I’m going to preface this review by saying I love these kinds of games, and my addiction to these kinds of top down space exploration games goes right back to 1992 when I first played Epic Megagames SOLAR WINDS, a fantastic game that stoked my imagination about these sorts of games. Imagine years later when I picked up a copy of Wing Commander Privateer and the whole genre came to life again in glorious quasi-3d. So when I was given a copy of Void Expanse, and it’s expansion Pariah’s Bane.
Sound is above adequate, it’s not exactly highest of quality but it gets the job done and does it well. Some little laser sounds, a few explosions, minor crunch sounds for when you hit something, it essentially ‘does what it needs to’. You’re not looking at a travesty here, but you’re not looking at the best sound in town, the game essentially has what I like to term ‘functional’ sound, where all the right sounds are in all the right places, none of it’s bad, none of it’s truly exceptional. That’s not a slander, it’s just none of it truly stands out.
However, the music is quite pleasant, with mood setting tunes playing constantly throughout, nothing stands out mind you, however nothing is particularly grating. You’ll get constant music playing, little bits and pieces, that ramp up in combat, that calm down while mining or in space stations, it’s truly quite a pleasant experience. One I really enjoyed, I’m finding more and more these days that music really can make or break an atmosphere in a game, inappropriate music can kill it entirely, thankfully, the music is appropriately fitting here, making the game a pleasant experience.
Gameplay is fun, but can be a little repetitive. You won’t find yourself playing this for six to eight hours at a time, maybe one or two, but you will find yourself drawn back to it regularly. You have a top down view of your ship and the galaxy on a two-dimensional plane, navigating around an expanse, you can trade at outposts, mine asteroids, fight pirates, do quests for others, jet around having fun and essentially carve out your own future. In among this, you can join a faction, become a trader, explore multiple galaxies, upgrade your ship, upskill your character, kit out your ship with new weaponry and become a major badass. I love this. I love the originality every new character will have, that each new ship will have, this variety brings true longevity to a games life and ensures a genuine replay factor rather than a simple ‘been there done that’ feeling.
Multiplayer is where the game comes into its own. Having a wingman in the game to assist in missions, who helps you in combat, in missions, is fantastic fun. When pirates start irritating you? Having a friend flank them, then cross firing them with missiles or autocannons never felt so rewarding honestly. The odds suddenly being evened out with multiple ships vs multiple ships gives you a real feeling of satisfaction. Mind you, this doesn’t make you invincible, it just makes it a little less likely you’re going to die. But, you probably still will…
Combat is simple, but fun, you assign a weapon to the ship, dependent on what your ship can handle. Some may handle multiple types of weapons, some may only handle one or two. Weapon cooldown timers dictate who can fire the most, dodging fire becomes a question of who’s the better pilot (your skills and equipment will also heavily affect this factor). There’s a lot to consider but thankfully, thankfully, you’re never overwhelmed, as most of this information is being taken into account in the background. Put simply, you’re going to have fun with the combat, it’s very arcade like, well paced, well executed and lots of fun. When playing multiplayer, it gets even better, the ability for multiple ships to engage enemies, or each other, just ramps the games fun factor up even more.
Graphics are simple, but nice. The models are rendered in 3d using a modified Unity engine. In my opinion, it’s a gorgeous looking production, the ships look fantastic, the stations look great and everything runs smooth. The only critique I have, the ONLY graphic critique, I’d like to see a higher resolution series of starmaps in the background. The current ones look a little low resolution in comparison to everything else and seem a little off. Other than that, I love the look of the game, it reminds me a little of the Privateer series, with its industrial look. Each ship has a particular look and feel to it, you can see the guns and launchers on each ship visible, tracking their arc of fire, you can see junk floating in space, asteroids all look large and menacing, trails from ships look great flowing behind you. It’s visually very attractive indeed.
Thoughts about the Expansion:
So, what does Pariah’s Bane bring? Let’s quickly discuss this in a blunt manner, I’m going to name some names here. I hate when a dev brings out a game and abandons it ok? I was one of those poor suckers who got lured in and bought “THE STOMPING LANDS”, I’ve been burnt by games such as H1Z1 which I bought into early and never fulfilled their actual promise, becoming some sort of bastardised competition shooter and yes, pity me I was one of the suckers who bought possibly the worst of the worst, The Dead Linger. I went to the extent of deleting all of these from my Steam List believe it or not out of frustration due to most of these being abandoned. So, I love seeing a developer consistently tackle their own game, updating them regularly and then create expansions that give longevity to their own games lifespan. I love seeing a developer committed to quality, which it more than seems AtomicTorch is, rather than just cashing in and running off. Pariahs Bane is priced at 4.99, which is a steal, considering the main game is only 14.99, both are insanely well priced. I figured initially both would be TWICE this? From what I’ve looked up, given I played both at the same time, so I didn’t know what was added admittedly as full disclosure, Pariahs Bane adds quite a bit to the initial Void Expanse experience. You get a brand-new faction, the Pariahs, a new capital ship (I SO want to find this!!!), a new crafting system, station management (I can personally attest, this is great in the game, upgrading stations is fun!), new character skills and types – the Industrialist (Yay! I’m using that one!), new music and a whole new storyline plus a lot more. I’m not trying a sales pitch there, just stating there’s a quite a bit of content, now I’m aware of it myself, it’s quite obviously Void Expanse got quite the facelift with this expansion which is extremely impressive. Well done guys!
If you buy the original game by itself, from what I can tell you’ll get an enjoyable but bare bones experience for 14.99, while that’s still fine, I highly recommend you put down the extra 4.99 because of what Pariah’s Bane brings to the table. You’ll dig the extra content and what it adds to the game itself. Trading, combat, exploration, multiplayer, they all add up to a damn fun time. Upgrading your ships, buying new ships, mining asteroids, skill trees, they bring an addictive element that gives you that ‘one more time’ and ‘five more minutes…’ elements that are crucial to giving a game a lasting lifespan. I don’t think this is a game you’ll be playing eight hours a day, like I said before, but I do think it’s a game you’ll dip into time and time again regularly, for a go here and there. On that basis, I can definitely recommend it.
So in conclusion, I’d be happy in giving Void Expanse an 8 out of 10. It’s a great little game, lots of fun, with a great pricing point and I highly recommend checking it and its expansion out. Enjoy!
- Fun space trading, exploration, combat.
- Graphics are decent, low requirements.
- Both game and expansion are cheap together.
- Controls are easy to master.
- Multiplayer is a blast.
- A bit repetitive at times.
- Would be nice if space was a bit more populated.