Am Playing: Interplanetary
So this is embarrassing: I broke my mouse playing Diablo. I mean, it’s not all that surprising — it’s a four year old, much beloved mouse that has not been gently used, but I feel a little bereft about it. Poor little mouse. I hardly knew you, and off you go to the recycling heap.
Anyway, that made things a little complicated for Frozen Thursday, which is back. No longer frozen, but back. I couldn’t play any game that required right clicks, which is most of them. Choo suggested Interplanetary, which he’s been talking up. I was reluctant, right? I have this lingering feeling that I hate strategy games, even though I had that whole epiphany about Civ. It doesn’t require a whole lot of right clicks, though, and it’s turn based so I wouldn’t have any pressure.
I loved it. It’s an early access game available on Steam for $9, and it feels a bit Civ like. You start the game on a planet in a solar system. My planet was a bit mars like, and Choo’s was very earth like. The tracks (inner/outer) don’t really matter — it seemed to take about the same time for both of us to lap the sun. As a side note, I seriously recommend against staring into the in game sun. It’s no bueno for the eyes.
Your planet comes equipped with five cities. You need to protect those cities, and take down your opponents’ cities. Resources consist of Energy (building and powering weapons), Material (building) and Intelligence (information on your opponents city). Like civ, there are tech trees that you fill in based on your play style. As far as I could tell, there’s only one way to win (annihilation) so I initially was dismissive of the defense and intelligence tech trees. I eventually realized how wrong I was.
There aren’t a plethora of buildings that are available to you, and certainly not initially. You can have mines to bring material in, solar power plants to power things, rail guns for offense and kinetic defenses for, um, defense. As you explore your tech trees, you can add things like nuclear power, lasers (SOLAR lasers!), missiles, etc. It’s the lasers and missiles that made me realize just how valuable intelligence (and thus counter-intelligence) is — intelligence lets you track down the buildings on your enemy’s planet, so you can guide your missiles and lasers appropriately. I can tell you from experience that firing a laser blind is practically useless and not worth the energy. You might get lucky, but it feels a bit like the first round of Battleship. (hey speaking of battleship, remember how they made a movie about that game? I’m now wondering exactly what kind of awful story they built to make that happen. Did you have submarine commanders in a control room firing blindly on some sort of map? I don’t care enough to look it up, though).
Energy renews every turn (how much you get is determined by the number of plants you have) but material only builds based on your mines. And your planet has a finite amount of material, so building smart & using energy wisely is pretty key. As you gain more weapons, you have to start balancing building new things, repairs from enemy damage, and energy to power your own attacks. Late game, it seemed to make the most sense to not bother repairing damaged mines, and I sacrificed a few kinetic defenses here and there.
Obviously, you need a little bit more complexity than this to make it a fun game. And that’s where firing comes in. When you fire, you do so from the overview as in the screenshot above. See those other planets and also the sun? You have to route around those and their gravitational pull. Add to that the fact that your planet is constantly revolving (in multiple directions) and sometimes you’re stuck trying to fire a missile around your own planet, across the sun and onto the other planet. Which is also still moving on its path, so you have to lead your attack to where you think the planet WILL be. Likewise, you have to think about where you’re going to place your next weapon based on what side of your planet will be showing and will give you your best shot of hitting your enemy.
You lose when your population hits zero and you have no cities left. A good rail gun attack will kill as many as 500,000,000 people, so basically you are a horrible, horrible person. There’s no feeling good about yourself in this game. I was shocked at the joy my citizens showed at our victory. Like, they should be beaten down and miserable. TRILLIONS OF PEOPLE HAVE DIED you monsters. (Population rebuilds over time, and one of the techs gives you a boost to population growth).
I won, but it was either luck or Choo let me win. PROBABLY the latter. But I had a blast, and it was another gentle reminder that I DO like turn based strategy. Sheesh.