In the realm of video games, space is a place of infinite possibilities in terms of story and game design. All sorts of titles have been made that put a twist on the space exploration and combat and story sagas that have been made over the years, and Starship Corporation definitely does that in its own way. For unlike many space games, this one focuses on the business aspect alone of trying to run a starship company in space. However, while the potential is there, the game has several problems that will make it hit or miss for anyone who tries to play it.
Let’s start with the positive. The game is actually quite robust in the things you can do in order to grow your business. There’s even a few different modes you can select to have a different experience. You have a Campaign Mode, which I’ll talk about in a sec, or a sandbox mode which gives you more freedom without story constraints. For the story mode, I was actually rather touched by how they presented it. Your father was a very smart businessman, and he built up an empire around starships. However, when a galactic civil war occurred, a lot of the ships were destroyed or assimilated into the armies fighting the war.
So, after the war is finished, your father decides to give you reigns over the business, which at this point is a single base with two very old ships. It’s up to you to rebuild everything and try to either match or surpass what your father did. All the while making sure that your business is both sound (in terms of what you do and the money you make) and expansive.
Now, there are elements to the story that get fleshed out as you go on, including a brother who though that he, not you, should be running the family business. There’s an element of politics as the planets around you are trying to rebuild from the war, and then there’s the war itself that is still affecting everyone.
But, in truth, the real story is you, and how you choose to build the business, run the business, and the stress or joy you feel as you end a fiscal quarter and hope that you made the right decisions. It can be very compelling, but for those who are hoping for a more in-depth and RPG like story, you probably won’t find it in Starship Corporation.
Which brings me to the gameplay. Starship Corporation really throws you into the fires of business and expects you to learn as you go.
To start out, you have two ships, a million credits to buy new ships or design new ships, and a hundred thousand credit line. If you lose all your money and use up your credit? Your business is sunk. So, how do you make bank? Well, you take on contracts. There are a variety of different things you can do to make money for yourself. There are salvage operations, mining operations, clearing out paths for other ships, and then, you can make ships for clients. This is honestly one of the biggest, and best, features of the game.
You’ll have to start out small, not unlike your company, and then slowly research new technologies and get more money to build these ships. But once you do, you can make some very cool vessels. Now, since you’re building them for clients, you have to meet specifications of theirs. If you don’t, they won’t take the ship and you’ll have made the thing for nothing. As a businessman, you’ll need to balance making it, and yet making money off of it. The same goes if you make ships for a specific type of mission, you’ll want to make sure that the ship you make isn’t more than the profit you’ll get for completing the mission.
And just like a real business, your clients will be as varied as the ships themselves. You’ll be making ships for mining companies, law enforcement, armies, and more. Through your success, the scale of your builds will grow, and it’ll boggle your mind just how epic these ships can get.
However, this is part of where the problem for Starship Corporation comes in. First off, despite there being a tutorial section, a voiced one at that, it’s not done in-game. Instead, you just click on a set of 5-buttons and hear what the person has to say. Once you are put into the game itself, you don’t have a guide to help you out and guide you in the early goings. Yes, you have people within your company that give you advice or point out certain things, but it’s one-off. You don’t learn how to do certain things, and thus if you’re not patient, you’re likely going to rage-quit because you have no idea what you’re doing. It was very frustrating trying to work out what to do, and then how to advance things. At one point, I sent a ship on a mission, then things advanced and I realized I actually hadn’t sent it on a mission even though I could’ve sworn I did.
This leads to another big problem, the UI and text. I made the resolution fit my screen (which I’ll talk about in a second), and so when I went into the Campaign Mode, the text and UI were often very jumbled together. It was impossible to read at times because the text would be floating into places it shouldn’t be.
Furthermore, when I started up the game, the resolution was fixed in a way to where everything was small, and my mouse wasn’t allowed to reach certain places. Thankfully, I was able to set everything to better ratios, but the game doesn’t save it, so every time I started it back up, the original resoltion was there, it was very frustrating.
Finally, as many have noted in their Steam reviews, the game has a lot of bugs and glitches that cause the game to crash. I personally experience a few of these when I played the game, and some literally came out of nowhere and made me lose progress. It also didn’t help that the game took quite a while to load into each session.
In the end, Starship Corporation is very adequate at what it does, and if you are willing to do figure things out on your own and see what the game offers, you might like it. If not? Then you’re likely not going to be playing it for long.