The well-known studio Double Fine got into crossfire when they launched the Early Access version but then one day ceased development on this game, releasing the current version as final.
After that, big discussions arose again about the Early Access program and kickstarted games. Leaving that aside I wanna focus purely on the game, that I got bundled in a Humble Bundle when it was still Alpha and played several times until its current version.
The premise and style of the game seemed enticing to me: Build and manage a space station with room for crew and their needs. I like space and sci-fi settings, plus the base-management had a Theme Hospital-like feel to it, which was also a great and creative game.
So I started out in space and began building. The game doesn’t offer a campaign, you basically free-build and manage your base from scratch. After a few basic rooms for living quarters, refining asteroids and oxygen supply your base begins to take shape. An intercom window pops up: other space drifters saw my station and want to join my effort. Randomized events like this keep things interesting and challenging. Not all encounters are friendly and you need to be ready for intruders – or pay the costs.
The building and managing are fun and keeps me entertained: There are some fun ideas in Spacebase DF-9 that I really like. Your base-dwellers for example post about their wants and needs in their social media “Spaceface”, where you can read how they feel and if they are happy with their occupation. The rooms and objects have good ideas that tie into each other: Plants can not only produce food but also oxygen. The food you produce can be brought into the pub for cooking. When fire breaks out you can not only use fire extinguishers but you can also cut off the oxygen supply to a room – though this usually takes longer and damages your equipment.
All these ideas and concept sound fun – on paper. In the game however they can get buggy and very frustrating. The power management for example can get very messy as the only data I have is a bunch of colorful lines across your base. I don’t see how much reach a generator has and how much power is being drawn. New derelicts appear out of nowhere that are so close to my base that my building plans are screwed. And several times my crew members kill themselves by simply staying in space until their oxygen runs out or not fleeing an empty vessel that runs out of oxygen. This is very frustrating and something that doesn’t feel like it’s the players fault. The build-queue is also not very clear as my crew builds rooms but just doesn’t make time to build the door that would connect them – ordering them useless.
All in all Spacebase DF-9 is a game that had great promise but will never live up to it because bugs ruin the experience. I tried, I spent the time to build a big base and train my crew to fight back an alien invasion – but when the same men later just suffocate by standing in a room without oxygen, because the AI just doesn't react, I couldn't stand it any longer and quit the game with disappointment. I haven't been back since.