Star Nomad 2 (PC) Preview

By Eric Ace 29.01.2016 1

Review for Star Nomad 2 on PC

Star Nomad 2, by publisher and developer Huy Phan, is a game about flying between various stars buying/selling goods, engaging in combat, upgrading ships and skills, and deciding what factions to support. Combat is a major part of the game. It is easy to pick up, but has an interesting nuance wherein only the final hit on a ship counts, encouraging a fun hold-off-then-blitz aspect. At this point, it still needs some work, as evidenced by its frequent updates, it but shows a lot of promise.

Star Nomad 2 is the type of game that merely looking at some screenshots or even a minute-long video does an injustice, as the graphics are not its strong point. At its root, the premise is somewhat simple: make money. This can easily be done by simply flying from one planet, buying various goods that will be most profitable, then flying to the next one to drop them off. Indeed, this forms a large part of the experience, but there is a lot more to it.

Essentially, the title could be called a "combat trader", as fighting is just as important to making money as actually dropping supplies off. Ultimately, the player will either be trading or fighting for most of the game. Trading works as follows: arrive at a planet, where there will be about 20 different items for sale, hover over the item to show its sale price at nearby stars, load up based on money and cargo space, and head off. At the destination, collect profit and repeat. It is simple and it works, but perhaps it might be better if there were a bit fewer items and it was clearer what the profits were.

Screenshot for Star Nomad 2 on PC

There is also a "mining" aspect, where, on fringe territories, the player can collect ores, but for all intents this works essentially like trading, only the player generates their own resource.

Combat is the best part of the game. By description, it seems kind of dull, but there is a lot going on. The player controls a single ship (later gaining others that follow them, although the game remains single-ship-focused). There are generally two types of weapons: auto-fire and missiles. The automatic weapons will shoot at the nearest enemy and slowly do damage, wearing the ships down. Missiles are powerful but limited and actively controlled by the player.

Here is the most genius part of the game: only the final hit on a ship counts, meaning there is little advantage to slugging it out unless the final hit is secured. Thus, in general, the best strategy is to swoop in at the end and unload missiles to knock out the ship. Further, the fact that missiles actually cost money makes each shot feel like it counts, and feel much more satisfying when it connects.

Screenshot for Star Nomad 2 on PC

As the game goes on, the player gets money from kills and trading and can upgrade into bigger and faster ships, along with better weapons. The basics of the game are pretty solid, but this is part where problems start to show up. Namely, there is little deviation from trade/combat. Better weapons do not feel that different beyond a simple "missile +1" type of thing, where only the unseen damage is boosted. Better ships take a long time to buy and are not that much of an improvement. It leads to a very unfortunate lack of motivation to press on, as even the good stuff isn't fundamentally different.

A further negative is that there is a lot going on and very little of it is explained, such as the vital aspect that enemy ships must be "targeted" (which is simply right-clicking) to actually make missiles track; in a game where lasers track/fire automatically, this is not obvious. Tool tips and text are very, very small - so much that it is distracting how bad it is. Often, the text spills into areas, boxes are lit from behind, and in general, simply not readable - a major problem in a game this text heavy.

Screenshot for Star Nomad 2 on PC

Lastly, there is an interesting aspect wherein there are factions fighting, and the player can loosely influence this based on who they fight. The idea seems very cool, watching them slowly take each other out, but it feels separate from the player. There are not really "quests" or missions or anything conventionally available for the player to say, "Help one over the other". In general, the game merely wears on, and one side slowly starts to hate the player, and that alone determines what side the conflict becomes targeted against. If this were expanded, and of course, explained (like many things are not ), this could stand to be a very cool game. Overall, the product cries out for a bit of polish as there are some good aspects here weighed down by the problems mentioned.

Screenshot for Star Nomad 2 on PC

Final Thoughts

Star Nomad 2 is not without its problems, mostly in UI, which needs a serious clean up, and it could benefit from either instructions or a brief tutorial/tooltips. There is a bad pacing issue in that the first hours will be extremely interesting before it slows down and becomes a grind with little new reward. Lastly, the lack of ability to overtly influence what seems like a living galaxy hurts. These all sound bad, but again, the fundamentals are solid, and with some minor tweaking and updates, this game could easily be better. The combat mechanics and overall galaxy are fun, and with just a bit of overhaul, this one could be a real winner.

Developer

Huy Phan

Publisher

Huy Phan

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

I absolutely hate this game. I will not recommend it to anybody

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