has a range of different skills which make them good at certain things. While you can assign anyone to work at any part of the starbase, underskilled crew members could cause accidents and even kill others. So you’ll want to carefully evaluate the different crew members to see which one should be the medic on the station otherwise, you could kill quite a lot of people.

My biggest annoyance in the game is a lack of a crew ‘catalogue’ that lets me see every single member of the station and their role. It would be incredibly useful for finding the right person for a specific job. Right now, players are forced to click each person individually and chase them around the station to see their stats.

Each member of the crew has their own needs which the player also has to manage. This ranges from hunger to mood and fatigue, which not only affect that person’s health, but also how they do their particular job. When a person’s health gets too low, they will die. If a person gets depressed, they will refuse to work. Dealing with the crew members can be quite difficult, which is why I’d recommend keeping a small space station until you get used to dealing with their needs.

If any of the crew members refuse to work, their station will not produce anything. Which means you won’t get any precious oxygen and your mining station won’t be collecting any resources. It also means nothing will be produced for you to sell. Producing items is incredibly important because a big portion of potential income is trading. Each crew member expects you to pay their salary after all.

 

In addition to selling produce, it’s possible to make your station a tourist destination. While there are two tutorials in the game, neither of them show how to build a swinging tourist attraction to rake in all that cash. This is something the player is tasked with figuring out on their own. It may take a few attempts, but it’s relatively easy to get the hang of this part of the game.

As expected, there is also a research tree in the game. It allows you to unlock new modules for the starbase or upgrade different mechanics in the game. This system lets you decide how to play the game and how you want your starbase to be. Some parts of the research tree are a near necessity, such as the basic defence units which are used to protect the base from incoming asteroids and pirates that want to steal your hard-earned credits.

Clearly then, there’s a lot to this game. It’s not a very casual management game as it does take some dedication to build a stable space station. It’s a tricky game with a lot for players to learn, but StellarHub adds to the space management market. StellarHub is a very strong title so it will easily compete with the others in this genre. This is the perfect choice for anyone who loves space and management games. It’s a wonderful addition to the management genre, even if it does have a few minor quibbles.

 

Pros

  • Lots of little things to manage
  • Ability to build a unique starbase every time
  • Detailed research tree
  • Lots of ways to fail

 

Cons

  • Lack of a crew/module roster
  • No tutorial for the tourism section of gameplay
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