Endless Space gives off a great impression with beautiful cutscenes with fantastic music. This game follows a type of space strategy games known as 4X – eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. In simplest of terms it just means to fly around, populate planets, mine resources, and dominate everyone by any means necessary.
The momentum continues with a very expansive yet easy-to-follow tutorial. It doesn’t help in practice due to so many variables of the randomly generated galaxies and customizations you can put in place. But it does guide you in the right direction of what you should focus on first and not to get yourself lost in menus or doing something that puts you in a precarious situation. With that said, even on the easiest of difficulties named “Newbie” – you’ll get worked by the AI if you sit idle.
Endless Space almost feels like it picks up where one of the victories in Civilization ends – the space age. There a total of 8 factions that make up the game’s playable races: United Empire, Cravers, Pilgrims, Amoeba, Horatio, Sowers, Hissho, and Sophon. Each one has its plusses and minuses of what it will bring to your space game, whether it’s diplomacy, science, or warfare – you should be mindful of what they’re good at so you can choose how you want to achieve victory in the end game and use it to your benefit.
There are a staggering 138 research possibilities in the tech tree. The four main branches of this tree have different focuses, and can be mixed and matched to assist in your progression. It’s easy to be overwhelmed, but reading them individually and deciding where you’re going to invest research points into is an absolute must in order to succeed in any game you start – as is the Research in general.
Endless Space can be played in either singleplayer or multiplayer. You can invite friends to play with you or lock down your game for just a singleplayer experience. The peer-to-peer multiplayer mode, allows you to play with up to 7 others. Though, with that number of players, the turn-based game can get very long in the tooth. So I recommend playing with 1 buddy to keep games going at a faster pace.
Speaking of pacing, the only time you see some real action is when you go to battle a faction you are not friendly with or when diplomacy has failed. This goes into a 5-Stage Battle where you can choose Auto and based on stats will produce an outcome, skipping over the battle. Or, choosing Manual will let you choose a series of cards for Long, Medium, and Short-Ranged Combat. If you do not decide on a card, one will be picked for you. As each stage commences, you’ll see it play out as the camera sweeps over the battle. The 5th and final stage shows the results, with the possibility of a draw.
The game has a very clean, intuitive UI. I was very impressed how easy to understand and use the game’s menus were. The text is clean and even in 1920×1080 it was easy to read. This too carries over if you like to play games through an HDTV.
The graphics aren’t the best the PC can offer, but the varying ship designs that are represented by the race that built them are detailed and dramatically different from one another and evoke the race’s personality and lifestyle. The game never chugs when sloshing through the menus or even during the big battle sequences. The music seems inspired by Bear McCreary’s score for Battlestar Galactica. It provides a meloncholy yet wonderous mood, but with each battle the music gets bombastic and intensifies until there is a resolution.
Endless Space is as endless as the title insinuates. The game does its best to help you along, but it will take a few failures to learn from your mistakes. Amplitude Studios built this game side-by-side with their fans in a new program called “GAMES2GETHER”. They were able to voice their opinions on what did and didn’t work for the game. As a result, there is a finely crafted space strategy game in which you have many options to control your universe how you see fit, provided you’re able to quickly react and overcome the obstacles that get laid down before you.
A Steam code was provided by PR for review purposes