In space, no one can hear you gasp in awe.
We are seeing a new dawn of space games. Star Citizen keeps adding features to the point where it’ll probably never be complete, Elite Dangerous is playable, and Limit Theory continues to be the most interesting project that I keep feeling will never get finished. A lesser known game is Rodina, from Elliptic Games, an indie space exploration game that intends to include… well, everything. It’s very early days, but here’s a little glimpse of something that looks quite promising.
Firstly, Rodina is still very much unfinished, to the point where there isn’t that much to do, but it’s incredibly exciting for what it does do. The great claim to fame here is that the game is entirely seamless. You can go from piloting your ship, to walking around inside your ship, to walking on a planet’s surface, all without a single loading screen. You can even edit the interior of your ship and personalise it with all sorts of (currently useless) rooms and furniture. Fires can even break out, requiring you to quickly put them out with a fire extinguisher. Landing on planets and asteroids is also seamless – you take the ship down and land it on your own, although punching through the atmosphere is a challenge of its own.
There are a boatload of asteroids and 4 planets to explore at the moment – Rodina will focus on a single solar system according to the devs – and each looks quite different. It’s all generated by the game, and it creates some stunning scenes and lots of fantastic places to explore. You can fly down through a canyon on a frozen planet, or explore the terrain of a rocky asteroid, watching the sunrise. The atmosphere for a planet changes the appearance of the central star as well. A great deal of thought has gone into this, and it’s a lot of fun to simply fly around and checking out the various planets and asteroids that are floating around. Flight controls are relatively simple and arcade style, which is something I actually prefer. It’s very Freelancer-style with its controls, which makes it easy to pick up and learn.
Right now there isn’t much to do. You can explore to find weapons, ship upgrades, and bits of data that fill in the mysterious backstory, as well as engage in a bit of combat, but that’s about it for now. The combat is a little frustrating – the AI isn’t overly good but on planets in particular they can easily swarm you, resulting in a quick death. The HUD is also very minimalist (perhaps too much) and navigation is limited to pointing at a circle on the screen and flying towards it. It’s still very early days though.
There isn’t much more to say about Rodina in its current state, but it’s definitely one to keep an eye on for all the promise it holds. Graphically it isn’t very impressive, but hopefully with time it’ll turn out to be an excellent exploration-focused space sim with lots of bits and pieces to keep you interested. The fact that you can move around your own ship, and then get out to roam the surface of an asteroid, is impressive on its own. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes.