Darkstar One: Broken Alliance Review
I’m a big space sim dork, and I wanted to love Darkstar One so badly. It’s too bad that this attempt at simulating the lifestyle of a Han Solo type consists of little more than the same three missions repeated ad nauseum.
As the pilot of the titular spacecraft, players spend most of their time in the cockpit. The nuts and bolts of spaceflight, while as scientifically inaccurate as the iconic sound of Twin Ion Engines howling through the vacuum, work well enough in the arcadey dogfights that break out at the drop of a hat. The battles can’t hold a candle to the glorious setpiece engagements found in Starlancer or TIE Fighter, but blowing enemy ships into particles is fun on a basic level.
Darkstar One gives players a lot of leeway along the path to avenging the protagonist’s father. A steady drip of goals keeps you moving forward. Finding artifacts allows you to increase your alien tech-equipped ship’s capabilities, while collecting cash allows you to kit your craft out with the latest in military hardware. How you earn money is up to you: clear out pirate nests, run goods or contraband, hunt bounties, or escort merchants.
The unfortunate reality is that nearly all of the hundreds of side missions in the game fall into one of a bare handful of types. Ninety percent of the time, it’s “fly here, shoot these guys.” Nine of the remaining 10 percent consists of “fly here, listen to interminable dialogue.” That final percentage is where many of the story missions fall, and contains genuinely interesting scenarios like picking off waves of drones trying to land on a research station or taking out bomber wings trying to finish off a disabled cruiser.
Side missions containing little variety wouldn’t be a huge problem except that you are required to spend the vast majority of your time doing them in order to progress. You can skip hunting artifacts and making money to burn through the story to some extent – and get obliterated by the stronger foes in the next sector.
If the dozens of hours of boring fluff were stripped out, I could recommend this as a reasonably amusing budget-priced shoot-em-up in space. That’s not the case, and Darkstar One is the worse for it. Avoid this unless your space dogfighting itch is keeping you up at night.